Arizona Cardinals Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue – Round 2
The Cardinals took a long-term view with the selection of Moore. While Moore could contribute as a rookie and has big-play ability, he probably won’t receive a lot of targets thanks to veterans DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Christian Kirk ahead of him on the depth chart. After 2021, however, Moore should take on a bigger role. Green is nearing the end of his excellent career, while Kirk is entering free agency. Hence, Moore could be starting across from Hopkins come 2022 or be in the starting trio if Kirk is re-signed.

There is no doubt Moore is a dynamic playmaker who is a threat to score on any touch of the football. He has serious first-step explosion with acceleration to hit the open field and a second gear to run away from the defense. Moore is a true speed receiver who can score from any place on the field with mismatch speed for the NFL.

Defenders really struggle to run with Moore, who is extremely fast in a straight line while being sudden and explosive in and out of his cuts. That leads to him creating separation from coverage, and Moore is deadly in the open field. He has tremendous yards-after-the-catch ability with his elite speed and elusive moves in the open field.

Moore’s game-breaking speed could make him an excellent wide receiver as a long-term partner with Hopkins. Before long, Moore could be a solid starter for Arizona.

2020: Josh Jones, OT
2019: Zach Allen, DE
2018: Christian Kirk, WR
2017: Budda Baker, S
2016: Evan Boehm, C
2015: Markus Golden, LB
2014: Deone Bucannon, S
2013: Kevin Minter, LB

Most Likely To Bust

Marco Wilson, CB, Florida – Round 4
Steve Keim is fortunate he is still the general manager of the Cardinals because he has blown a lot of early-round picks in recent years. I was on the money about Haason Reddick, Robert Nkdemiche, and Kareem Martin having bust potential. D.J. Humphries has been okay, but not as good as you would except for a first-round offensive tackle. This year was a more difficult choice becayse the Cardinals were without a third-round pick and I don’t see strong likelihoods of Zaven Collins or Rondale Moore busting. A fourth-round pick not working out is not much of a bust given that the majority of fourth-rounders don’t stick in the NFL, but of the Cardinals first three picks, Wilson looks like the most likely to not pan out.

Wilson (6-0, 191) has decent size, but he lacks speed and athleticism. After showing some initial promise, Wilson never became a dominant corner, and his senior year was underwhelming. On top of the limitations, Wilson already suffered two torn ACL injuries during his high school and college career. Wilson looks like a backup-caliber player who might have a hard time being counted on to cover pro receivers. It would not be a surprise if he doesn’t work out for Arizona.

2020: Leki Fotu, DT
2019: Kyler Murray, QB
2018: Mason Cole, C
2017: Haason Reddick, LB
2016: Robert Nkemdiche, DL
2015: D.J. Humphries, OT
2014: Kareem Martin, DE
2013: Tyrann Mathieu, CB/S

Potential Boom Pick

Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa – Round 1
General manager Steve Keim has a bad track record of drafting prospects who are better athletes than players – Robert Nkemdiche, Haason Reddick, D.J. Humphries, etc. -, so that makes Arizona’s selection of Collins a bit scary. Collins, however, is probably a better player than of those busts, and I believe defensive coordinator Vance Joseph knows what he is doing and will utilize Collins well. If he does, Collins definitely has boom potential at thte next level.

Modern NFL defenses need linebackers who are capable of contributing to pass coverage given how much passing drives today’s game. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Collins is that kind of linebacker, as he is a true asset to defend passing attacks while having the size of some defensive ends. He does some very unique things in pass coverage for a linebacker. Collins shows explosive speed, athleticism and the abilities to cover and play in space. He can manage a lot of ground in zone coverage while also helping to pick up tight ends and running backs. His size also means he serve as a middle or outside linebacker in pass coverage. Thus, he is an excellent fit as a sub-package linebacker for the pro game.

On top of being able to cover, Collins can rush off the edge, showing speed to blow by offensive tackles and close on the quarterback in a hurry. He is agile at dodging blockers and uses his length to shed blocks. In the NFL, Collins could fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker who rushes the quarterback on a consistent basis but also is a good option to drop in coverage. That kind of linebacker makes it tough on quarterbacks and offensive coordinators to know what he is going to do post-snap.

