Addressing the losses in the secondary was the number one priority for the Cardinals and the signing of veteran safety Antoine Bethea was the first step. Jack-of-all-trades, Budda Baker, has the talent to help plug any holes in the back end. Arizona wanted Baker enough to send the Bears the 45th, 119th, and 197th picks in 2017 and the 2018 4th round pick in exchange for the 36th and 221st picks in 2017. Haason Reddick has been receiving first team reps with Deone Bucannon on the shelf with an ankle injury. The number 13 overall pick is getting work on the inside as a linebacker after making his name as an edge pass rusher at Temple. Reddick will be asked to learn a new position with unfamiliar terminology in a new defensive scheme. Budda Baker was impressive in rookie mini-camp showing off his instincts and ball skills. The versatile corner/safety was targeted by the Birds and they traded up from 45 to 36 overall to secure the former Huskie. Safety was a need after the losses of Tony Jefferson and DJ Swearinger in free agency. The Cards like versatile athletes and Baker will be counted on to contribute in base and sub packages. He has experience at nickel corner, corner, and safety and is an explosive edge blitzer. Did not fully participate until June 11th due to the NFL’s graduation rule. Chad Williams was drafted because of his size, speed, and good hands (9 ¾”). Pro day numbers: 6004, 207, 4.46/40, 21/BP, 35.5/VJ, 10-3/BJ, 4.25/SS, and 7.09/3 cone. Williams caught 90 passes his senior year at Grambling after being suspended the first game of the year due to firearm and marijuana charges. The charges were dropped, but he was not invited to the Combine. He uses his size well at the catch point. A raw receiver who made some solid catches in mini-camp but must learn to run routes and create separation. Looks like a major reach but only time will tell. Dorian Johnson dropped in the draft due to a medical condition related to his liver known as primary sclerosing cholangitis. He knew about the condition and takes medication twice a day to manage it. Must also stay away from alcohol and certain medications like Tylenol. The Birds project Johnson as a starter at right guard after his three year stretch playing left guard for the Panthers. He played in a pro style offense and lined up in a three point stance. A knee bender with an explosive presence. Will Holden was targeted because of his size, smarts, and position flexibility. Started 37 straight games for the Commodores and plays with balance and good body control. At the East-West Shrine practices he demonstrated his natural bend and the ability to play both guard and tackle. The Cards believe Holden has the skill set to become an eventual starter once he gets stronger and upgrades his pass protection technique. TJ Logan has impressed with his hands and 4.39 speed in OTAs and projects to take over kickoff return duties. Logan will be battling for a backup spot behind David Johnson. He was second in the country averaging 32.8 yards per return, returning two for scores. Johnathan Ford, the versatile defensive back, has experience at free safety, corner, and nickel corner. He has the size that will help match up with receivers in sub packages. With his 4.39 speed he will also have a good shot at competing for the right corner position opposite Patrick Peterson. Has demonstrated good ball skills and gets to the catch point of a receiver with his hands. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.
FREE AGENCY: With the loss of two veteran safeties, the Cardinals’ big ticket signee was Antoine Bethea, a 32-year old veteran who came over from division foe San Francisco. The 49ers also supplied Phil Dawson, the ageless and accurate placekicker, and quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Linebacker Jarvis Jones was added for depth as were Jumal Rolle (CB) and Tony Bergstrom (OC). Frostee Rucker (DT) and Andre Ellington (RB) were re-signed.
NOTABLE UNDRAFTED COLLEGE FREE AGENTS: Trevor Knight (Texas A&M) QB, Jonathan McLaughlin (Virginia Tech) OT, Ricky Seals-Jones (Texas A&M) TE, and Sojourn Shelton (Wisconsin) CB.