NFL analysts grade out Cardinals 2015 draft picks

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Now that the dust has settled after three days of madness at the 2015 NFL Draft, NFL experts took time to weight in on the Arizona Cardinals’ seven selections – D.J. Humphries, Markus Golden, David Johnson, Rodney Gunter, Shaq Riddick, J.J. Nelson and Gerald Christian.

Pete Prisco: – “2015 NFL Draft Grades: Jags, Dolphins, Ravens, Cardinals score highest”

Arizona Cardinals: Grade: A

Best Pick: I love the pick of running back David Johnson in the third round. He will compete right away to start and gives them a little more toughness in the backfield.

Third-day gem: Fifth-round pick Shaquille Riddick, a defensive end from West Virginia, will move to a 3-4 rush player in their scheme. He has same explosiveness off the edge that could help.

Analysis: They wanted to get a top-level offensive lineman, and they did that by drafting D.J. Humphries in the first round. Golden was a little high, but he has talent. I love the pick of Johnson. Another good haul.

Todd McShay: – “2015 NFL Draft: McShay identifies favorite draft picks by team”

Round 3 (86): David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa

First-round pick D.J. Humphries is an outstanding athlete at left tackle; he just needs to get stronger against power rushers. Second-rounder Markus Golden is a bit of a tweener at defensive end/outside linebacker, but he plays with a relentless motor. I’ll go with Johnson here. The Cardinals needed a running back, and at this point in the third round there were many potential impact guys remaining. Johnson doesn’t play as big as you’d expect for his size, but his pass-catching ability makes up for it. Northern Iowa used him as a de facto receiver at times.

Peter Schrager: – “NFL Draft Grades: Arizona Cardinals”

Arizona Cardinals: Grade: B+

I like what they do because Steve Keim and their front office there in Arizona, they don’t care where guys went to college. They got John Brown last year out of Pittsburg State in the third round and the rest of the league was scratching their heads. So what do they do? They go get David Johnson from Northern Iowa. They trade up to get Rodney Gunter out of Delaware State, a defensive tackle that no one has ever heard of, no one, but they must see something in him. Then they get Shaq Riddick out of West Virginia who did all his damage at Gardner-Webb. So they don’t care what we think. They don’t care where these guys played. They find a way, and last year Steve Keim won NFL Executive of the Year. I am not going to question these guys.

Bryan Fischer: – 2015 NFL Draft: Final quick-snap grades for NFC West teams

Day 1 grade: A+

Day 2 grade: A-

Day 3 grade: A-

Overall grade: A

The skinny: NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah is one of many who believe Humphries is the best offensive tackle in the draft. At pick No. 24, he’s an absolute steal for the Cardinals, especially considering they didn’t have to trade up to get him. Humphries will fill an area of need and help the recovering Carson Palmer breathe a bit easier by keeping pass rushers at bay. Golden has great upside and might wind up having a better career than his former teammates at Missouri, such Broncos‘ first-round pick Shane Ray. Johnson is a perfect fit for Bruce Arians and can fill the big-back role; he’s also a top-notch threat as a pass catcher. Nelson teams with John Brown to form the fastest tandem in the league.

Bottom line: The Cardinals added a lot of high upside players who can contribute in defined roles for a team that is really close to a Super Bowl run.

Vinnie Iyer: Sporting News – “Grading the 2015 NFL Draft early…and on a curve”


CardinalsGrade: A

The picks: T D.J. Humphries, DE/OLB Markus Golden, RB David Johnson, DT Rodney Gunter, DE/OLB Shaquille Riddick, WR J.J. Nelson, TE Gerald Christian

Steve Keim and Bruce Arians know what they need to do. Humphries matched value for need in front of Carson Palmer, while Golden, Gunter and Riddick replenish the depth outside and inside of the front seven. They also landed a hammer of a back they really needed in Johnson, the best small-school prospect on the board.

