2020 NFL Draft: Arizona Cardinals preview

Arizona Cardinals capsule

TEAM DRAFT NEEDS

Safety

Budda Baker
Budda Baker. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals have 2019 fifth-round pick Deionte Thompson but little else behind starters Jalen Thompson and Budda Baker. In a division featuring the 49ers’ George Kittle, the Rams’ tandem of Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett and a rotation of pass-catching threats in Seattle, the Cardinals need safeties who can cover tight ends.

Right tackle
Marcus Gilbert re-signed after missing last season with a knee injury. Justin Murray started 12 games last season but a long-term fix would help.

Offensive guard
The Cardinals will again rely on the veteran duo of 29-year-old Justin Pugh and 31-year-old J.R. Sweezy, who both started every game for Arizona in 2019. Sweezy is entering the final year of his contract. Expect the team to use the draft to increase depth.

Defensive end
The Cardinals signed Devon Kennard to bulk up the pass rush in tandem with Chandler Jones. However, depth is light. Zach Allen played in four games as a third-round rookie in 2019.

Tight end
Charles Clay hit free agency after leading Cardinals tight ends with 18 catches in 2019. Often-injured Maxx Williams played in 16 games for the first time, catching a modest 15 passes with one TD, but will be expected to take over the starting job in 2020. Dan Arnold showed some promise as a red-zone threat with two touchdown catches in three games.

Quarterback
The QBs on the roster behind Kyler Murray are Brett Hundley, Drew Anderson and former CFL dual threat Chris Streveler. While Hundley has started nine NFL games, he is 3-6 in that role. QB is a low priority for Arizona, but the Cardinals could compare what’s left QB-wise at the end of the draft to whom they have in their stable of backups.

FIVE-YEAR DRAFT HISTORY

Christian Kirk
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been awfully lean for general manager Steve Keim, whose best picks are probably Markus Golden (left last spring via free agency) and David Johnson, whose All-Pro 2016 campaign is now a distant memory. Second-rounders Budda Baker (2017) and Christian Kirk (2018) look like hits, but the 2016 and 2017 drafts were almost entirely disasters.

Likewise, Josh Rosen was set up for failure, which led the team to pass on Nick Bosa and take Kyler Murray. If Murray comes anywhere near his ceiling, it might all work out, but the rest of the 2019 class must develop as well. The Cardinals still haven’t found answers along the offensive line.

Best pick: RB David Johnson, R3 2015 — Before injury and ineffectiveness struck, Johnson was a rare playmaker. Of course, the Cardinals lucked into him after missing out on Ameer Abdullah.

Worst pick: DT Robert Nkemdiche, R1 2016 — Despite red flags in college, Nkemdiche got the call from the Cardinals but delivered little through two seasons. After flashes in 2018, he tore his ACL and struggled with conditioning.

2019 STATISTICS

  • TOTAL OFFENSE: 341.7 (21st)
  • RUSHING: 124.4 (10th)
  • PASSING: 217.3 (24th)
  • TOTAL DEFENSE: 402.0 (32nd)
  • RUSHING: 120.1 (24th)
  • PASSING: 281.9 (31st)

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)