2015 Draft in Review: Arizona Cardinals

A look through the 2015 Draft picks for the Arizona Cardinals.

| 1 year ago

2015 Draft in Review: Arizona Cardinals

cardinals-humphriesThe NFL draft is over and it suddenly seems like a long time to wait for the next meaningful event on the NFL calendar. But frankly we’re still excited trying to break down what it all means for each team and so we’re going to share some of that excitement.

That’s right every team is going to have each pick broken down as well as a look at their undrafted free agents. Next up we’re looking to the NFC West, where the Arizona Cardinals are looking to improve on 2014, where they made it to the postseason only to lose in the wild card round.

Round 1: D.J. Humphries, T, Florida

Grade: C-

The Cardinals took a risk with this pick, with Humphries failing to set the world alight either in pass protection or as a run blocker in 2014. Allowing nine total pressures from 228 pass blocking snaps, he had the 45th-ranked Pass Blocking Efficiency in this draft class as 96.7.

Depth Chart Fit: Right now he’ll likely compete with Bobby Massie to start at right tackle, but may ultimately be the replacement for Jared Veldheer on the left.

Round 2: Markus Golden, ED, Missouri

Grade: A-

As big as a gamble as their first round pick was, Golden was a nice value selection in the second round. A very productive player at Missouri, despite being overshadowed by Shane Ray, at least in terms of hype generated. With 61 total pressured from 402 pass rushing snaps, his Pass Rushing Productivity of 12.1 was the seventh-best mark among 4-3 defensive ends in this class.

Depth Chart Fit: He should immediately compete for playing time on the edge, but in the very least should contribute as a situational pass rusher in Year 1.

Round 3: David Johnson, HB, Northern Iowa

Grade: N/A

While the Cardinals were looking for a running back, they appear to have found someone similar to Andre Ellington as opposed to a complement to him. Much better as a receiver than a runner, he forced four missed tackles from 11 receptions, and just five missed tackles from 41 carries. His standout performance came against Iowa, where he racked up 203 receiving yards on five receptions.

Depth Chart Fit: Will compete with Ellington and Stepfan Taylor for snaps at running back.

Round 4: Rodney Gunter, DI, Delaware State

With just one game against FBS opposition there wasn’t much to see from Gunter, with just 14 snaps against the Temple Owls where he had a very slight negative grade.

Depth Chart Fit: Will have to battle for playing time on the defensive front, with plenty of players competing for snaps.

Round 5: Shaq Riddick, ED, West Virginia

489 snaps in 2014 saw Riddick flash at points and disappoint at others. His 6.8 Pass Rushing Productivity Rating was 17th in the class, a result of the up and down nature of his performances for the Mountaineers last season.

Depth Chart Fit: Likely to be limited to being used as a situational player in 2015.

Round 5: JJ Nelson, WR, UAB

Struggled as a receiver but that’s not likely why they drafted him. Nelson led the nation with four touchdowns on kickoff returns, averaging 37.5 yards on the 22 returns he attempted. Also averaging 11.2 yards per punt return, he can be an impact player for the Cardinals on special teams.

Depth Chart Fit: If he’s as good a returner as he was in college, there’s no reason he shouldn’t start the season as the Cardinals primary kick returner.

Round 7: Gerald Christian, TE, Louisville

cff-value-badgeA good all round player, who graded positively as a receiver and as a blocker, he’s a favorite of PFF’s Khaled Elsayed. Our ninth-highest graded run blocker, he at least figures to have an NFL future as a blocking tight end, and was an underrated receiver.

Depth Chart Fit: With John Carlson retiring, Christian has a shot to be the team’s No. 2 tight end to start the year.

The Undrafted


Andrae Kirk, FAU, LB: Had the fourth-highest coverage grade of any linebacker in this class.

cff-value-badgeGabe Martin, Bowling Green, LB: The gem of the Cardinals UDFA class, he had the sixth-highest run defense grade of all linebackers in this draft class.

Edwin Jackson, LB, Georgia Southern: 710 snaps for the Eagles, with a small positive grade against the run.

C.J. Roberts, CB, Colorado State-Pueblo: Zero snaps against FBS opposition in 2014.

Trevor Harman, WR, Shippensburgh: Zero snaps against FBS opposition in 2014.

Damon Powell, WR, Iowa: Four drops from 23 catchable passes in 2014.

Jaxson Shipley, WR, Texas : Played 689 snaps in his final season at Texas.

Cariel Brooks, CB, Adams State: Zero snaps against FBS opposition for Brooks.

Alani Fua, ED, BYU: 611 snaps and a small positive grade against the run for the BYU edge defender.

Zack Wagenmann, ED, Montana: Just one game against FBS opposition for Wagenmann, with two sacks, three hits, two hurries and a batted pass againsy Wyoming.

