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NFL Draft

General Manager Speak: Assessing Cardinals’ 2020 NFL Draft Class

  • The Draft Network
  • May 11, 2020
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All eyes were on the Cardinals prior to the 2019 NFL Draft.

They held the No. 1 pick and opted to select quarterback Kyler Murray, even with Josh Rosen already on the roster having invested the 10th-overall pick on him in 2018. But the decision to draft Murray paid dividends, and he was named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

Arizona is entering the second season of its rebuild under general manager Steve Keim and coach Kliff Kingsbury. The two were still aiming to reshape the roster and create depth in many spots in the 2020 draft. The Cardinals once again had a top-10 pick to continue to stockpile talent. 

In this new series, I will analyze quotes that stuck out the most from executives’ pre- and post-draft press conferences

Question: Adding a player of Isaiah Simmons' caliber. What does he add to your team?

Keim: "In our mind, he’s certainly one of the best players in this draft and to be able to select him at the eighth-overall spot, we feel very fortunate. I can't say enough good things about the player, the person, all the different things that went into our evaluations on him. I really feel like he's an unusual, unique, dynamic player, a guy that does multiple things for you. This is my 22nd draft in the NFL, and I don't know that I've scouted many players like this. I tried to think about different comps to have a guy that's essentially 6-foot-4, 238 pounds. He ran a 4.3-second 40 [yard dash] at the [NFL Scouting] Combine. When you watch him on tape and you see him play the deep middle, the deep half, you see him play in the box, you see him blitz, rush the passer. He's sort of a Swiss Army knife and does it all and we call that kind of a player an eraser in this league.”

Analysis: The Cardinals had boasted one of the league’s worst defenses in 2018; it was important for them to get faster. Keim made heavy investments on that side of the ball during the 2018 draft when he added Byron Murphy, Zach Allen and a host of other pieces. But with aging veterans like Patrick Peterson, it was essential for Arizona to find more pieces. The Cardinals haven't shied away from taking versatile chess pieces in the past. They have previously selected Budda Baker and Haason Reddick, but Simmons possesses a different type of ceiling than his predecessors. 

Simmons has a unique ability to wear all of the hats and responsibilities of a defender; he makes life easier on his supporting cast. If used properly, he can open the scheme for greater impact from players like Chandler Jones, Baker, Reddick, Peterson and Murphy.

Question: How surprising was it to see Josh Jones still available at No. 72?

Keim: “I was shocked. It was certainly not a player that I anticipated seeing at that No. 72 spot. We projected him as a player that could play [right tackle or left tackle]. Whether it is right or left, he is a player that has enough athletic tools to play on the left side yet have some traits that you look for in a right tackle. We certainly had him slotted up there very high. I’ve already gotten a number of texts from head coaches and general managers who are quite shocked that he was there as well."

Analysis: The Cardinals were without a second-round pick after completing a blockbuster trade for star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. They signed D.J. Humphries to a lucrative three-year, $45 million extension and were still in need of a right tackle. Protecting their young signal-caller was obviously high on the team’s offseason checklist.

The Cardinals were out of reach of drafting one of the top four options in Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton and Tristan Wirfs and far from obtaining one of the options in the second tier as well.

After Austin Jackson was selected with the No. 18 pick and others went quickly in the second round, Arizona was praying Jones fell in its lap; he did. Jones is one of the best value picks in the entire draft. The Cardinals remained patient and he somehow lasted until their next draft pick.

For more “General Manager Speak,” see Cincinnati, Miami, and Detroit’s executives discuss their 2020 draft class.

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