Arizona Cardinals 2013 NFL Draft Review

Jonathan Cooper

At press time, Jonathan Cooper holds the distinction of being the only unsigned Cardinal. Cooper fills a huge inside need to protect Carson Palmer. Cooper will help anchor the middle to give Palmer the ability to step into his throws. The former Tar Heel is athletic and has an impressive skill set to pass protect, change direction, and redirect with natural body control. He can read and adjust to his target when pulling on the perimeter. Kevin Minter was the first of two linebackers drafted. He will compete with free agent pick-up Jasper Brinkley at the right inside linebacker position. He has excellent instincts, lateral quickness, and plays with a good effort and a desire to get to the ball. Minter possesses the tools to contribute on Sundays including quick feet, agility, vision, and good change of direction. He should be a top core special teams’ player. Tyrann Mathieu has made the move from corner to free safety. Free safety makes sense with his high level instincts and ball skills. The toughest thing for Mathieu to master in OTAs is his voice, yelling out coverages and checks. He is also getting work at the nickel corner position. The former Tiger has impressed the coaching staff with his ability to learn quickly. Special teams’ coverage and returns are also in his future. Alex Okafor was a steal in the fourth round and will compete with free agent Lorenzo Alexander at left outside linebacker. He has the talent to contribute early in his career with his ability to disengage quickly and sprint to the ball. Earl Watford is another athletic, zone-blocking guard similar to Cooper. A knee bender with long arms, he pulls well and can adjust in space. Stepfan Taylor missed some OTAs because of the NFL graduation rule, but he is the most durable running back on the Birds’ roster. Free agent Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams have injury histories. Taylor is a perfect fit for Bruce Arian’s downhill play action attack. Because of past concussion problems, Ryan Swope lasted until the sixth round. He was the fasted receiver at the Combine with a 4.34 time. A multi-alignment receiver, he runs good routes and is especially dangerous from the slot. Andre Ellington is a third down back with explosive speed. He is very elusive with good body control and balance. He will contribute as a kickoff return specialist after the loss of LaRod Stephens- Howling in free agency. Tight end DC Jefferson has a chance to be a difference maker in Arian’s offense like Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen did in Indianapolis last year. Rob Housler is coming back off an injury to open the door for Jefferson. GRADE: GOOD.

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