The 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone and this year’s prospects are now reporting to rookie mini-camps all around the league. The Arizona Cardinals entered this year’s draft looking to address a number of needs along the offensive side of the ball, including tackle and wide receiver, while also looking to address the elephant in the room: a legitimate quarterback of the future.
The Cardinals were heavily involved in draft day trade rumors to move into the top five, but with a no-mans-land pick at 15 and minimal draft capital, the price was considered too steep to make reasonable noise. With Denver passing on a quarterback, the possibility of moving up became a real possibility while drastically reducing the price to make a move.
In the end, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim and staff executed a trade to acquire Josh Rosen without selling the future of the franchise, a move that will likely provide financial freedom over the next four or five seasons. With top tier quarterback salaries approaching $30 million per season, having a signal caller on a rookie deal ($4.4 million a year for four years) will allow the franchise to provide additional weapons and create a more cap-friendly roster built towards longevity. The Cardinals will be amongst the league leaders in cap space in 2019, something that will go a long ways towards signing key future free agents such as David Johnson, Deone Bucannon and Markus Golden.
Overall, the Cardinals drafted six players, five of which play on the offensive side of the ball. The Cardinals finished last season ranked 22nd in total offense and 25th in scoring offense, so it was necessary to ease the burden placed upon the defense before entering next season. Injuries on both sides of the ball plagued the team throughout the 2017 season, but it was clear that Arizona wanted to add quality depth along the offensive side of the ball.
Below is a list of the draft choices and undrafted free agents that will be vying for roster spots this fall and where they may fit in terms of scheme and roster management.
Christian Kirk, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M: Round 2, 47th Overall
A local product, Kirk was once honored by the Cardinals for his exceptional play when he starred at Scottsdale Saguaro High School. Now, Kirk is afforded the opportunity to play in his hometown as he learns the ropes of the NFL.
Kirk will complement Larry Fitzgerald in an otherwise underwhelming receiving corps, and likely operate out of the slot in a majority of his reps. He has the quickness to provide Bradford with short and intermediate targets while occasionally stretching the defense vertically. Kirk will provide special teams value as a return man immediately.
Mason Cole, Center/Guard, Michigan: Round 3, 97th Overall
Cole will likely provide depth along the interior of the offensive line during his first season in the league. With collegiate starts at left tackle and center, he provides versatility behind an offensive line that currently offers more questions than answers. Mason Cole will utilize very good football intelligence and competitive toughness as he carves out a role in the Cardinals future.
Chase Edmonds, Running Back, Fordham: Round 4, 134th Overall
An undersized back, Edmonds was productive during his collegiate career, rushing for over 5,800 yards and averaging 6.2 yards per carry. At 5’9” and 210 pounds, Edmonds uses very good balance to create additional yards after contact. With David Johnson taking a bulk of the carries, Edmonds will battle with T.J. Logan to replace the production left by Kerwynn Williams.
Chris Campbell, Cornerback, Penn State: Round 6, 182nd Overall
The Cardinals have been searching for a corner opposite of Patrick Peterson in recent seasons. Campbell caught the eye of Cardinals scouts after a solid showing during the Senior Bowl and will likely add depth during his first season in Arizona if he makes the active roster. Campbell is very good in zone coverage and offers solid support against the run, but will need to prove his ability to play physical in the Al Holcomb/Steve Wilks defense. With the Cardinals playing roughly 60% of their defensive snaps in Nickel/Dime packages, Campbell will have a shot to work his way into the rotation throughout training camp.
Josh Rosen, Quarterback, UCLA: Round 1, 10th Overall
Rosen will likely sit behind Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon for most, if not all, of the season. If Bradford can stay healthy, it will afford Rosen the time to learn life in the NFL before taking the reins in 2019. Should the Cardinals struggle, Rosen will likely get a few starts near the end of the season to vault him into the starting role moving forward. Look for the Cardinals to be a run-heavy team while leaning on the play action passing game to keep Bradford healthy.
Rosen wins with accuracy, arm strength, and intelligence and was the top rated Quarterback in the ITP Draft Guide.
Korey Cunningham, Tackle, Cincinnati: Round 7, 254th Overall
Cunningham is an intriguing player who continues to develop as a left tackle after entering college as a 220-pound tight end. Cunningham caught the eye of numerous scouts after running a 4.90 40-yard dash at 6’6” and 305 pounds. With D.J. Humphries returning from injury, Cunningham may have an opportunity to snag a few extra reps as he navigates training camp, something that will either prove his worth towards the future or provide tape for his next opportunity.
The Cardinals signed a large contingent of Undrafted Free Agents (UDFA) to round out this year’s rookie class. Cardinals insider Mike Jurecki lists the following UDFA to keep an eye on entering training camp:
Dennis Gardeck, LB (University of Sioux Falls) 6’0” 242
A.J. Howard, S (Appalachian State) 5’11” 203
Alec James, DE (Wisconsin) 6’3” 272
Chad Kanoff, QB (Princeton) 6’4” 219
Tavierre Thomas, CB (Ferris State) 6’0” 202
Trent Sherfield, WR (Vanderbilt) 6’1” 205
Complete List of UDFA