Cardinals insiders Bob McManaman and Katherine Fitzgerald breakdown the team’s draft picks and how these players can come in and help the Cardinals.
How did the Arizona Cardinals fare in the 2021 NFL draft?
NFL draft grades for the Steve Keim’s picks in the draft are out and they have some very different opinions on Arizona’s class.
Some writers are overall very positive about the Cardinals’ selections, while some others are not.
Check out what some NFL writers are saying about the team’s 2021 NFL draft class.
NFL.com: Cardinals land a B+
Chad Reuter writes: “The Cardinals found a playmaking linebacker at No. 16. Collins’ career track could be similar to that of Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowler Anthony Barr. The team could have selected a cornerback in the first round because of its need there, however. The dynamic Moore was picked in the second round despite his small stature and injury history, matching their projected pick in my seven-round mock draft — so that selection wasn’t a surprise. They traded their third-round pick for former Raiders center Rodney Hudson earlier this offseason, which was a smart move. Wilson’s athleticism and NFL genes (his brother, Quincy, was a second-round pick of the Colts in 2017) helped make him an early Day 3 pick despite his uneven play and mental mistakes at Florida. Giving up a 2022 fourth-rounder to move up for Wilson hurt Arizona’s grade. Gowan was a smart pick in the sixth round because he played like a fourth-rounder and the team could use as many corners as it can get.”
Nate Davis writes: “Imposing LB Zaven Collins (Round 1) – he might be a better NFL fit than 2020’s No. 8 pick, Isaiah Simmons – diminutive but explosive WR Rondale Moore (Round 2) and the acquisition of Pro Bowl C Rodney Hudson for a third-rounder seem like a pretty good way to invest your top three selections. However waiting until Saturday to get corner help might come back to haunt them.”
CBS Sports: Cardinals receive a B
Pete Prisco writes: “Their first two picks will both make an immediate impact. Zaven Collins will start at the Mike linebacker, while Moore will be their slot player. They didn’t have a third- or fourth-round pick because of the trades to help land receiver Deandre Hopkins and center Rodney Hudson. This team helped itself in a big way this offseason.”
Danny Kelly writes: “The Cardinals made one of the most intriguing picks of the first round when they grabbed Collins at no. 16. The former Tulsa star combines throwback size?he reportedly weighed 270 pounds at combine medical checks?with a new-school skill set, as he has the ability to cover and rush the passer. He’ll man the middle of Arizona’s defense alongside the team’s top 2020 draft pick, Isaiah Simmons, giving the Cardinals what could be the most versatile linebacker duo in the NFL. In the second round, Arizona took Moore, who will provide quarterback Kyler Murray with another electric pass-catching target. Given that Moore stands just 5-foot-7, my big question is whether he can be a field-stretching deep threat?something this offense desperately needs?or whether he’ll be more of a gadget player who’s used on screens and sweeps near the line of scrimmage. After missing most of the past two seasons to injury, Moore also needs to prove that he can stay healthy.”
It writes: “A true physical throwback, Zaven Collins is 6-foot-5 and weighed in at 270 pounds in Indianapolis during medical checks. Despite that 1990s size, Collins had the highest PFF career coverage grade (93.6) of any linebacker in the draft class and continues the trend of Arizona drafting athletic and versatile players on defense. He allows them to implement some very interesting-looking defensive fronts in 2021.”
It writes: Arizona desperately wanted to address its cornerback weakness, but the right players never fell to them. Both Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn were the primary targets at No. 16, but they were long gone by then. Tyson Campbell was preferred in the second round, but he didn’t come close to Arizona’s pick either. Thus, the Cardinals had to “settle” for Zaven Collins, a versatile and athletic linebacker, and Rondale Moore, an intriguing mismatch weapon. The Cardinals eventually found some defensive backs in the fourth and seventh rounds, but the secondary will continue to be a position of weakness, which will hurt in a division comprised of Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford and eventually Trey Lance. That said, the Cardinals were able to acquire some talented prospects to help in other areas. Collins certainly fills a need, while edge rusher Victor Dimukeje was a sleeper edge rusher in the sixth frame. It’s safe to say that the Cardinals are disappointed that none of its coveted cornerbacks fell to them, so this was an underwhelming draft from that perspective. However, the overall haul was not a bad one, as only one of their selections scored worse than a “B” grade.”
Eric Edholm writes: “There was a run on corners between the Cardinals’ first- and second-round picks, so the draft didn’t fall into place as far as addressing that need. Collins is easy to like in a lot of respects, and his surprising athleticism and versatility can be put to good use alongside Isaiah Simmons. Even so, that felt like a luxury choice. This class didn’t offend us the way some of their division rivals’ did, but it wasn’t one of our favorites, either.”
Conor Orr writes: “The Cardinals came into this draft with limited ammunition and an attractive spot in the middle of the first round where many evaluators believed the talent level was about to drop off. It seemed that first-round pick Zaven Collins was the object of their affection from moment one, despite some more potentially attractive opportunities to upgrade their offense. Collins gives the Cardinals the flexibility to unleash last year’s first-round pick, Isaiah Simmons, and helps them bolster the pass rush. The Cardinals, like other teams, seemed to have taken a cue from Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers this offseason and are strengthening their off-ball linebackers to help guard against the myriad ways teams can pick on a defensive scheme. Adding Rondale Moore in the second round goes a short way toward mitigating the noticeably minor offensive upgrades Arizona made during the offseason. The Cardinals now have DeAndre Hopkins, an end-of-career A.J. Green and a sea of options in the slot, including Andy Isabella, whom they impulsively chose in the same round two years prior and has received just 48 targets since.”
Vinnie Iyer writes: “The Cardinals tend to be on a roller-coaster drafting with GM Steve Keim. Consider this a dip year. Edge pass rusher and cornerback were the biggest needs and put on the backburner early and Arizona didn’t address the interior offensive line until the last pick. Collins was a redundant first-rounder to 2020’s Isaiah Simmons and Moore was a superfluous luxury pick for a team with plenty at wide receiver, even with Larry Fitzgerald mulling over retirement.”
Dalton Miller writes: “The Cardinals only had two picks inside the first three rounds. They chose to use their second one on a wide receiver instead of cornerback, where they struggle to field starting-caliber players. They threw darts at Marco Wilson and Tay Gowan there on Day 3 and also drafted James Wiggins late at safety, but with the names available to them in Round 2, it was curious to see them go offense.”
Luke Easterling writes: “Zaven Collins felt like a bit of a reach at No. 16 overall, and it gives the Cardinals back-to-back first-round picks spent on defenders with no clear-cut position fit at the next level. Rondale Moore will be fun to watch in this offense, but he was a luxury pick when there were talented prospects at bigger positions of need. Marco Wilson went a couple of rounds too early, but a couple of late-round bargains (Victor Dimukeje, James Wiggins) keeps this grade from the basement.”