Arizona Cardinals Draft Grades
The Arizona Cardinals had a disappointing end to the 2021 season. This can be largely attributed to the DeAndre Hopkins injury. The big news out of the Cardinals draft was the Marquis Brown trade. How did this trade affect the Cardinals draft grade? Keep reading to find out!
Marquis Brown Trade
The trade for Brown adds another weapon for Kyler Murray and the Arizona offense. Marquis has had solid production for the Baltimore Ravens and is now entering the final year of his rookie deal. This trade has been criticized mainly because of what the Cardinals gave up. That being pick 23 in the first round. In return, they received Marquis “Hollywood” Brown and a third round pick, who they used to draft Myjaj Sanders at pick 100. I believe this is a fair criticism, as Brown is a good receiver, but not a sure fire number one option type of guy. His production has been good, but nothing out of the ordinary.
However, reuniting Brown with his former quarterback in college, Kyler Murray, could potentially be what Brown needs to break out to the next level. It’s important to recognize that chemistry and comfort between the quarterback and receiver is a huge factor in success. I believe that the chemistry aspect of that duo could be very beneficial to the Cardinals offense. I don’t believe it’s a bad idea to trade for an established star in the league rather than taking a guy who’s never taken a snap in the NFL.
Brown would come in as the teams number two option, behind DeAndre Hopkins. Teams would have to watch out for Brown’s quickness and speed on top of watching out for DeAndre Hopkins and his elite hands and size. Last year, we saw how quickly the Cardinals fell apart after Hopkins injury. The acquisition of Brown could give them a sort of security blanket. Brown’s a guy who’s been an X receiver before and should be able to comfortably fill up that hole. Although I believe that the assets given up for Brown are significant, and that there were other holes on the roster that could have been addressed with this pick, this is far from a bad move.
55th Overall Selection (Rd 2-23) Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
McBride was regarded by many as the best TE in the draft. The drafting of McBridge gives the Cardinals yet another big weapon for Kyler Murray, who already had Zach Ertz as his starting TE this past season. McBride provides good depth at the position, and could potentially be a future starter for the Cardinals. McBride has a lot of tools in his arsenal which I believe will translate well to the NFL. As a pass catcher, he shows quickness when getting off his release and uses creative footwork to create seperation. He has reliable hands and solid route running, though he does need to work on some aspects of it like rounding corners. He is a great run blocker and does so willingly and with great effort. McBride doesn’t have much experience pass blocking, but that shouldn’t be too much of a knock against him here.
However, there were some bigger needs for the Cardinals that they could have addressed with this pick. One of the Cardinals biggest needs entering the draft was defensive line, and this would have been a good spot to take Nik Bonitto from Oklahoma. Regardless, I expect McBride to be a solid player for the Cardinals.
87th Overall Selection (Rd 3-26) Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State
As I mentioned before, edge was one of the Cardinals biggest needs. They finally addressed said need here in the third round. Thomas is a versatile player who can line up as a 4-3 or 3-4 DE. He plays with a high motor, has great hand use, good length, and good quickness. He needs to work on his bull rush, as he doesn’t play with great power. Also, he will likely be stuck as a “hand in the dirt” type of player, as he doesn’t perform well in coverage.
Still, Thomas is a player who can disrupt the backfield and has enough traits to be successful in the NFL. This edge class is stacked. Thomas would have gone a lot earlier in a normal draft. Taking a player like Thomas in the third round is great value. No complaints here. Arizona got a guy who is great value at pick 87 and addresses a big need.
100th Overall Selection (Rd 3-36) Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
Arizona decided to double-dip at the edge position. Sanders is 6’5 and 228 pounds. His body type is lean but his length makes him disruptive. Sanders is very quick off the snap and can beat his opponent with speed alone. His hand use is sound and shows solid strength for his size. However, Sanders has issues with his ability to dip and bend. His small frame which sometimes leads to him being outmuscled can also be a problem. Finally, his below-average ability to get low can be improved.
In all, I believe that Sanders is a player who will mainly be used to rush the passer. He will play as a traditional 4-3 end or 3-4 OLB, though he has experience lining up inside as well. I believe that Sanders has the traits needed to be a serviceable player, but I believe that addressing the offensive line was the better call here. Dylan Parham of Memphis was still on the board and would have made more sense in my eyes. But nonetheless, Sanders is a player with good versatility and traits. Expect a lot of disruption from him on third downs.
201st Overall Selection (Rd 6-22) Keaontay Ingram, RB, USC
The running game for Arizona has yet to be established. Kyler Murray’s scramble ability is elite, but you don’t want your superstar quarterback to take more hits than he needs to. James Conner had a solid 700+ rushing yard season, but it’s far from anything breathtaking. Needless to say, running back was a need for the Cardinals and they addressed it here. Ingram is quick, shifty, and adjusts well when the blocking scheme falls apart. Ingrams weakness lie in his vision. Nowadays we’re seeing a lot of late round running backs breaking out all across the league. Ingram could be one of them with the right usage and coaching. The Cardinals were able to address a need without using any real significant draft capital. A smart move.
215th Overall Selection (Rd 6-36) Lecitus Smith, OL, Virginia Tech
Smith plays with quick feet and solid balance, but lacks good hand use, run blocking technique, and has below average measurements. You can’t expect too much out of a late round draft pick, but interior offensive line was a need for the Cardinals and it was addressed with this pick
244th Overall Selection (Rd 7-23) Chris Matthew, CB, Valdosta
Corner was another need for the Cardinals that was addressed in the tail-end of the draft. Matthew is a long corner with good explosion. He’s a physical player as well. However, his tackling form needs work, as do his instincts. Matthews athleticism could make him a good contributor on special teams.
256th Overall Selection (Rd 7-35) Jesse Luketa, LB, Penn State
Luketa was projected to be drafted in the mid rounds, so getting him in the 7th is good value. Luketa is praised for being a great guy and a fantastic leader. He fits best as a 3-4 edge with his quick hands and ability to squeeze in gaps. This addresses the Cardinals edge needs yet again.
257th Overall Selection (Rd 7-36) Marquis Hayes, Oklahoma
Hayes is the second college teammate of Kyler to be added to the roster during the draft. Hayes has a big frame with a lot of upper-body strength. However, Hayes is a raw prospect who needs to polish up a lot in his game like his hand use, pad level, and balance. Hayes is a guy with some natural gifts, but he needs to polish up the fundamentals in order to do any damage in the league,
Cardinals Draft Grade Overall: B
The trade for Hollywood Brown is the big story coming out of this draft. Though controversial, it’s a move that definitely made Kyler Murray happy and more inclined to resign with the team when it’s time for a new contract. The Cardinals’ offense is sure to be explosive with the additions of the proven Brown and the young and versatile pass catching tight end McBride. All of the team’s needs were addressed, but in later rounds, which knocked their grade down a bit. However, the Cardinals are still in position to contend for a championship this year and are certainly one of the favorites to take home the Lombardi Trophy.
Cardinals Draft Grade Analyst- Andrew Angelina.