In the ground game, Collins uses his length to get off blocks and is a good pursuit defender. Some teams, however, knocked him for not being a physical defender who can take on blocks from guards and offensive tackles. Those teams also believe he is not a forceful tackler and needs to improve in that regard to avoid broken tackles on pro running backs.

Collins could form a dynamic linebacker tandem with Isaiah Simmons. With their ability to cover, rush, and hunt down ball-carriers, it could be very tough for offenses to know what Collins and Simmons will do post-snap. With his versatile skill set and upside, Collins could be a boom pick for Arizona.

2020: Isaiah Simmons, LB
2019: Byron Murphy, CB
2018: Josh Rosen, QB
2017: Chad Williams, WR
2016: Brandon Williams, CB
2015: David Johnson, RB
2014: Troy Niklas, TE
2013: Jonathan Cooper, G

Future Depth Player

Victor Dimukeje, DE, Duke – Round 6
The Cardinals addressed their pass rush in the offseason by signing of J.J. Watt and drafting Zaven Collins, but they could still use some depth behind those two and Chandler Jones. Dimukeje produced 16 sacks over the past two seasons and put steady pressure on the quarterback. At 6-foot-1, 262 pounds, Dimukeje is short and lacks the length to be a three-down starter, but he could be a designated pass rusher who rotates into the game in nickel and dime situations. In that role, Dimukeje would be a valuable backup and rotational player for Arizona.

2020: Eno Benjamin, RB
2019: Deionte Thompson, S
2018: Chase Edmonds, RB
2017: Will Holden, OT
2016: Harlan Miller, CB
2015: Rodney Gunter, DT
2014: Ed Stinson, DE
2013: Ryan Swope, WR

Walt’s 2021 NFL Draft Grades:

16. Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa – B+ Grade
The Cardinals have a dynamic offense, but they struggled to put pressure on the quarterback and cover the middle of the field last year. Zaven Collins can help in both regards. He’s a dynamic, versatile linebacker who happens to be a great fit in Arizona’s defense. I like this pick, as Collins will be needed to stop all of the powerhouse offenses in the NFC West.

49. Rondale Moore, WR/RB, Purdue – B Grade
You can’t be surprised that Kliff Kingsbury made this pick. Rondale Moore is a dynamic gadget weapon. He doesn’t have a natural position, but the Cardinals will be able to use him all over the place. Kyler Murray is probably happy about this selection, though he would have been better off getting an offensive line upgrade.

136. Marco Wilson, S/CB, Florida – C Grade
The Cardinals missed out on Tyson Campbell in the second round, so I’m not surprised they went after someone like Marco Wilson, who is incredibly athletic. However, the Cardinals announced Wilson as a safety, which is surprising. Safety was a need as well, but we’ll have to see how Wilson transitions to this position.

210. Victor Dimukeje, DE, Duke – A- Grade
Victor Dimukeje is just an average athlete, but he was a very productive player at Duke. The Cardinals need all the pass-rushing help they can get, and Dimukeje easily could have gone earlier than this. I’m a fan of this pick.

223. Tay Gowan, CB, Central Florida – B+ Grade
Tay Gowan was productive at Central Florida, and he also has a nice size (6-1, 186) and athletic combination. The Cardinals did well to find a cornerback with upside late in the draft , given the dire need at the position.

243. James Wiggins, S, Cincinnati – A- Grade
I mocked James Wiggins a round earlier than this, so I’m a fan of the value the Cardinals are getting in the middle of the seventh round. Wiggins is very athletic and possesses great upside, so Wiggins has a decent chance to make something of himself in the pros.

247. Michael Menet, C, Penn State – A Grade
Protecting the brittle Kyler Murray is extremely important, so I’m a fan of the Cardinals using this selection on Michael Menet. The Penn State product was slated in the fifth round of my mock, so this is definitely a nice value selection.

2021 NFL Draft Team Grade: B-. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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