By Jack Delaney on May 15, 2014
The Arizona Cardinals were very underrated in 2013, and several key additions could help to take this team on a playoff run in 2014. The Cardinals addressed several offensive and defensive needs in this year's draft, but are the selections good enough to help take over the NFC West?
Here is a look at the Cardinals' draft class from worst to first.
The 34-year-old Carson Palmer can't lead the Cardinals forever, and finding a quarterback in this draft was very important. The athleticism and natural release of Logan Thomas is amazing, but with his 29 interceptions in three seasons, I think he has a very long-term developmental process that might not pan out in the NFL. Zach Mettenberger or Derek Carr would have been better fits to take over in the next year or two.
A sixth-round pick can't really hurt you, but Arizona already selected a smaller receiver early in the draft. The 5-foot-11, 189-pound Walt Powell will most likely end up as a return man.
You can't doubt the power of 6-foot-3, 287-pound Ed Stinson, but his lack of speed is a concern if he is going to be chasing Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson around. He tends to rely on his strength and makes limited movements when plugging up a running back or quarterback which will hurt the Cardinals in such a fast division.
The Cardinals wanted to go small and quick at the wide receiver position with 5-foot-10 John Brown, but Arians should have started a replacement search for 30-year-old Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals have a limited span to make a Super Bowl run before Carson Palmer retires, and trading up to try and grab Mike Evans or Sammy Watkins would have made sense.
He could add some weight, but 6-foot-6, 272-pound Kareem Martin was a nice pickup for the Cardinals. Creating turnovers on defense will help to put the offense in a good position, and his skill at swatting the ball will help to improve the 14th-ranked pass defense from 2013.
The Cardinals may have started their own Legion of Boom with Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson and Deone Bucannon. Forcing fumbles and racking up 15 interceptions in his college career, the Cardinals are building one of the toughest defenses in the NFL with the addition of Bucannon.
Bruce Arians was determined to find a blocking tight end, and the search ended when the Cardinals drafted Troy Niklas. Once a linebacker, Niklas was able to convert his size and athleticism into a role on the offense. He is a great target for Carson Palmer, and he will be able to help prevent his quarterback from being sacked with his athleticism and size. He won't be a household name, but he is exactly the Health Miller-type player Arians wants.
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