Gannon Sinclair, TE, Missouri State: Just one game against FBS opposition for Sinclair, where he graded positively as a run blocker.

Paul Lasike, HB, BYU: 719 snaps from the player from Aukland, New Zealand he graded positively as a runner and a run blocker.

Xavier Williams, DI, Northern Iowa: 162 snaps against FBS opposition for the defensive tackle.

Rob Crisp, T, North Carolina State: 913 Snaps for the Wolfpack offensive tackle, he graded positively as a pass blocker.


Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon


| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Bill Doerr

    Steve Keim is known for hitting grand slams drafting small school players no one has ever heard of like last years 3rd round pick lighting fast excellent crisp route runner WR John Brown, who was on pace for over 1,000+ receiving yards as a ROOKIE until starting QB Carson Palmer went down and still managed 49 receptions, a 15.5 YD/AVG per reception and 5TDs…. Setting a NFL record as a rookie for most game winning TDs in a season with 4. He is on pace becoming an elite WR , Great pick. This year they added 5″10 1/2 165PD WR JJ Nelson out of UAB in the 5th round who runs a BLAZING FAST 4.25 40 yard dash time. He has elite world class track speed like John Brown does. They are getting Nelson into a NFL weight room & high carb diet to get 15 pounds or so of muscle put on Nelson the right way by August/September. Nelson is coming in as a Kick Off & Punt Returner to start but right now is AZs #5WR, he can absolutely rip the top off of a defense and throw it away. Once Nelson gets the offense down, AZ plans to pair up WR John Brown & WR JJ Nelson w/ their world class speed on the field at the same time. They could be absolutely lethal together. Not to mention outside of those two Arizona has elite 6″3 225 WR Larry Fitzgerald, Elite 6″3 220pd physical outside WR Michael Floyd who is Blazing Fast for his size with 4.45 40 capabilities & they also have 6″3 210 pound WR Jaron Brown ( Not John B) who runs a 4.39-4.41 40 going into his third year out of Clemson. He was over looked a bit @ Clemson playing behind S. Watkins and D. Hopkins but this kid is a ABSOLUTE BEAST w/ elite athleticism, hands & speed . He is by far good enough to be a #2WR who can put up 1,000K yard seasons and on lesser teams would be a #2WR, AZ is just stacked n loaded with WR’S. He is really good and Arians plans on him catching 50-60 receptions getting him more targets.

    DE Rodney Gunter was actually a really good pick. 11 teams worked him out and all 11 planned on drafting him in round 4. Arizona took him where they did & traded up because another teams was getting ready to take him, and that was confirmed when that teams GM called AZ’s GM Keim kinda pissed giving Keim crap for stealing Gunter away.

    Arizona’s defensive line coach Brenston Buckner went out back east to work Gunter out , and GM Steve Keim said when he came back , Buckner was foaming at the mouth over this kid raving about his potential saying he has never seen a 6″5 308 pound with the kinda of elite athleticism . size , arm length , and moves as easily as Gunter who has the feet of a 225 pound man. Buckner worked Gunter out for 2 hours HARD trying to break him and could not. Gunter is 6″5 1/2 ,35 3/4 inch long arms , 308 pounds , elite power and strength putting up 45 reps of 225 when Buckner worked him out , 40 inch vertical leap , the man is just an elite athlete. The story behind Gunter is in High School as the oldest son he worked 2 jobs to help his single mother with Bills, so he only played HS Football his senior year , that’s it He went to an almost unheard of College at Delaware State & was just under scouted. Once our D-Line coach saw him live & then GM Steve Keim saw the video of , they were just blown away to find this kid. Had he went to a bigger college no doubt Rodney Gunter would of been a 1st round pick. He is a BEAST & an elite Athlete, a steal of a pick in round 4. Gunter projects in the NFL to play All 3 down Lineman positions. He will play opposite Calais Campbell as a 3-4 DE , and will rush the passer from the NT position on 3rd downs at times as well. This guy was an absolue steal , NFL Fans are most definitely going to know who DE Rodney Gunter is real , real soon here.

