1 (7) - Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina; 2 (45) - Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU; 3 (69) - Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU; 4 (103) - Alex Okafor, DE, Texas; 4 (116) - Earl Watford, OG, James Madison; 5 (140) - Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford; 5 (174) - Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M; 6 (187) - Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson; 7 (219) - D.C. Jefferson, TE, Rutgers
Top Picks Analysis: New general manager Steve Keim altered his draft plan when the team acquired quarterback Carson Palmer from the Raiders. Rebuilding perhaps the worst offensive line in football was the priority, and the Cards had their choice of the two best guards available and went with UNC's Cooper and his athleticism over Alabama's Chance Warmack. In the second round Keim got some insurance for Darryl Washington, who will be suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season, at inside linebacker in LSU's Minter, a two- down thumper who could get exposed down the seam in the passing game due to a lack of height. Mathieu has a lot of potential to be a dynamic slot defender and returner but comes with a ton of baggage.
Best Value Pick: Taylor lacks long speed but has terrific vision as well as natural running instincts rarely seen. He is the most polished running back in this year's draft and could be this year's version of Alfred Morris if given a chance.
Questionable Calls: Obviously you are taking a chance with Mathieu. Athletically, he shapes up as an excellent slot corner and a possible impact return guy but he's failed at least 10 drug tests and needed to be babysat in the months leading up to the draft.
Summary: Keim did an excellent job, patching up the interior of his porous offensive line with Cooper and Watford, while addressing his running woes with Taylor and Ellington. Okafor and Swope were also good value picks. If Mathieu hits, this draft could be a home run.
FINAL GRADE: A
Undrafted rookie free agent signings: Clemson WR Jaron Brown; Arizona WR Dan Buckner; Colorado State OT Joe Caprioglio; Cincinnati DE Dan Giordano; Oklahoma DB Javon Harris; Wyoming LB Korey James; Oklahoma S Tony Jefferson; Louisiana Lafayette WR Javone Lawson; California OT Matt Summers-Gavin; Tennessee CB/S Prentiss Waggner; San Jose State DB Ronnie Yell