Arizona Cardinals NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2021

The Arizona Cardinals have what they believe to be a franchise quarterback. They have a legitimate WR1. They’ve drafted a bunch of hybrid defenders over the years and could do so again with the 16th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, depending on who they prefer. Kliff Kingsbury and Steve Keim must make some big strides in a tough NFC West if they want to hang around much longer. What picks do the Cardinals make in the 2021 NFL Draft, and what are their grades?

Cardinals draft picks in 2021

  • 16th Overall Selection (R1-P16): Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
  • 49th Overall Selection (R2-P17): Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
  • 136th Overall Selection (R5-P31): Marco Wilson, CB, Florida
  • 210th Overall Selection (R6-P26): Victor Dimukeje, EDGE, Duke
  • 223rd Overall Selection (R6-P39): Tay Gowan, CB, Central Florida
  • 243rd Overall Selection (R7-P16): James Wiggins, S, Cincinnati 
  • 247th Overall Selection (R7-P20, from Chicago): Michal Menet, OC, Penn State

Who did the Cardinals draft on Day 1?

With the 16th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cardinals selected Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins.

Arizona Cardinals grades for 2021 NFL Draft

Collins recently weighed in at 270 pounds, which is simply too big to realistically move adequately enough to be an off-ball linebacker at the NFL level.

Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

If he slims down to a more desirable weight, he could easily be one of the more fun off-ball linebackers in the league. Collins is instinctive in coverage and takes the ball away at a high level. He’s a solid tackler. However, Collins must become more cerebral at the next level and become a better playmaker downhill.

That said, his frame is reminiscent of an EDGE, and he rushes the passer well, so he is a bit of a tweener. That makes things interesting, given the Cardinals’ propensity to draft those types of players and then use them incorrectly at the NFL level. Hopefully, they figured out what they’ve done wrong in the past and learned from it.

Grade: C

Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

Rondale Moore might outpace Jaylen Waddle in his ability with the ball in his hands. Moore is a miniature receiver, but he’s got great contact balance and is a blur as a runner. He might be the most explosive athlete in the draft class. However, the Cardinals are bare at cornerback, and they don’t pick again until 160. It is tough to justify taking another receiver. 

Grade: D+

Marco Wilson, CB, Florida

Marco Wilson is a great athlete that comes with the hope of upside, and the memory of a very poorly-timed shoe toss that cost Florida a win. He must sharpen his technical ability to become a starter, but the physical ability is there and he fills a need.

Grade: C+

Victor Dimukeje, EDGE, Duke

Victor Dimukeje is a short-framed, long wingspan pass rusher who lacks the first-step explosiveness to be a consistent threat to the outside shoulder of offensive tackles. He projects as a player with a decent floor in the NFL given his technique, but low ceiling because of his lack of juice.

Grade: B

Tay Gowan, CB, UCF

The Arizona Cardinals understood after their first two days of picks that they needed to throw darts at the secondary. Gowan has the requisite frame and ball skills, but he’s inexperienced overall and needs technical refinement to make the team. 

Grade: B-

James Wiggins, S, Cincinnati

James Wiggins definitely deserved consideration before this selection based on his 2018 tape, but after an ACL injury in 2019 and just average tape in 2020, he fell late in Round 7. The Cardinals needed to address the secondary after ignoring it with their first two picks, so going defensive back heavy on day three was prudent. 

Grade: B+

Michal Menet, OC, Penn State

The Cardinals acquired Rodney Hudson in the offseason, but having Michal Menet fall to them in Round 7 is an outstanding value. Menet is a technically proficient blocker who could bring immediate value as the backup center should Huson go down to injury. 

Grade: A-

Arizona Cardinals Overall Grade: C

The Cardinals only had two picks inside the first three rounds. They chose to use their second one on a wide receiver instead of cornerback, where they struggle to field starting-caliber players. They threw darts at Marco Wilson and Tay Gowan there on Day 3 and also drafted James Wiggins late at safety, but with the names available to them in Round 2, it was curious to see them go offense.

Team needs for Arizona coming into the NFL Draft

The Cardinals do need help at cornerback, but it’s unlikely that Jaycee Horn or Patrick Surtain II fall to them at 16th overall.

Cornerback

The Cardinals need a ton of help at cornerback after the departure of Patrick Peterson. A trio of Malcolm Butler, Byron Murphy, and Robert Alford doesn’t inspire much confidence. It’ll be interesting to see if they value any cornerbacks after Surtain and Horn high enough to draft one with the 16th overall pick. However, they should have good options available with the 16th overall pick.

Wide Receiver

A.J. Green is not the answer. He graded out as one of the most disappointing wide receivers in 2020. Christian Kirk has been serviceable and Andy Isabella is fast, but DeAndre Hopkins needs a true complement. It’ll be interesting to see what type of receiver Kingsbury prefers if he takes one.

Offensive Tackle

The Cardinals need offensive tackle help, despite the love they’ve shown toward Kelvin Beachum. Beachum is not the long-term answer at the position. He’s 31-years-old and replaceable in the grand scheme. Taking a high-upside offensive tackle to groom underneath Beachum is a good idea, even with Josh Jones waiting in the wings.

Running Back

They signed James Conner in free agency, but that does nothing to ease the need at the position. There are great options on Day 2 at the position, depending on who is still on the board.

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Dalton Miller is the Lead NFL Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can read more of his work here and follow him @daltonbmiller on Twitter and Twitch

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