The Arizona Cardinals' 2018 draft made its reputation on Day 1 with the selection of a player who the team hopes will become the long-sought franchise quarterback of years to come.
If the Cardinals got no one in this draft besides Josh Rosen Y.A. Tittle Jersey , fans would have called it a rousing success.
And offense turned out to be the theme. Only one of the six players drafted by the Cardinals plays defense, even though their new coach Steve Wilks was defensive coordinator last year at Carolina.
The choices were simply a function of the names on the Arizona draft board, general manager Steve Keim said.
"In a perfect world, coach and I would have been thrilled to have balance and to fill some positions defensively if those guys warranted those picks," Keim said. "But we had such high grades on those offensive players, we didn't want to stray away from the board."
In the second round, Arizona went with homegrown wide receiver Christian Kirk from Texas A&M in the second round.
The Cardinals picked center Mason Cole out of Michigan in the third round and, with their first choice Saturday dipped into the FCS ranks to grab running back Chase Edmonds of Fordham.
It marked only the second time in the draft's modern era (which began in 1967) that the Cardinals have used their first four picks on the offense. The other was in 1993.
Finally, in the sixth round, Arizona went defense, grabbing cornerback Chris Campbell of Penn State. The Cardinals' final pick came third to last in the seventh and final round when they selected offensive tackle Korey Cunningham of Cincinnati.
But this draft was, first and foremost, about that long-awaited young quarterback for Arizona.
When Carson Palmer retired at the end of last season, there were no QBs on the roster. Now they have Sam Bradford, Mike Glennon and Rosen, who will begin his new job in earnest at the rookie minicamp in two weeks.
HOME SWEET HOME
No Arizona draftee could have been happier than Kirk, who grew up in the Phoenix area, starring at Saguaro High in Scottsdale before choosing Texas A&M over staying home at Arizona State. Now he's coming home and keeps describing the situation as "surreal."
Kirk said he got to know star receiver Larry Fitzgerald when he played on the same Pop Warner team as Kurt Warner's son. Warner would sometimes bring Fitzgerald along to games and they struck up a friendship.
"I think I was probably in the fourth grade at the time Albert Wilson Jersey , third or fourth grade, and every time they came out, it was just so crazy," Kirk said.
Kirk will use his old No. 13. That was the Hall of Famer Warner's number, too.
"Exactly, I have to rock it well," Kirk said. "I have a lot to live up to."
Keim said that as he evolves through his fifth year on the job, he's paying more attention than ever to off-the-field character and the player's love of the game as he assesses who should be selected. He noted all but Campbell in this year's class were team captains.
The idea was to go with "strong character guys" that match what Wilks calls his team's DNA.
"I've almost promised myself that we would take guys, even if they're a little less talented, but they have that makeup," Keim said. "... Especially in our first draft together, we wanted to make a statement."
Almost every year, the Cardinals dip into the talent at the FCS level, or lower.
This year it was Edmonds, the all-time leading rusher in the Patriot League for yards and touchdowns who could be in a crowded competition for a backup spot behind 2016 All-Pro David Johnson, as well as a kick and punt returner.
"I'm just looking forward to whatever role Arizona asks me," he said. "Whether it's being a special teams player, being a third-down back Kai Forbath Jersey , on the slot, something like that. I'm looking forward to it."
Keim called Edmonds' production "off the charts" and said he would have set the FCS career rushing record had he not been injured during his senior season.
Some prior Arizona draftees from the FCS ranks or lower include Johnson, taken in the third round out of Northern Iowa in 2015; wide receiver John Brown, selected in third round out of Pittsburg State (Kan.) in 2014; and cornerback/special teams player Justin Bethel, picked in the sixth round out of Presbyterian in 2012.
Oh, and quarterback John Skelton out of Fordham in the fifth round in 2010. He's no longer around.
Look for defensive players to be signed as undrafted free agents, as well as maybe some late veteran signings. Arizona still needs to find a cornerback to play opposite Patrick Peterson and is looking for depth at linebacker as the team transitions from a 3-4 base formation to a 4-3. The Cardinals also could use some depth at tight end.
