With the draft in the books time to go back and do a wrap up of how teams made out. I might be a bit of a harsh critic to the top 3 round picks, but that is where you need to hit in the draft to be successful. Sure most of the league is 4th rounders and later, but any that turn into Pro Bowlers or All-Pro players is mostly out of luck. So without further adieu, another strong draft coming from the Cardinals and their smart GM Steve Keim.
1 (8) - Isaiah Simmons S/LB Clemson - A
3 (8) - Josh Jones OT Houston - A+
This draft has to come with the caveat that their 2nd round selection was technically DeAndre Hopkins, which continues to baffle me. I actually think they might have taken a tackle or receiver with their first pick had Isaiah Simmons not fallen to him. At that point, they had no choice, but to take one of the best athletes in the draft. Steve Keim who was one of the first innovators trying to make the hybrid linebacker work with guys like Haasan Reddick, Deone Bucannon, and Budda Baker over the years. He finally found his white whale in Simmons in my opinion who can come in and provide that juice in the middle of their defense. My biggest worry with Simmons though and my only hesitation is where ever he goes, he needs a strong defensive coordinator who will know what to do with him. He has the talents to be a freak as an edge rusher, linebacker, safety, or slot corner, but if you put all that on his plate right away I think it could stunt his growth and development in the NFL. For the Cardinals I think he will be a nice chess piece match up guy to spy Russell Wilson, defend Cooper Kupp, and stuff the 49ers run game. He probably will never have a defined position, but will be a dynamic weapon on defense. However, his impact will never be as quantifiable as say a Chase Young or Derrick Brown who will have higher sack totals to their names. Then to come around and steal Josh Jones at the top of the 3rd round was amazing in my opinion. Keim has been very good of late getting guys like Zach Allen, Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, Budda Baker, Deionte Thompson, and now Josh Jones later than they were predicted to go. All of those guys have had varying success, but all are still young with a ton of upside. Jones to me is a better prospect than say an Ezra Cleveland, or Austin Jackson who all went before him at tackle. My only issue is he is not a good fit for right tackle and I am not sure current incumbent left tackle D.J. Humphries is either. One will need to give it a go and see if they work their. Either way Jones is amazing value here and hats off to you Mr. Keim.
4 (8) - Leki Fotu DT Utah - B+
4 (25) - Rashard Lawrence DT LSU - C+
6 (23) - Evan Weaver LB Cal - C
7 (8) - Eno Benjamin RB Arizona St - A+
Steve Keim had a plan clearly this off season and that was to game plan against in division rivals the 49ers and their run game. They took two nice rotational interior defensive tackles in Fotu and Lawrence. I have more high hopes for Fotu who comes from a quietly improving Utah program that has done a very good job of putting talent into the NFL. He is also already a stud run defender, which will give him a nice high floor to at least contribute right away. Lawrence has the higher upside as a more talented athlete who will go to the five-technique for the Cardinals. However, he is still inconsistent with his technique and is not as ready to play as Fotu. The both of them were drafted with stopping the 49ers run game in mind without a doubt in my opinion. Same goes for drafting the tackling machine Weaver who has high instincts despite a low floor athleticism wise. I kind of like the pick since he can play in this league, but after getting Simmons, to go along with veterans Jordan Hicks and De'Vondre Campbell I am no sure why they needed another run stuffing centric linebacker. Another edge rusher would have been a bigger need to me. Benjamin was a steal in a draft where teams were smart in letting running backs fall for once. The former Sun Devil could have been taken as high as the 2nd round with his pass catching abilities. He can play in this league and I will not be shocked if he becomes a better back than Kenyan Drake for their offense. To me Steve Keim continues to be a very good drafter and continues to build up a great roster that will be a tough task for any team in the NFC to beat. It all depends on Murray's improvement in year two, but I do love this roster and I think they have a better team than the Rams right now. Overall, this draft gets a strong A in my opinion just off the first two picks of the draft. Following it up getting potential starters in Fotu, Lawrence, and Benjamin is only icing on top of a great draft cake.