Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Another day in the books at the 2014 NFL Draft and the Arizona Cardinals have three new rookies hungry to prove themselves.
Taken with the 52nd overall pick, tight end Troy Niklas from the University of Notre Dame was a bit of a surprising selection. While Niklas possesses great height and width (6’6”, 270 pounds), it is rare to see a team take a tight end a round early based purely on his blocking ability.
There is of course no way to project how Niklas will perform once at the professional level, but he does not seem to be the dynamic breed of tight end that has swept the NFL the past few years. His greatest talent is in the blocking game—which while is a great asset—seems like an intriguing choice to take in the second round.
With their third round pick at 84th overall, the Cardinals went exactly where I projected. A big, physical defensive end from a prominent university—unfortunately, not the exact player I projected, as they took Kareem Martin out of the University of North Carolina.
His “intangibles” page on ESPN.com tells you all that you will need to know about him: “Leader. Team captain. Hard worker. Well respected by teammates, coaches. Very good football character.”
When combined with his raw ability that can be molded by a veteran defensive front, Martin seems like he could be a steal as a mid-third round selection. His raw talent is nowhere near the skill set of a Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack, but what he lacks in talent, he seems sure to make up in hustle.
The real surprise of the night for the Cardinals was when they selected John Brown out of Pittsburg State with the 91st overall pick. Interestingly enough, Pittsburg is not the same as Pittsburgh, meaning Brown played his college ball in Kansas, not Pennsylvania.
While Brown apparently possesses blazing speed, he is a bit on the small side, checking in at 5’10”, 179 pounds. (I’m 5’11, 195…although I’m sure he has me beat in a foot race)
The pick was acquired after letting the New Orleans Saints move up in the first round, so by all intents and purposes, it was a free pick. In this situation, taking a gigantic gamble on a player is not exactly the worst position to find yourself in, as he was not anticipated to be around for them anyway.
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As big of a story as who was picked, was who was not picked…a quarterback.
All of the major gunslingers the Cardinals may have had an eye on have been drafted (Derek Carr to the Raiders, Teddy Bridgewater to the Vikings).
This leaves the three SEC quarterbacks who are all similar in style, but vastly different in make-up.
Aaron Murray, A.J. McCarron and Zach Mettenberger have all fallen into day three of the NFL Draft and I would honestly be stunned should the Cardinals not find a way to finagle one of the three young men.