Each season an Arizona Cardinals roster receives an influx of young talent from the collegiate ranks. Depending on the current makeup and standing of a team, those youngsters are expected to step in and take over or learn behind a veteran. The 2017 crop of rookies are no different. Part of the growth process is the players spreading their wings and gaining valuable experience. Today we look back at the Cardinals 2017 draft and how each player performed.
R1, P13: Haason Reddick, ILB, Temple
The Temple product played all over the field in college and was a playmaker. In his first season in the NFL, Reddick struggled to consistently produce, starting just three games all season. Reddick played well against the run and rushed the passer at an above average clip. He finished with 2.5 sacks on the season. Where Reddick struggled was in pass coverage. Like many rookie linebackers, it took time for Reddick to familiarize himself with different assignments and the athleticism of receivers coming out of the backfield. Reddick was able to finish strong and looks poised to take leaps forward next season.
R2, P36: Budda Baker, S, Washington
Baker may have been the gem of the draft for the Cardinals. The former Huskies player was not even the most hearelded secondary member coming out of the pacific northwest. However, he quickly made an impact on the field. Baker started out as a special teams star, flying around the field and making plays. He then found himself in nickle situations on defense where his ability to cover running backs and play the run was valuable for the unit. Baker’s play earned the rookie a Pro Bowl nod as a special teams player. With fellow safety Tyrann Mathieu set to see a significant pay increase, the Cardinals may choose to go with the younger Baker.
R3, P98: Chad Williams, WR, Grambling
Williams was drafted to be a weapon opposite of Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals viewed the Grambling product as the missing piece in the passing game, a talent that would instantly raise the overall level at the position. However, the rookie struggled to get on the field and only played in six games. Williams was targeted just seven times, catching three, for 31 yards. Williams will need the offseason to work on his strength and ability to get off the line.
R4, P115: Dorian Johnson, G, Pittsburgh
The guard out of Pitt, Johnson was among the final cuts by the Cardinals. He spent time on the practice squad before being picked up by the Texans. After being released by Houston, Johnson found his way to the Panthers practice squad.
Flashes of the Future
R5, P157: Will Holden, OT, Vanderbilt
Tackle Will Holden saw significant playing time for a fifth round rookie. Holden played tackle at Vandy but moved inside to guard for the Cardinals. The rookie played in eight games, starting five, after the team lost guard Mike Iupati and tackle Jared Veldheer to injured reserve. Holden played well enough to warrant a serious look as a starter in 2018.
R5, P179: T.J. Logan, RB, North Carolina
Logan was a productive back out of college and seemed poised to have a major role in 2017. The rookie acclimated himself to the return teams as a threat before dislocating his wrist in the preseason. Logan was placed on injured reserve and did not return.
R6, P208, Rudy Ford, S, Auburn
Ford primarily played on the special teams units for the Cardinals in 2017. The rookie safety landed on injured reserve due to a knee issue.
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UDFA, Ricky Seals-Jones , TE, Texas A&M
Seals-Jones was an undrafted free agent. The rookie started on the practice squad, then activated to the main roster after injuries at the position. Seals-Jones played in 10 games, making 12 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns. The rookie made a splash on the road against the Texans, a homecoming as he is from the Houston area, with two scores. He followed that up with his third touchdown a week later.
At the end of the day the draft is more luck than science. The Cardinals found some players on both sides of the ball who can contribute for years to come. For any organization that is as good as it gets. The future is bright in the desert and these baby Cardinals are ready to fly.
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