The Minnesota Vikings picked offensive tackle Brian O'Neill from Pittsburgh in the second round of the NFL draft Friday night, adding a mobile yet raw player to help with the critical task of protecting prize offseason acquisition Kirk Cousins.
"I know if I can get the coaches this type of athlete, they can develop those guys," said Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, who used the 62nd overall selection on the 6-foot-6, 305-pound O'Neill before trading the team's third-round pick, No. 94, to net an extra selection for Saturday.
O'Neill played left tackle for the Panthers as a junior in 2017 and was a first team All-ACC honoree. He spent the previous two seasons at right tackle after joining the program as a tight end. O'Neill ran the 40-yard dash in 4.82 seconds at the combine, the fastest time by an offensive lineman.
"You watch this guy get out and pull, and it's unbelievable how fast he moves," Vikings director of college scouting Jamaal Stephenson said.
If the Vikings feel confident enough that O'Neill is ready to start, he could take over at right tackle with Mike Remmers making a permanent move to one of the guard spots. Remmers was signed last year as a tackle Patrick Willis Jersey , but injuries prompted him to shift inside late in the season and in the playoffs. O'Neill left college a year early, though, so the Vikings have essentially taken on the task of continuing to develop him.
"He's got to get stronger. That's one of his weaknesses at this point, but we feel we can easily get that corrected," Stephenson said.
If Remmers stays at tackle for now, Danny Isidora, a fifth-round draft pick last year, will become a strong candidate to start at right guard in the retired Joe Berger's place. Nick Easton started at left guard for most of last season before breaking his ankle.
O'Neill was a high school basketball star in Wilmington, Delaware. His father, Brendan O'Neill, played running back at Dartmouth. His mother, Elizabeth O'Neill, was a swimmer at Northeastern.
"I think I'm able to handle speed off the edge very well," O'Neill said. "I think that's something that's one of my strong suits, being able to protect the edge. Obviously with the new quarterback in town, Kirk Cousins, that's a big deal. Protecting him is my most important job now, and it's a job I take very seriously."
The run on interior linemen accelerated from the first day of the NFL draft Jim Kelly Jersey , with three guards going in the first five picks of the second round. The Browns led off with Nevada guard Austin Corbett, the Giants took UTEP guard Will Hernandez and the Colts grabbed Auburn guard Braden Smith. The Bears went with Iowa center James Daniels, who could play guard, with the seventh pick of the night, 39th overall. Another guard was taken off the board when the Cowboys picked Texas guard Connor Williams at No. 50 overall.
"I've never seen that many offensive guards go this high in the draft," Stephenson said.
The last time the Vikings took an offensive lineman in the first three rounds in consecutive years was 2005 and 2006, when they took Marcus Johnson from Mississippi and Ryan Cook from New Mexico in the second round of those drafts. The Vikings drafted center Pat Elflein out of Ohio State in the third round last year.
Like cornerback, where the Vikings looked in the first round for Central Florida's Mike Hughes , a team can never have enough quality offensive linemen. The dearth of them has been their biggest downfall in recent seasons, a deficiency badly exposed in the 38-7 loss at Philadelphia in the NFC championship game.
Hughes found some off-the-field trouble as a freshman at North Carolina in 2015 with his home-state school, which led to a nomadic college career with a stop at Garden City Community College in Kansas before landing at UCF once fall camp had already begun. He quickly integrated himself with the team and picked up the defense, making a strong impression on head coach Scott Frost.
"I think he's the type of player that's going to thrive up there," Frost said on a conference call with Minnesota reporters. "Mike's not just a cover corner, he's a guy that will come up and hit. He'll really embrace being around a bunch of other guys that play with that kind of attitude."
He's only 5-foot-10, but this high school quarterback has used his physical size as a psychological advantage.
"I don't want to get the ball caught on me," Hughes said. "I hate having the ball caught on me, even in practice. I just like competing."
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