Rob Rang: – “NFC West team grades: Cardinals closing the gap”

Arizona Cardinals: Grade: B+

Surrendering the division only after Carson Palmer tore his ACL, the Cardinals attempted to protect the heavy investment in the 35-year-old quarterback with the addition of D.J. Humphries, who some scouts feel will eventually prove the best tackle from this class. The Cardinals reinforced coach Bruce Arians’ aggressive offense with a powerfully and surprisingly athletic back in David Johnson, who offers excellent hands out of the backfield, as well as speedster J.J. Nelson, who was clocked at a combine-best 4.21 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Tough guy Markus Golden boosts Arizona’s edge rushing, though long-armed Shaq Riddick could ultimately prove the better player with further development.

Doug Farrar: – “NFL draft grades”

Arizona Cardinals: Grade: B

The Cardinals started their draft with a bit of a round 1 steal in Florida offensive tackle D.J. Humphries, who may have gone a lot higher than the 24th pick had it not been for some injury concerns. Humphries has a great combination of strength and athleticism. Missouri end Markus Golden was lost in all the Shane Ray hype, but he’s a hard-working, productive player who can steal a lot of snaps as an all-around defender as opposed to a pure pass rusher. Arizona needed power in its backfield to complement Andre Ellington, and it may now have it in the person of Northern Iowa’s David Johnson, a 6’1″, 224-pound thumper who can also catch the ball out of the backfield. West Virginia’s Shaquille Riddick is a tweener pass rusher with some potential.

Nate Davis: USA Today – First impressions of 2015 NFL draft ranked 1-32”

First Impressions: Like it

  1. Arizona Cardinals

First rounder D.J. Humphries could be the draft’s top left tackle, though he might force an O-line shuffle. Second-round OLB Markus Golden helps a pass rush that managed just 35 sacks in 2014. But keep an eye on third-round RB David Johnson of Northern Iowa, who’s big (6-1, 224) with great hands and could carry most of the mail while allowing Andre Ellington to do more with fewer touches in a specialty role.

Ross Jones: – “2015 NFL draft grades”

Arizona Cardinals: Grade: B+

Forget about adding college superstars, GM Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians want players who can sustain success in the league. A year after stealing Pittsburg State’s John Brown, Arizona picked up Northern Iowa RB David Johnson in the third round and traded up in the fourth to get Delaware State’s Rodney Gunter. Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound back, is a power runner who can catch balls out of the backfield. To make this draft even better, Arizona strengthened its offensive line by selecting the best left tackle in the class in Florida’s D.J. Humphries. Second-round pick Markus Golden, who started opposite Shane Ray at Missouri, has drawn comparisons to a young LaMarr Woodley.

Tyler Schalter: – “2015 NFL Draft Grades: Reports Cards for All 32 GMs”

Arizona Cardinals: Grade: B+

The Arizona Cardinals have needed to rebuild the offensive line for years on end, and they’ve been trying to since the moment head coach Bruce Arians took over. Taking a tackle this low in the first round usually means rolling the dice, but the presence of left tackle Jared Veldheer and free-agent addition of guard Mike Iupati means Humphries should be able to step in on the right.

Golden isn’t a flashy player, but he fits in perfectly with the Cardinals’ lunch-bucket defense. Riddick fits the profile too. David Johnson stuck out in the evaluation cycle as a small-school back with old-school size and should add a missing between-the-tackles rushing element.

Terez Paylor: Kansas City Star – “Grading the teams in the NFL Draft”

Arizona Cardinals: Grade: B-

Nice draft for the Cardinals, who addressed needs at offensive tackle, edge rusher and running back at the top of the draft. Humphries only played at around 290 pounds last year, but has excellent feet and athleticism. Golden’s passion for football will help him see the field in some capacity, while Johnson is a big back with receiving skills with the ceiling of a starter. Gunter and Riddick are developmental linemen while Nelson, perhaps the best returner in the draft, can become an immediate contributor on special teams.


