Arizona Cardinals 2013 Draft: Aggregating Report Card Grades from Around the Web
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Put together here is others’ work from around the internet to get a pulse on how everyone views the Arizona Cardinals 2013 draft, providing brief analysis of each pundit’s thoughts.
The draft could not have gone better for rookie general manager Steve Keim and his fellow bald-headed friend, head coach Bruce Arians (I, too, feel a bit drafty up top after losing a bet this weekend…).
That seemed to be a consensus great pick, and I agree.
Here are five grades for the Cardinals’ draft weekend. What do you think of their analysis?
Chris Burke, SI.com
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The headliner here is CB Tyrann Mathieu, but it’s actually what Arizona did elsewhere that made this a very solid draft. G Jonathan Cooper (and later Earl Watford) will improve an awful O-line, while LB Kevin Minter was a solid add in Round 2 and DE/OLB Alex Okafor a steal in Round 4. Don’t sleep on the Stepfan Taylor-Andre Ellington duo at RB.
I agree with Burke that Minter and Okafor are solid adds and that Taylor and Ellington provide a potential long-term tandem at running back. But I think he underestimates what Mathieu can become—almost passing him off (unintentionally, no doubt).
The big “if” of Arizona’s draft is Mathieu and whether he can keep himself clean and away from drugs. Should he do that, there is no reason to believe he will not be the steal of the draft at No. 69 overall.
Vinnie Iyer, SportingNews.com
USA TODAY Sports
Their most-talked about pick was LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who is a wild card on and off the field. But they should get more attention for their sure-fire selections. North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper fills a huge need for interior blocking help. LSU inside linebacker Kevin Minter brings sound tackling to their 3-4, and Texas end/outside linebacker Alex Okafor gives them more pass-rush pop for it. Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor can be a short-term feature option with Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams trying to shake off injuries. Texas A&M quick slot receiver Ryan Swope is a good late-round flyer.
This sounds a lot like what Burke just said. I will add that Swope has the potential to become a great slot receiver. He is not very big, but at 6.375' and 205 pounds is big enough to absorb hits from safeties and linebackers. He is as tough as nails as well, so that will help.
Mel Kiper, ESPN.com
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
This offseason, there’s been almost a hysteria about their need to get better on the offensive line, with tackle mentioned often. But very quietly, rookies Bobby Massie and Nate Potter played a lot better on the edges toward the end of the season, and Levi Brown is also returning. That’s why I had guard as a bigger need. The Cardinals drafted a future Pro Bowl one in Jonathan Cooper.
Spot-on analysis from Kiper here, as the Cardinals’ need for a tackle was fabricated by media outlets assuming tackle had to be the pick (after everyone cooled off from their soap-box quarterback rants, that is).
One thing I want to point out is the mistake Kiper made by saying further down in his analysis that “we know Tyrann Mathieu is headed for the slot.” That is not the case, as it came out early after the pick that he would play safety and not corner.
Evan Silva, Yahoo! Sports
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I would like to have seen the Cardinals add a developmental quarterback like Tennessee's Tyler Bray, although Arians may believe he already has one in Ryan Lindley. A lingering concern in Arizona is offensive tackle play. The Cards attacked guard instead—and in Cooper got an outstanding player—but Levi Brown is still a worrisome proposition on Carson Palmer's blindside.
The latest tape on Brown suggests he is just fine at left tackle. Yes, he is coming off a season missed because of a serious triceps injury. But even if he is not ready to go at the start of the season, Potter will be. The second-year pro out of Boise State looks to have beefed up during the offseason, so I am left wondering if there is a chance he overtakes Brown in the lineup at some point.
Only time will tell.
And as for his insistence Keim and Arians should have taken a quarterback, it would have been forced and likely would have been a reach—especially Tyler Bray, who went undrafted anyway.
Rob Rang, CBS Sports
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Much of the pre-draft focus nationally was on Arizona’s tackles, but the interior was the scarier spot, assuming left tackle Levi Brown returns to health. Jonathan Cooper’s athleticism and versatility makes him a safe, solid pick, as was fellow guard Earl Watford three rounds later. […] The impressive haul continued through the third day. Alex Okafor has the talent to emerge as a standout pass-rusher. Running backs Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington could prove a strong thunder-and-lightning combination behind free-agent signee Rashard Mendenhall.
Rang said it better than the rest did when he described the Cardinals’ draft weekend. It was a big-time upgrade to the offensive line with Cooper, and Watford has potential down the road if given time to develop. With the depth now on the line, there is no reason he cannot sit and learn properly.
I was iffy on the Taylor pick at first because of the talent still available at the position—namely Ellington—but with Ellington’s addition, this could be a great one-two-punch-to-be.