The long wait for the NFL draft finally ended this past weekend and the Arizona Cardinals draft provided plenty of insight into the direction of this football team. General manager Steve Keim and Bruce Arians seem to be on the same page in what they are trying to build this team into. It revolves around two main attributes. Physicality and speed.
The Cardinals got both in first-round pick Deone Bucannon. Many Cardinals fans seemed surprised when his name was read and many simply didn’t know who he was. Bucannon was somebody I had as a potential target for the Cardinals for sometime although I figured he would go later in the second round. As the draft drew closer the shortage of quality safeties seemed to elevate the whole class. All four of the safeties projected to go in the first two rounds ended up getting taken in the first. Keim brought up the name Adrian Wilson during his post first-round press conference and that’s all Cardinals fans need to know about what kind of potential this kid has.
The Cardinals definitely showed their desire for physicality with their second-round pick. Troy Niklas is a beast at 6’6” 270 lbs and has brought comparisons to former Bruce Arians favorite Heath Miller. Arians prefers his tight ends to block first and catch second and Niklas has proven he can do both at while at Notre Dame. It’s clear that the Cardinals are looking to beef up their front line in an effort to give Carson Palmer more time to throw and running back Andre Ellington bigger holes to shoot through.
This theme continued for the Cardinals. They drafted two defensive ends and two speedy wide receivers to finish up their weekend. The most talked about pick for the Cardinals was in the fourth round when they drafted Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. For those who regularly read my columns you will know that I have had him as a Cardinals target for some time. I have always thought that he would be a great fit with the Arians offense and that he had the highest upside of any quarterback in this draft. He has plenty of work to do though to reach his potential.
The one position that did not get called for the Cardinals that many experts were predicting was offensive line. I think this speaks to the confidence the coaching staff has in Bradley Sowell and/or Bobby Massie to take over the right tackle spot this next season. It’s always possible that the team could bring back Eric Winston if either of these guys falter. Winston is still a free agent after having a solid season for the Cardinals last year.
Even with three days of drafting future Cardinals, Keim, Arians and company weren’t done yet. The front office got a jump on the undrafted free agent market Saturday once they took their sixth-round pick Walt Powell. The team is expected to bring in at least fourteen undrafted free agents to add to their expanded roster.
The exciting part of the draft is over. Now it’s time to strap on the pads and get to work. Only then will we know just how good this draft class actually is.
Follow Brandon on Twitter @bshipleyaz.