Pick by Pick Analysis of Day Two of the NFL Draft
The players, the schemes, the fits, the decisions
Day two of the draft, as the cliché goes, is when a team really builds out its roster. And this year’s did not disappoint. I’m not going to write about every player and scheme fit in quite as much detail as the first round – which if you missed, you can find here – otherwise we’d all be here until Seattle goes underwater (there will be time for further analysis over the course of the offseason). But here are some thoughts on the players, fits, and decisions made on day two.
R2, P23: Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
R3, P23: Cameron Thomas, DL, San Diego State
R3, P36: Myjai Sanders, Edge, Cincinnati
The Cardinals offseason moves have been generally puzzling. They spent free agency bringing back an offensive corps (sans Christian Kirk) for a players-not-players style of (frankly arrogant) offense that has too often dropped off in the second half of the season as opposing teams figure out their tendencies and tells.
Throughout free agency, they did little to address a flagging defense, one that has lost its top-two pass-rushers in consecutive years. On Friday, they sat to work trying to address both concerns.
Myjai Sanders is a long, effort rusher. He’s not someone who will beat a tackle out of his stance, but he plays with violent hands, enough thud to hang in the run game (keeping him on the field) and knows how to use his length to his advantage. At his best, he profiles as a looper in stunt-heavy systems, dragging from out to in where he can clamp his hand on an a shorter guard, negating some of his get-off concerns.
Picking up Cam Thomas in the second round is the ideal fit for a defense that appears to prize flexibility – both in terms of formations and individual positions – above all else. What position does Thomas play? Who knows? Who cares! Thomas dominated everywhere that he lined up for Dan Diego State, and crushed the power-five competition he did face. At his best, he’s probably someone who rushes from the interior, but he lacks the mass to play inside on an every down – he would struggle to hold up versus the run. Thomas profiles as a player the Cards can use as part of a pass-rush rotation or they hope for the best on early downs before sliding him inside in obvious pass-rushing situations.
Adding McBride is an intriguing one. The Cardinals already have a well-stocked tight end room. But picking up McBride means one of two things: Kliff Kingsbury and co. aren’t overly interested in evolving their offense but understand that within that set-up they’re in dire need of a fresh injection of talent; or Kingsbury and co. are looking to evolve the offense, continuing to build in more 12 and 13 personnel packages, perhaps with the added bonus (if they’re feeling frisky) of, dare I say it, moving players across the formation. Could it be? *sarcasm intended*
McBride is the most dominant ‘receiver-type’ of this year’s group of tight ends. At Colorado State, he essentially functioned as a receiver, running a full route tree from out on the perimeter and when aligned in the slot. He was the focal point of the offense, and still put-up gaudy numbers, even as defenses deployed as many resources as possible to try to slow him down. He has the vintage frame for a modern tight end: Enough speed to outpace linebackers; the size to box out safeties.
In many ways, he kind of, sort of resembles a slightly lanky-sized Dallas Goedert coming out of school: Everything is about north-south speed, getting up the field, and burning lesser athletes. There’s little sideline-to-sideline wiggle to his game, and little in the way of effective blocking. Any team drafting McBride would have been bringing him in to function as an auxiliary receiver. That makes perfect sense in Arizona, but will also bring some fresh looks to an offense in desperate need of some sense of new-ness.
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