Charley Casserly and Andrew Siciliano: NFL Network

Casserly: “D.J. Humphries in the first round. They needed a tackle and they got a tackle there. I think that is a big help for them. Later in the draft they picked up a return guy that is dynamic in J.J. Nelson. So you have two guys there that jumped out to me. And David Johnson, Northern Iowa. A zone running guy, this is a 1,000-yard guy in the NFL. They got a tackle, and then this J.J.  Nelson, boy this guy will be fun to watch. Explosive speed as a return man and as a wide receiver. They can run deep and (the Cardinals) can throw long passes – Carson Palmer, you know he can do it. John Brown proved it.”

Siciliano: “Loved that David Johnson pick by the way. Both Mike Mayock and Daniel Jeremiah will tell you. He has got wide receiver hands, played big in big games against Iowa, who didn’t recruit him. David Johnson is a steal there, definitely, for Steve Keim.”

ESPN Analyst Mel Kiper Talking About J.J. Nelson:

Kiper: “He is a burner. Rare speed and rare return ability. As a punt returner he was outstanding and as a kick returner he was dynamic. He had four kick return touchdowns this last season and he had a 97-yard return against Troy in 2013. When he gets into the open field, he is going, gone, gone, gone. When you do that as much as he did, that is being really great at what you do. In the return game, J.J. Nelson is special.”

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah on the Dan Patrick Show: The Drafts Best Values

Jeremiah: “D.J. Humphries, who I think is going to emerge as the best left tackle in this draft. The Cardinals, tackle was a need for them and they get him at number 24.”


Adam Schein: – “Raiders, Browns highlight first-round takeaways”

I love the NFL draft.

And so do Ravens fans, who always know that Ozzie Newsome will make the ideal selection. And he did, yet again, with a speed-burning wideout to replace Torrey Smith in Breshad Perriman. This is the same way Cardinals fans are beginning to feel with the Bruce Arians/Steve Keim regime. Arizona grabbed another solid football player in offensive tackle D.J. Humphries.

That’s the thing about the draft — it really shows an organization’s true colors.

Doug Farrar: – “NFL draft round 1 steals and reaches: Giants lead list of head-scratchers”

Steals: D.J. Humphries, OT, Arizona Cardinals

Of all the tackles in this class, Humphries might just have the most appealing combination of strength and athleticism. He might have been a top-10 player but for the MCL sprains in both knees and ankle injury that befell him during his collegiate career. The 6’5″, 307-pound Humphries is a bit of a risk in that regard, but head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim saw a long, rangy player who moves like a really big tight end at times, and he was too good to pass up with the 24th overall pick. If he stays healthy, Humphries might be the best overall value in the first round.

Chris Burke: – 2015 NFL draft round 1 analysis, grades”

Grade: B

The Cardinals moved aggressively last offseason to land left tackle Jared Veldheer in free agency, but they failed to find a counterpart for him on the other side of the line. Humphries is a little rough around the edges, but NFL teams were enthralled with his upside over the past few months. He’s athletic and plays with an edge, both traits that coach Bruce Arians will appreciate – Veldheer has them. This pick will help Arizona in 2015; it could really pay off a couple years down the road.

Pete Prisco: – “Grades: 2015 NFL Draft Round 1”

Grade: B+

This is a great value in Humphries. This kid will be a better NFL player than he was a college player. The toughest part will be the transition to right tackle.

Bryan Fischer: – “Day 1 quick-snap grades for NFC teams”

Arizona Cardinals

Grade: A+

The skinny: NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah is one of many who believe Humphries is the best offensive tackle in the draft. At pick No. 24, he’s an absolute steal for the Cardinals, especially considering they didn’t have to trade up to get him. Humphries will fill an area of need and help the recovering Carson Palmer breathe a bit easier by keeping pass rushers at bay.

Mark Maske: The Washington Post – “2015 NFL draft grades”

Arizona Cardinals

Grade: B

The two first-round running backs and the best of the pass-rushers were gone by the time the Cardinals picked and they went with D.J. Humphries, who could vie for a starting job at right tackle as a rookie.


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