TEMPE, Ariz. -- A wrap-up of the Arizona Cardinals' draft.
They addressed three of their most important needs: pass rush with defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche in the first round, center with Evan Boehm in the fourth round, and cornerback with Brandon Williams in the third and Harlan Miller in the sixth. The Cards’ two other picks -- safety Marqui Christian and guard Cole Toner -- add depth.
The only area the Cardinals didn't address was quarterback. With starting quarterback Carson Palmer turning 37 in December, the future of the position was expected to be addressed this year.
Best moves: The first came in the first round, when the Cardinals drafted Nkemdiche at No. 29. It was a steal. The Cards got a top-10 talent (if not better) with the third-to-last pick of the first round. They sounded convinced that his incident in an Atlanta hotel in December was an aberration. Considering the talent they picked up, the risk is worth it. The other best move was drafting Boehm in the fourth round from Missouri. He was one of about four or five true centers in this draft the Cardinals felt could start. With his experience -- 52 starts in four years -- he could give A.Q. Shipley a battle during training camp. Boehm is tough, having played all of last season with a high-ankle sprain, so the Cardinals could be replacing one hard-nosed center (Lyle Sendlein) with another.
Riskiest move: Any time a player doesn't have much experience at a position, he's a risk. Williams has the physical traits to compete for a starting job at cornerback. The question about him will be whether he can continue to learn the position and adapt to playing it in the NFL. His learning curve will be more extreme than he believes, but if there's an upside it's that the Cardinals can mold him to fit their system. If Williams doesn't pick up the position quickly enough, he'll start fighting against time. How quickly can he learn the position and become a starting corner in the NFL? Justin Bethel, who started the last two games of the regular season and the Cardinals' two playoff games, provides a case study of someone who is new to the position but is struggling to pick up the minute details of it.
Most surprising move: The Cardinals completed their draft without taking a quarterback. Surprising? Yes. Understandable? Kind of. There's no question that Arizona needs to find Palmer's replacement at some point in the near future, and with the bevy of options (15 were drafted this year) available, it made sense to think the Cardinals would pick one. But they didn't. In an interview with NFL Network after the Cards' draft was over, coach Bruce Arians said Arizona had a grade on a quarterback in every round but they were drafted before the Cardinals picked. It's obvious now that none were intriguing enough for the Cardinals to trade up. But in five years will this draft be regarded as the one where the Cardinals missed on the quarterback of the future?
File it away: Because of the depth -- or lack thereof -- at cornerback, Miller can make the 53-man roster. He has the size at a shade under 6 feet and the length that the Cardinals want at cornerback, as well as the footwork needed to be a press corner who can reroute. He might not be a starting corner in Week 1, but I can see him on the roster.
Thumbs up. The Cardinals filled significant needs at pass-rusher, defensive back and offensive line, and they were able to add depth at a couple of those positions.