The Cardinals have officially signed three draft picks, locking up first-round defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche and a pair of fifth-rounders – Midwestern State safety Marqui Christian and Harvard offensive tackle Cole Toner – the team announced (Twitter link).
Nkemdiche is obviously the most notable player of the trio, having earned a first-team all-SEC selection and second-team All-America honors at Ole Miss last season. The 21-year-old is one of two major pass-rushing additions the Cardinals have made this offseason, joining trade acquisition Chandler Jones. Nkemdiche’s draft stock fell because of past off-field transgressions, enabling the Cardinals to snag him at No. 29. If those issues are behind him, Nkemdiche should help boost a Cardinals defense that finished just 20th in the NFL in sacks last season.
Nkemdiche’s four-year rookie deal will be worth upward of $8.6MM, including more than $4.45MM in guarantees, according to data from Over the Cap. As a first-rounder, his contract will also include a fifth-year option, though its worth won’t be known until 2019.
With Nkemdiche, Christian and Toner now under contract, the Cardinals have nearly half of their draft class signed. Four remaining draftees – including third-round cornerback Brandon Williams – still have to ink deals.
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