NFL draft class rankings: Arizona Cardinals 'crush' 2021 NFL draft selections

Jeremy Cluff
Arizona Republic
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The Arizona Cardinals absolutely "crushed" the 2021 NFL draft, according to one writer, who ranked the team's selections last week second in the league.

Yes, CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson had the Cardinals' picks at No. 2 in his ranking of every NFL's team's draft class.

His favorite pick for the team? The first-round selection of Tulsa's Zaven Collins.

Wilson wrote: "Tulsa's Zaven Collins was an easy selection -- for us and the Cardinals. We had him as a mid-first-rounder based on what he did last season and the most pressing question now is where will he play? He's up to 270 pounds, which is a load for an off-ball linebacker but he has the athleticism and versatility to move around a defense that already has Isaiah Simmons. This is going to be fun."

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His best value pick for Arizona? UCF CB Tay Gowan, who the team took in the sixth round.

Wilson wrote: "UCF CB Tay Gowan  opted out last season but we liked what we saw in 2019. He's long, athletic, runs well and is physical at the catch point. He does need to add weight, but we had him as a late fourth-rounder."

The most surprising pick for the Cardinals? Second-round pick Rondale Moore, a wide receiver out of Purdue.

Wilson explained: "Purdue's Rondale Moore is only "surprising" here because two years ago the Cardinals used a second-round pick on Andy Isabella, who comes in the same small package and does many of the same things Moore does on the field. That aside, we love this pick and had Moore with a late first-round grade."

Only the New England Patriots were ahead of the Cardinals in Wilson's ranking, which was made by comparing where each draft pick was graded with where they were selected.

The Denver Broncos came in at No. 3 and the headline to Wilson's story said that the Patriots, Cardinals and Broncos "crushed" the draft.

Wilson wasn't as high on the other NFC West team's draft classes, with the Los Angeles Rams ranked No. 32 in the league, the San Francisco 49ers at No. 23 and the Seattle Seahawks at No. 12.

More:Arizona Cardinals 2022 NFL mock draft: Team addresses cornerback, offensive line needs

One NFL writer is very impressed with what the Arizona Cardinals did in the 2021 NFL draft. How impressed? He ranked the team's draft class No. 2 in the NFL.

Some other NFL draft class rankings weren't quite as high on Arizona's picks …

For the Win's Charles McDonald and Steven Ruiz had the team's class at No. 10.

They wrote: "The Cardinals just went straight playmaking with their first two picks of the draft. Zaven Collins will bring versatility to their front seven with his ability to win in the box, on the edge, and in coverage. Rondale Moore is lightning quick with the ball in his hands and a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. Tay Gowan was a nice upside bet at cornerback."

The Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer had Arizona's picks all the way at No. 27.

He wrote: "The Cardinals tend to be on a roller-coaster drafting with GM Steve Keim. Consider this a dip year. Edge pass rusher and cornerback were the biggest needs and put on the backburner early and Arizona didn’t address the interior offensive line until the last pick. Collins was a redundant first-rounder to 2020’s Isaiah Simmons and Moore was a superfluous luxury pick for a team with plenty at wide receiver, even with Larry Fitzgerald mulling over retirement."

Pro Football Network gave five teams a C+ grade or worse, with the Cardinals among them.

It did, however, hand the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams worse grades than the Cardinals.

More:2022 NFL mock draft: Spencer Rattler, Tyler Shough, Kedon Slovis make history for Arizona?

NFL draft grades

The Cardinals' draft class landed grades ranging from B+ to C- from NFL writers.'s Chad Reuter handed out the B+ to Arizona.

He wrote: "The Cardinals found a playmaking linebacker at No. 16. Collins’ career track could be similar to that of Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowler Anthony Barr. The team could have selected a cornerback in the first round because of its need there, however. The dynamic Moore was picked in the second round despite his small stature and injury history, matching their projected pick in my seven-round mock draft -- so that selection wasn’t a surprise. They traded their third-round pick for former Raiders center Rodney Hudson earlier this offseason, which was a smart move. Wilson’s athleticism and NFL genes (his brother, Quincy, was a second-round pick of the Colts in 2017) helped make him an early Day 3 pick despite his uneven play and mental mistakes at Florida. Giving up a 2022 fourth-rounder to move up for Wilson hurt Arizona’s grade. Gowan was a smart pick in the sixth round because he played like a fourth-rounder and the team could use as many corners as it can get."

Draft Wire's Luke Easterling handed the Cardinals the C-.

He wrote: "Zaven Collins felt like a bit of a reach at No. 16 overall, and it gives the Cardinals back-to-back first-round picks spent on defenders with no clear-cut position fit at the next level. Rondale Moore will be fun to watch in this offense, but he was a luxury pick when there were talented prospects at bigger positions of need. Marco Wilson went a couple of rounds too early,  but a couple of late-round bargains (Victor Dimukeje, James Wiggins) keeps this grade from the basement."

Click here for more NFL draft grades and reaction to the Arizona Cardinals' selections in the 2021 NFL draft.

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