Cardinals look ahead after filling several needs in draft
TEMPE, Ariz. — For a team that wasn’t selecting for need, the Cardinals sure addressed a lot of needs in the 2014 NFL Draft.
They got the strong safety they desperately needed to replace Yeremiah Bell and cover tight ends in Washington State hard-hitter Deone Bucannon.
They got the edge rusher they coveted in North Carolina’s Kareem Martin.
They got the speed receiver coach Bruce Arians wanted in John Brown, who ran the third-fastest 40 time at the NFL Scouting Combine and serves as insurance if Ted Ginn Jr. doesn’t pan out.
They got a quarterback project with immense physical gifts in Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas. Thomas faces no immediate pressure to play, allowing him time to develop and hone his mechanics while learning from Carson Palmer and a coach who has worked with some talented players at that position.
And they added depth along the defensive line and at receiver on the third day with Ed Stinson and Walt Powell.
"That’s the emphasis that you put into building that (draft) board," general manager Steve Keim said. "We say ‘best player available,’ but there is emphasis on who impacts our football team the most. We are never going to leave a good player on the board to the side, but we do want to find guys who are going to impact us the most."
Despite the litany of post-draft grades, only time will tell how the Cardinals performed last weekend in Keim’s second draft as general manager.
"What I love about (our draft class) is I look at all those names and I see guys who are big-time competitors, who love the game and bring an element of toughness to our locker room, which I don’t think you can ever have enough of," Keim said. "I’ve walked out of this building for many years when we got A’s and B’s (for draft grades), and those players didn’t turn out to be good players. You have to trust what you’re doing and trust your board. I trust the people in our room."
The Cardinals’ seven picks did not address all their needs, however. Keim said the team would look to sign three to five rookie free-agent offensive linemen this week and two running backs. That process has already begun, with former Chandler Hamilton and Northern Arizona running back Zach Bauman among those announcing on Twitter on Saturday that he was heading this way.
Baylor offensive tackle Kelvin Palmer also announced on Twitter that he was heading to Arizona.
From Hamilton to NAU to the Arizona Cardinals hometown kid stays home! #BirdGang
— Zach Bauman (@FranchiseBAUMAN) May 10, 2014
The Cardinals did not address the need for help on the right side of their offensive line in the draft. With Palmer in camp as a potential depth option, they may wait to see how the battle between Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie plays out before deciding if they need further help.
Arizona here I come
— Kelvin Palmer (@DaKingRoundHere) May 11, 2014
Last year’s starter, Eric Winston, is still available in free agency and wants to come back, but concerns over his mileage and contract could be hampering talks. Winston will turn 31 in November.
The Cardinals also might add depth at cornerback, where defensive coordinator Todd Bowles believes you can never have enough bodies.
The team will have to wait to see how Daryl Washington’s legal troubles impact his playing status — and evaluate how capable veteran Larry Foote is of filling in as a starter should Washington be suspended again — before they determine if they need another inside linebacker in the wake of Karlos Dansby’s free-agent defection.
Bauman and Palmer were among 15 rookie free agents who have signed with the Cardinals. The complete list includes:
Running backs: Bauman,Northern Arizona; Tim Cornett, UNLV
Wide receivers: Kelsey Pope, Samford; Kevin Smith, Washington; Corey Washington, Newberry
Tackles: Palmer, Baylor; Kadeem Williams, Albany
Guard/center: Anthony Steen, Alabama
Defensive tackles: Bruce Gaston, Purdue, Justin Renfrow, Miami
Linebackers: Jonathan Brown, Illinois, Glenn Carson,Penn State
Cornerbacks: Brandon Sermons, UCLA; Todd Washington, Southeastern Louisiana
Kicker: Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson