Draft Review – Cardinals, Bills

by David Syvertsen

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ARIZONA CARDINALS

Top 3 Needs: OL, QB, S

#7 (1) Johnathan Cooper – G/North Carolina

-Athletic and powerful blocker that can handle size and speed by himself

-Much needed starting caliber lineman that can create running lanes and protect QB

#45 (2) Kevin Minter – LB/LSU

-Downhill run defender that can make an immediate difference inside

-Another solid piece to the puzzle for what could be a top tier defense

#69 (3) Tyrann Mathieu – CB/LSU

-Dynamic playmaker that will make plays no matter where they put him

-Gambling on a top flight defensive back at this point in the draft was a good move

#103 (4) Alex Okafor – DE/Texas

Strong presence at the point of attack with explosive movements in tight spaces

-Versatile asset to a scheme that likes to exploit matchups by moving guys around

#116 (4) Earl Watford – G/James Madison

-Strong presence that controls his assignment from start to finish consistently

-Could be another starter for this rebuilding offensive line within a couple years

#140 (5) Stepfan Taylor – RB/Stanford

-Quick thumper that is effective in between the tackles.  Can handle a lot of carries

-Immediate short yardage back that gives them a sense of stability in the backfield

#174 (6) Ryan Swope – WR/Texas A&M

-Tough receiver underneath that catches well in traffic and can move with the ball

-Quality depth that will work his tail off and end up contributing eventually

#187 (6) Andre Ellington – RB/Clemson

-Shifty, explosive ball carrier that can make people miss.  Catches well.

-Third down back option in a re-built but crowded backfield

#219 (7) DC Jefferson – TE/Rutgers

-Nicely built athlete that wasn’t utilized correctly in college.  Untapped upside.

-Competition for the 3rd tight end spot with upside of becoming a quality backup

What They Did:

Arizona had one of my favorite drafts from start to finish.  They did the right thing by addressing the interior of their offensive line with two guys that could be starting early in their careers.  They also added several other players that will contribute in 2013.  Minter and Mathieu will blend in nicely to the aggressive, turnover-forcing scheme that will allow these guys to play with a controlled reckless aggression.  If Mathieu can be kept out of trouble by Peterson and the support staff, Arizona acquired one of the top defensive backs in this entire class.  Taylor and Ellington will get a shot to play early as well because the game day carries are there for the taking, as they will host an intra-roster competition throughout the preseason.  I gave both of them high grades, as they are capable of making things happen.  The theme of this draft is immediate contribution for a team that was not as bad as their record says they were.

Top Value Pick – Andre Ellington – RB/Clemson (#39 overall player on my board)

UDFA Most Likely to Make Team: Tony Jefferson – S/Oklahoma

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BUFFALO BILLS

Top 3 Needs: WR, G. S

#16 (1) EJ Manuel – QB/Florida State

-Big, athletic leader that win games with his arm and feet

-Marrone gets his QB of the future to groom under Kolb and Jackson

#41 (2) Robert Woods – WR/USC

-Pro ready route runner that catches almost everything thrown near him.  Explosive

-Drafting a player at a position of great need in round 2 that can start is huge

#46 (2) Kiko Alonso – LB/Oregon

-Long, wiry but strong frame flies all over the field and is always around the action

-A weapon against the pass and run from a couple different spots if need be

#78 (3) Marquis Goodwin – WR/Texas

-Elite downfield speed with a track background that translates to the field

-Another young WR to groom and could be forced in to playing time with his speed

#105 (4) Duke Williams – S/Nevada

-Missile from the secondary that can light up a ball carrier

-Blends in well next to Byrd if he can learn how to cover better

#143 (5) Jonathan Meeks – S/Clemson

Do-it-all safety with an intriguing tool set that will need to enhance his skill set

Extra depth and competition for backup positions behind Byrd and Williams

#177 (6) Dustin Hopkins – K/Florida State

-Big leg with enough accuracy to win a job right away

-Has the inside track at winning both jobs of a kicker

#222 (7) Chris Gragg – TE/Arkansas

H-Back type with good ball skills and sneaky explosion up the seam

-Will give the team another option in the passing game. Will be the best athlete at TE

What They Did:

Buffalo was able to trade down 8 spots in the first round and still acquire their top graded QB in Manuel.  He will have an outside shot at winning a starting job because of his experience in a pro system and skill set.  This offense clearly needed more playmaking talents to throw the ball to, and they went for it by selecting the draft’s top possession receiver in Woods and a overlooked speed demon in Goodwin.  I think both can make an impact early on.  The back seven was given a few talented athletes that will add to the blue-collar, physical approach that Pettine will implement in year one of the new regime.

Top Value Pick: Robert Woods –  WR/USC (#11 Overall Player on my board)

UDFA Most Likely to Make Team: Ryan Turnley – C/Pittsburgh

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