Grade : B+
Round 1 Pick 27 – Deone Bucannon S
Round 2 Pick 52 – Troy Niklas TE
Round 3 Pick 84 – Kareem Martin DE
Round 3 Pick 91 – John Brown WR
Round 4 Pick 120 – Logan Thomas QB
Round 5 Pick 160 – Ed Stinson DE
Round 6 Pick 196 – Walt Powell WR
If the Cardinals played in the AFC West you can make a good case that they would have made it to the AFC Championship game. As it is the Cardinals path to the post-season is blocked by the San Francisco 49ers and the reigning Superbowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks. Has the draft allowed the Cardinals to catch up with this tough competition?
The first thing the Cardinals did in the draft was to trade down. The Saints took the Cardinals 20th pick in return for giving away their 27th overall pick and their third round pick.
Steve Keim then used the 27th pick to draft safety Deone Bucannon. The consensus from
analysts seems to be that taking Bucannon in the first round was a stretch. The golden rule of the draft however is to take the best player on your board.
Looking at the situation of the draft it is fairly clear that this is what the Cardinals did. Pre-draft there was plenty of speculation that the Cardinals might take a cornerback or a quarterback.
By the time the Cardinals were on the clock at pick 20 the likes of Darqueze Dennard and Jason Verrett were still available at cornerback whilst signal callers Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater were also still there. Had the Cardinals wanted players in this position they could have done so.
Instead, they took safety Bucannon and you have got to trust that the back office knows what they are doing. Bucannon should give the Cardinal secondary the heavy hitting enforcer that they lacked last season. He already has the strength to clean out receivers and has the frame to add maybe another 10 to 15 pounds of muscle. Add this to his all-round skills at ripping the ball and stopping the run and the Cardinals are onto a winner.
The Cardinals continued the solid selections in the second, third and fourth rounds of the draft. Second round pick 6'6'' 270 pounds tight end Troy Niklas isn't flashy but he is probably the best blocking tight end in the draft. He should offer both great pass protection and run blocking.
His big downside is in runs after the catch. For a guy of his side you would think he would break tackles and grab yards after the catch. At the moment though he tends to hit the floor with the first contact. Fix this issue though and Niklas could be a real threat over
In the third round the Cardinals sent about putting their two third round picks to good use.
With the 84th overall pick the Cardinals drafted 6'6'' 272 pound defensive end Kareem Martin. Martin showed real progress last season as he increased his sack total from 4 sacks to 11.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss.
Despite, these statistics against the pass Martin is best against the run. Considering how the Seahawks run the ball more than anyone and how Kaepernick is also a threat with
his feet this could be a really smart pick.
The Cardinals followed this pick up by drafting wide receiver John Brown. You might question why the Cardinals took Brown over Bruce Ellington but this has got to be chalked up to the Cardinals drafting the player they see as the best pick.
Brown is lightening quick running a 4.34 40-yard-dash. Although he went to a smaller school he performed well at the Shrine bowl and looks like someone to watch on special
teams. The Cardinals also took what might be the best developmental QB in round 4 when they drafted Logan Thomas. A big tall QB with a cannon of an arm if Thomas can improve his accuracy then he could be a long term replacement for the aging Carson Palmer.
Overall, the Cardinals improved during the 2014 draft. Is the improvement enough to get them a playoff spot though?
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