Arizona Cardinals: Complete 2014 NFL Draft Wrap-Up and Analysis
The 2014 NFL draft is complete, and the Arizona Cardinals made out well with their picks. General manager Steve Keim worked a Day 1 trade to add an extra pick on Day 2, and overall, he did a great job adding talent and depth at positions of need.
Fans should be excited for the future based not only on this draft, but also on last year’s draft and the two offseasons as a whole Keim has managed. He has done a fantastic job filling immediate needs through free agency and finding value in the draft, and as a result, the Cardinals are set up to succeed for the foreseeable future.
Here is a wrap-up of the draft and what is next for Keim and the Cardinals as we await the start of the 2014 NFL season.
- Round 1, Pick 27 (via NO): Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State
- Round 2, Pick 52: Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
- Round 3, Pick 84: Kareem Martin, DE/OLB, North Carolina
- Round 3, Pick 91 (via NO): John Brown, WR, Pittsburg State
- Round 4, Pick 120: Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
- Round 5, Pick 160: Ed Stinson, DE, Alabama
- Round 6, Pick 196: Walter Powell, WR, Murray State
Overall, Keim did work once again on the NFL draft. At first glance, some fans may be curious or even angry at a couple of the picks—like Logan Thomas—but when you think of the future, the Cardinals GM did a fantastic job of setting up the team to succeed now and down the road.
The first four picks all will either start or compete for playing time in all three phases of the game, and the final three were made with the future in mind.
Be happy about this draft, Cardinals fans, because Keim nailed it.
Best Pick: Deone Bucannon
You could argue that strong safety wasn’t a need, and you could even win that argument in some circles. But any time you can upgrade a key position on one of the best defenses in the NFL, you do it.
Bucannon will start right away at strong safety, giving coordinator Todd Bowles’ unit the punisher in the secondary it was missing a year ago.
The former Washington State standout is a lot like former Cardinals great Adrian Wilson in the way he plays: He’s faster than he looks, hits harder than it looks like he should be able to and can cover tight ends well enough to leave him one-on-one against the good ones.
You think he’s a hard-hitting safety now? Just wait until he hits the gym at the Cardinals’ facility in Tempe and adds 10 to 15 pounds of muscle over the next couple of seasons.
Worst Pick: Ed Stinson
Keim spoke at the post-draft press conference Saturday about draft scenarios he and head coach Bruce Arians discussed. This was one of them:
"BA and I talked several times about scenarios, and [one of them was] if we didn’t get Kareem Martin, potentially we could get Ed Stinson in later rounds. And we were able to get both."
Martin is a pass-rushing defensive end who is good against the run but will stand up as an outside linebacker. Stinson is an underachieving, undersized hybrid defensive end and defensive tackle with zero pass-rushing prowess and a good motor who will play 3-technique defensive end in Bowles’ scheme.
They are two different players who will do different things for the defense. But that’s not why Stinson is the worst pick.
He’s the worst pick (and it’s really nitpicking, because he’s not that bad a pick) because 1) he won’t play much—if at all—in 2014 because of the defensive line depth, and 2) because even if he does play, his upside is not that of a future solid starter. He will struggle to hold a roster spot as soon as a higher draft pick or free agent is added.
But again, it’s really nitpicking, because Keim was masterful in making selections throughout the draft.
Undrafted Free Agents
I already touched on the undrafted free agents Arizona has signed so far, but let’s go over all of them again here so you don't have to break away from this piece.
Kevin Smith, WR, Washington
He’s a slot receiver with some return ability, but he won’t make the roster.
Zach Bauman, RB, Northern Arizona
Local kid, attended Hamilton High School in Chandler before heading north to Flagstaff to play for the Lumberjacks. Small, shifty and explosive, could be a practice-squad guy.
Chandler Catanzaro, K, Clemson
Big-legged, inaccurate kicker from Clemson. He will kick footballs while Jay Feely takes water breaks and be cut before the season begins.
Kadeem Williams, OL, Albany State
Mammoth offensive lineman who dominated small-school opponents. Has a future on Sundays, but the future could be distant.
Justin Renfrow, DL, Miami
Big defensive end and part-time starter at Miami. He’s a camp body but could mature and develop into a rotational guy in a couple of years. Justin Renfrow has an outside chance of practice-squad inclusion.
Glenn Carson, ILB, Penn State
A strong but non-athletic inside linebacker who possesses good football instincts coming out of “Linebacker U.” Likely a practice squad signing somewhere, but probably not in Arizona.
Kevin Palmer, OT, Baylor
Played mostly right tackle for the Bears as a senior. His 13 starts in 2013 were the sum of his career starts; played in 45 games in four seasons.
Jonathan Brown, OLB, Illinois
The outside linebacker version of Carson: not athletic, slow but productive in college. He’s a leader by nature, so it’s no surprise Keim signed him. Practice-squad potential to get stronger and quicker.
Todd Washington, CB, Southeast Louisiana
Good, fluid athlete with solid upside. Possible nickel corner down the road, will have some time to develop while playing special teams. Watch this kid make the 53-man roster.
Brandon Sermons, DB, UCLA
Potential practice-squad guy, he’s versatile and can play anywhere in the defensive backfield. Short but quick, Brandon Sermons has return ability.
Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama
Could make the 53-man roster depending on what happens with right guard during camp. Trying to figure out how Anthony Steen went undrafted; could become a solid starter at right guard.
Tim Cornett, RB, UNLV
Not huge but not small either, Tom Cornett was highly productive at UNLV. All-time leader in rushing yards; only player in school history to lead the team in rushing four straight years.
What’s Next for the Cardinals?
Keim killed his second offseason in successive years—killed it without a spoon, even (obligatory link because that doesn’t make sense to you). It’s amazing how quickly the franchise turned around after he took over for failed general manager Rod Graves. Here’s an overview of the 2014 offseason:
- Solidified longtime problem at LT with Jared Veldheer
- Stole Antonio Cromartie for one year to give secondary filthy CB tandem
- Improved slot receiver, kick return and punt return spots with Ted Ginn Jr.
- Improved strong safety with first-round pick Bucannon
- Likely stole the tight end of the future in Round 2 with Niklas
- Improved pass rush with third-rounder Martin (watch out for him)
- Gave Arians his weapon of choice in WR Brown (T.Y. Hilton-like)
After all that in four short months, what is left to do? Not much but sit back and wait for camp to start, really.
One issue that could arise without further attention, however, is the right side of the line. If Earl Watford and either Bobby Massie or Bradley Sowell are not ready for starting duties at their respective positions, then look for Keim to make a call to free agents. Perhaps Eric Winston—who remains unsigned—would like to come back for another year or two; and maybe Daryn Colledge would also come back with a cheaper price tag.
That all remains to be seen, but it’s something to pay close attention to when camp opens on June 10.