Josh Weinfuss breaks down the Arizona Cardinals' 2017 draft class.
Round 1, No. 13 overall: Haason Reddick, ILB, Temple
My take: This is a pick for the present and future for the Cardinals. Reddick is the type of player who can contribute to Arizona's defense immediately, both at inside linebacker and as a pass rusher. He's also the future at inside linebacker, someone who can be groomed by Karlos Dansby, whom coach Bruce Arians called one of the best mentors in football. Reddick's versatility will allow Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher to use Reddick across the field, similar to safety Tyrann Mathieu, which will allow him to adjust schemes on the fly. While Reddick may not end up being the difference in Arizona going to the playoffs or staying home in January, his addition not only shows the Cardinals want to win now -- instead of, say, using their first-round pick on a quarterback to build for the future -- but he's the type of player who gives the Cardinals the added boost on defense to return to the postseason.
The next Von Miller? There was one player both Arians and Reddick mentioned quickly when asked who Reddick's best comparable was: Broncos linebacker Von Miller. Talk about lofty expectations. Arians said the primary difference is Reddick is a little bit smaller than Miller. Arians also described Reddick's speed off the edge as "unbelievable." If Reddick can be half the player Miller -- who has 73.5 career sacks -- has been, the Cardinals may have just drafted a franchise pillar for years to come.
Immediate impact: Reddick may be the rare Cardinals' first-round pick in the Arians and general manager Steve Keim era who plays significant snaps as a rookie. Arians said, because of his versatility, Reddick was drafted to play in Arizona's sub packages, which he said the Cardinals play 65 percent of the time. "When you draft him for your defense, you're really drafting for your nickel defense because that's what we play the most," Arians said. "He should find an immediate role in the nickel defense." Reddick's transition into a nickel linebacker will be helped by his ability to drop into coverage, potentially making him a player who the Cardinals can't afford to take off the field.
Round 2, No. 36: Budda Baker, S, Washington
My take: The Cardinals traded up nine spots in the second round to draft safety Budda Baker out of Washington. At 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds, he might not have the size of a traditional NFL safety but he has the instincts and ball smarts that could make him an immediate impact player. He has been compared to Arizona's Tyrann Mathieu and Seattle's Earl Thomas, two smaller safeties who are among the best in the league when they're healthy. Baker is the type of multi-dimensional safety -- someone who said he could play free safety, strong safety, cornerback and nickel -- the Cardinals covet, giving them another player who can allow defensive coordinator James Bettcher to change schemes without having to substitute. That's one thing that helped Arizona's defense flourish in 2015 when Mathieu was healthy. Baker also gives the Cardinals an insurance policy should Mathieu get hurt again.
Motherly motivation: Baker, whose given name is Bishard, draws motivation on the football field from his mother, Michelle, who's a cancer survivor and suffers from Crohn's Disease. Baker said she's constantly going to doctor's appointments and is also on oxygen. Baker said when he hears teammates complain about running sprints or working out, he thinks about his mother and her daily tribulations relating to her health, which it helps get him through any tough times. “She's the rock in the family,” Baker said. Michelle was emotional, crying when Baker was picked Friday, in part because he'll be staying on the West Coast, a few-hour flight from their home state of Washington.
NFL vets mentor Baker: Baker enters the NFL with two of the game's best all-time safeties as mentors. Former Tampa Bay great Ronde Barber, who is close with Arians and played under Baker's position coach at Washington, Jimmy Lake, worked with Baker. Thomas, who shares an agent with Baker, has worked with him too. They helped teach Baker how to watch film and talked to Baker about playing safety in the NFL at his size. One thing Thomas taught Baker was how quickly NFL quarterbacks release the ball, forcing defensive backs to watch their target first and then look for the ball.
Round 3, No. 98: Chad Williams, WR, Grambling
My take: This could be the receiver the Cardinals needed to find in this year's draft. At 6-foot-1, 204 pounds, he was a second-team FCS All-American last season after he caught 90 passes for 1,337 yards and 11 touchdowns, leading the Southwestern Athletic Conference in every category. Arians said a “top-round” receiver wasn't necessary, and he was right. Given Williams' size and intangibles, he looks as though he'll be able to fill the void left by Michael Floyd. He might need to add some weight and learn to play better with a defensive back hanging on him. But Williams has speed -- he ran a low 4.4-second 40-yard dash, according to Keim -- and size, making him the ideal Arians receiver.
How he fits: If Williams can adjust to the NFL quickly, he can be the ideal complement to Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, J.J. Nelson and Jaron Brown. Williams can an option for quarterback Carson Palmer deep along the sideline and someone who can take advantage of mismatches against smaller defensive backs, particularly as he stretches the field. Keim expects Williams to go through a rough patch while adjusting to the NFL -- most, if not all, players from small schools do -- but he could be the player to round out Arizona's receiving corps and help the unit put up 2015-esque numbers.
Round 4, No. 115: Dorian Johnson, G, Pittsburgh
My take: In a draft slim on offensive linemen, the Cardinals might have landed one of the best in this year's class with guard Dorian Johnson in the fourth round. He'll add depth to a team which has just four guards. As long as Johnson is healthy, he has the potential to be a long-term staple in Arizona's lineup whenever he cracks it. He showed his durability in college, starting 39 straight games at Pittsburgh, and he's a converted tackle, so he has a more athletic body type compared to other guards.
How he fits: Johnson could fit in two different roles as a rookie. He can either be Mike Iupati's replacement-in-waiting, so next season would be spent sitting and learning. Or, if Arizona feels the need, he can move to right guard and compete with Evan Boehm for the starting job. Johnson fits in with the recent run of Cardinals draft picks who are selected to be replacements down the road, like Robert Nkemdiche.
Round 5, No. 157: Will Holden, OT, Vanderbilt
My take: The Cardinals find another offensive lineman. In tackle Will Holden out of Vanderbilt, the Cardinals add more depth to their current offensive line room as well as a potential replacement for Jared Veldheer at right tackle whenever his days in Arizona come to an end. Holden is 6-foot-7 and 311 pounds and known for his toughness and fundamentals.
How he fits: In the immediate future, Holden could play his way into the Cardinals' swing-tackle position since he has experience at both the right and left side. The Cards don't have a swing tackle on the roster, and the addition of Holden may eliminate the need to sign a veteran in the summer months. In the long term, Holden may be considered as the heir to Veldheer.
Round 5, No. 179: T.J. Logan, RB, North Carolina
My take: What's not to like about this fifth-round selection? He's fast -- with the fastest 40 time among running backs at the NFL combine at 4.37 seconds -- and versatile. He's a running back who can catch passes and return kicks.
How he fits: Even though Logan hasn't returned punts, he can learn. Depth in the Cardinals running back room is slimmer since it was announced that Andre Ellington would be more of a receiver this season. Logan adds another body and will compete to be Arizona's kick returner and, if he can grasp it, its punt returner, too.
Round 6, No. 208, Rudy Ford, S, Auburn
My take: The Cardinals may have found themselves the cornerback they wanted in this year's draft. Ford, who played everywhere in the defensive backfield at Auburn, said the Cardinals told him they'll play him at cornerback, adding more intrigue to organized team activities and minicamp. Ford will compete against Justin Bethel and Brandon Williams to be the starting cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson.
How he fits: Ford is coming off a multi-dimensional college career, where he played cornerback, nickel and safety for Auburn. With the Cardinals telling him they want him to play cornerback, Ford gives Arizona more versatility in the secondary because he can move inside and outside.