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3 big takeaways from the Cardinals' 2017 NFL Draft selections

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Posted at 8:20 PM, Apr 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-30 07:52:20-04

The 2017 NFL Draft is in the books, and most experts have given the Arizona Cardinals positive marks for their seven selections. 

But how well did general manager Steve Keim, coach Bruce Arians and the Cards really do with their selections? Here are three big takeaways. 

1. Some picks could play right away.

The Cardinals know their window for winning a Super Bowl is closing fast, and this year's draft selections reflect that, as they picked a number of players who could become starters this season.

The team's first two picks, linebacker Haason Reddick and safety Budda Baker, could see playing time for the Cardinals as soon as Week 1, partly because they both play positions of need for the Cardinals and partly because, well, they're just extremely talented.

Guard Dorian Johnson is better than his fourth-round selection suggests, but some teams passed on him due to concerns about his liver. But if he can avoid health problems, he could play right away, too.

Wide receiver Chad Williams, whom the Cardinals took in the third round, is a bit of a wildcard. He has a ton of talent but played for a small school (although fellow third-round pick John Brown did, too) and has had some off-field troubles. If he's as good as Arians and Keim seem to think he is, he may see some early playing time, as well.

2. Versatility.

On Thursday night, Arians reiterated his love for "2-for-1 players," i.e. guys who can play, and play well, at multiple positions. 

The Cardinals got two of those guys in Rounds 1 and 2, as Reddick and Baker can both be placed at various positions in different defensive sets. Reddick played outside linebacker throughout college but will likely be moved to inside linebacker in Arizona, while Baker is capable of playing both the strong safety and free safety position.

Even the Cardinals' sixth-round pick, safety Rudy Ford, can also play the cornerback position, where he played during the beginning of his collegiate career -- and it sounds like the Cardinals intend to move him back to that position If he can play there well, it would be huge for the Cardinals, who desperately need a second player at that position who's capable of being an effective starter in the NFL.

3. Still big holes to fill.

It's unrealistic to expect any NFL team to plug all the holes in its roster in a single draft. Still, while the Cardinals addressed multiple areas of need, there remains two in particular that went unfulfilled during this year's draft.

The first is at cornerback. Yes, there's a chance Ford could become a starter if the team decides to convert him to cornerback, but the Cards passed on the chance to take a Pro Bowl-caliber CB who can start opposite Patrick Peterson in Rounds 1 or 2. If they don't sign a veteran player before the season begins, the Cards will have to take their chances with Ford, second-year pro Brandon Williams, 2016 sixth-round pick Harlan Miller or special-teams star Justin Bethel. 

The second position, obviously, is quarterback. Most fans and experts assumed the Cards would take a QB in the first two rounds, or at least find a potential diamond in the rough in a later round. Instead, the team once again passed on the opportunity to find Carson Palmer's heir apparent. Considering this could be Palmer's final NFL season, this decision could put the team in a precarious position heading into 2018.