After a successful 10-6 season in 2013, the Arizona Cardinals went into the 2014 NFL Draft looking to upgrade a few positions. It was expected that the Cardinals would look for a quarterback and they got one in the fourth round with Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas. The team’s first four draft picks however were interesting to say the least. Here is how Arizona did in the first three rounds of the draft.
Round 1 (Pick 27)- Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
No one saw Bucannon being taken in the first round and this can easily be looked at a reach by the Cardinals. It is true that the Cardinals were middle of the pack in pass defense last year but this screams of using a pick too early. Bucannon likely would have been available in the second round but did have 78 tackles last season and six interceptions. He is going to start for Arizona but the Cardinals probably could have traded down in the second round and got extra picks before taking Bucannon. Grade: B-
Round 2 (Pick 52)- Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
There was a definite need at the tight end position and Niklas fills that hole. At 6-7 and 270 pounds, he has the ability to turn into a Jimmy Graham-like receiver from the tight end position. He had just 28 catches this past season for Notre Dame but in Bruce Arians’ offense, he is going to be expected to double that in all likelihood. He was the best tight end on the board at that point and Arizona made the right move in taking Niklas. Grade: B+
Round 3 (Pick 84)- Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
Martin was a very interesting selection in the third round by the Cardinals. He isn’t going to start from day one but believes he can be a solid 3-4 defensive end before all is said and done. He averaged nearly 15 tackles for loss per year during his college career and finished his senior season with 11 sacks which shot him up the draft board. He will give Calais Campbell a run for his money at the left defensive end position but probably won’t see a starting role anytime soon. Grade: C+
Round 3 (Pick 91)- John Brown, WR, Pittsburg State
There is a lot to like about Brown and especially his 4.34 40 speed but taking him late in the third round seemed way too early for the Pittsburg State receiver. His main job to start with will be returning kicks and punts and had five return touchdowns during his college career. He appears to be the perfect receiver to open the middle of the field up for tight ends like Niklas. The selection however was well too early and that is a major problem. Grade: C
Arizona had seven picks in the draft and has to hope that the players on the roster already will continue to step up moving forward as the NFC West continues to improve on a year-to-year basis. The Cardinals reached too much in the draft however.