    I don’t know how this idiot who wrote the article can give 1st round 24th overall pick DJ Humphries a C. NFL dot com gave LT A. Peat & DJ Humphries the exact same draft profile grade , both tied as the best pure future LT prospects in the NFL but MANY in the scouting world think DJ Humphries is by far the better prospect , including both Daniel Jeremiah & Charles Davis who think is an elite talent who will develop into a top 5 Elite NFL LT, as well as Todd McShay and Mike Mayock. He dominated some of the best pass rushers that were just drafted, he gave up a sack to Shane Ray yea (every OT gets beat at some point, its the nature of the position) but Hump won that battle in the game , dominating Ray the majority of the game even rag dolling him at times like when he threw Ray to the group on a play. Hump absolutely D-O-M-I-N-A-T-E-D Bud Dupree when they faced off , Dupree got manhandled all game and sent home sore n pissed off. Hump absolutely dominated in the Carolina and LSU game , shutting their pass rushers down completely as well. Hump is a elite talent. That was playing light to , at like 280-285 pounds , Hump started working with some of the best trainers in the country pre-draft, changed his diet and work out schedule, and went from 26% 290 pounds , to now down to 15% body fat at 307 pounds at the combine. He now is 310 and this is around the weight, 310-312 , he will maintain and play at.

    At 6″5 1/2 inch’s tall w/ 34inch long arms, 10in hands & 310 pounds with the feet of a ballerina , Hump is a elite OT prospect , but he is a elite athlete at OT. He reminds me a lot of & is very similar to the Cowboys LT Tyron Smith as both are Elite Athletes. Hump also has a Nasty Side to him which u want in offensive linemen , he will bring it to you. Arizona has an elite top 10 LT in Jared Veldheer so Hump is most definitely going to start out at RT, Which short term is MUCH BETTER for Hump. Humphries should have NO PROBLEM beating out RT Bobby Massie , who is barely even an AVG RT. I don’t expect Humphries to move to the LT spot for 2-3 years until Hump is clearly an elite top 5 tackle. Veldheer is young with a lot of time left himself , they wont get rid of Veld they will just simply slide him to RT when Veldheer hits around 30 and Hump is 23-24 in 3 years or so. Arizona now has one of if not the best offensive line in the NFL w/ elite LT J. Veldheer, elite 2X All-Pro 3X Pro Bowler LG Mike Iupati , PFF ranked Center AQ Shipley the 14th best of 41 last year & is a huge upgrade over an aged Sendlein , at RG 2013 7th overall #1st RD pick RG J. Cooper is an elite OG talent & FINALLY over his surgically repaired broken leg injury & still has massive potential, and then you have 1st round pick elite OT talent DJ Humphries at RT who not only excels in pass protection but is even better run blocking. That is 4 Elite High 1st round quality talents , more talent than on the Cowboys line. That is going to be a NASTY RUN BLOCKING OL.

    Arizona’s run game behind that E-L-I-T-E Offensive Line is going to be VASTLY better this season. They shouldn’t have any problem putting a TOP 10 Running game with the Running-Backs they have behind this offensive line. 3rd Pick RB David Johnson was an ABSOLUTE STEAL!!!!! At 6″2 225 pounds RB D. Johnson was the top performer at the combine among RBs in almost every measurable test starting with the 40 (4.50 40, Pro Day 4.43) , most reps of 225 on the bench (25) , top performer in the vertical jump (41.5 in vertical), Top performer in broad jump (127.0) , top performer among 3 cone (6.72) which shows the ease he can get separation with in the passing game. Ranked as a 2nd to 3rd prospect David Johnson always showed up for big games , in the season opener he had 203 receiving yards/2TDs VS Iowa ST, in 2013 Johnson had 23 carries for 200 rushing YDs 2 rushing TDs, 2 rec for 45YDs n 2 rec TDs. In 2014 though He carried the ball 287 times, for 1,553 yards w/17 TDs including, with 38 receptions for 538 receiving yards & 4TDs. Selected first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference in both 2013 and 2014 and became first player in school history with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Selected third-team FCS All-American in 2014 while breaking 15 school records. Johnson is a beast a projects as 1,000RB in the NFL…..!!!!!!
    Arians now has two RBs who excel in the passing game and can run routes. Arians said he has never seen anyone who can do what Ellington can until he saw RB David Johnson. With both of the RBs having blazing speed , Arians can real creative setting up mismatchs in the receiving game. 5″10 1/2 210 RB Andre Ellington is now back to 100% full health & will be the lead back this year and then now AZ has added a power RB at 6″1 225 who can run people over but also has elite speed in D. Johnson. Behind Arizona’s elite offensive line Arizona will have no problem opening up MASSIVE HOLES , Especially behind Elite LT Jared Veldheer & Elite LG Mike Iupati !!!!!! Not to mention a run game wont only help protect the QB but also open up the downfield passing game , Arizona’s offense is extremely LETHAL going into this season.

    • jeffy1951

      Great to have you as a Cardinal fan Bill – you are always enthusiastic and willing to explain your reasoning with long, detailed posts. I can tell by your writing style that you get somewhat excited writing your opinions of Cardinals players. A team can never have too many fans with your devotion! Thank you.

    • Tim Edell

      According to you this is the greatest draft since the Bears got Butkus and Sayers. Being a fan is one thing being a homer is another