A look back at last year’s NFL Draft for the Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury watches his team play against the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter of the NFC Wild Card playoff game.Nfc Wild Card Playoff Cardinals Vs Rams
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury watches his team play against the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter of the NFC Wild Card playoff game.Nfc Wild Card Playoff Cardinals Vs Rams /

The Arizona Cardinals for a moment in 2021 looked to be the best team in the NFL.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals did not stay atop the NFL standings very long. Last year they came into the draft with a decent set of picks and a plan on what to do. Let’s take a look at how it turned out.

With the 2021 season for the Arizona Cardinals behind us we can take a look back at not only the season but how their 2021 NFL Draft panned out. There was some scrutiny about their first overall pick in Zaven Collins, LB out of Tulsa. Not only did it seem like an odd fit at the time, but they had also drafted a similar player the year before in Isaiah Simmons.

Both of them were projected to be a hybrid safety-linebacker combo when they were selected.

The Cardinals drafts have been up and down under Steve Keim over the last couple of years, hitting on a few such as; Kyler Murray, Isaiah Simmons, Rondale Moore, and Budda Baker.

But, there are more than a handful of top-90 picks the Cardinals blew it on as well, looking at you Josh Rosen, Mason Cole, and Andy Isabella. Their struggles to actually draft an offensive lineman who lives up to their potential continue. Hopefully, the 2022 NFL Draft is where it stops, for Kyler’s sake.

Here is the list of the 2021 picks for the red birds and how they did:

1st round- Zaven Collins, LB
Collins had six starts playing in all 17 games tallying three pass break-ups, 25 total tackles, and one tackle for loss.

2nd round- Rondale More, WR
Moore had seven starts in 14 games with 54 catches on 64 targets for 435 yards and one touchdown. Adding an additional 76 rushing yards on 18 carries.

Moore might end up not only being the best pick of the Cardinals class; but when we look back in several years one of the best picks in the draft in general.

4th round- Marco Wilson, CB
He totaled 13 starts in 14 games, with four pass breakups, two forced fumbles, 48 tackles, and one tackle for loss.

6th round- Victor Dimukeje, DE
While he played in 14 games, he recorded just three tackles and one QB hit.

6th round- Tay Gowan, CB
Traded with a fifth-round pick to the Eagles for Zach Ertz in October. He did not play a down for the Arizona Cardinals.

7th round- James Wiggins, S
Three games no stats, ended on injured reserve.

7th round- Michal Menet, C
Cut before the season started. Yes, he was a seventh-round pick, but once again an OL drafted by the Cardinals didn’t work out.

How do we grade this out?

At face value, this draft looks like a flop, but Moore is a bright spot on this team and will continue to carve out a role. Marco Wilson looks to have a solid slot next year and helped soften the blow of losing Patrick Peterson the long-time Cardinal mainstay. Gowan did decent for the Eagles, but Ertz was well worth it.

The most concerning part here is Collins and if he will turn into Simmons, or if he was another first-round bust. Arizona went with his exciting play style and metrics, having the ability to be moved around. However, we must wait a little longer to see if he blossoms into another hybrid star, or if he is yet another disappointment.

The Cardinals need to hope he comes on strong as Simmons did in his second year. As Simmons finished the year with over 100 total tackles, seven pass breakups, and four forced fumbles. Simmons’ first year was very similar to what Collins put up this year as a rookie. If the Cardinals can get Collins to make that jump in 2022 they won’t have an issue at LB or in the nickel formation moving forward.

There are some concerns with the Cardinals front-seven right now having Chandler Jones on FA, and JJ Watt still can’t stay healthy.

If they can’t get that front seven locked down and these two tweener type players cant make up for the pressure, or be as active as they need to be in the passing game. It could spell disaster moving forward for the Cardinals when it comes to pass defense, let alone rushing defense as there could be holes for days.

Next. Bengals draft status and out look for the 2022 NFL Draft. dark

I would look Rondale Moore to take another jump next year and be much more involved in the passing game, getting bigger, stronger, and smarter in this Kliff Kingsbury offense. Moore is poised to be the next big WR in Arizona. While Christian Kirk has his own value, Moore has a much higher upside and versatility. They could also look to add to that group once again this year.

Overall one year later this NFL Draft class looks much more like a C- than it did the original B/B- range.