I wish Thursday would just get here already. As fun as talking about the NFL Draft is, I am tired of speculation and wish the picks would happen already. That’s what happens when the NFL delays the draft a couple weeks like they did, and if the goal was to up the anticipation, it worked.
For the Arizona Cardinals, this draft is as important as can be. With a 10-6 record last season, the Cardinals did their duty in free agency, addressing a lot of needs and signing a good deal of players.
Now, it’s time to win the draft. There is no better way to make your team better than drafting well – even if the results don’t show up instantly. Last season they did for the Arizona Cardinals, with Andre Ellington and Tryann Mathieu having huge seasons in 2013. A similar draft could put the Cardinals in the playoffs.
With the draft less than two days away, here’s my final seven round mock for the Arizona Cardinals.
Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
While many have Arizona going the Derek Carr route, Bruce Arians has been quite vocal about not taking the quarterback route. Not that his words should be treated as gospel, but with Carson Palmer playing decent football, the need isn’t glaring at the position.
Those two things drive me to believe the Cardinals will focus on the defense. I like Dee Ford as the heir apparent to John Abraham and to give the Cardinals a more prominent pass rushing presence. A defensive end in college, Ford’s speed translates well to the 3-4 outside linebacker spot in Todd Bowles’ system.
Others to consider
Calvin Pryor, Teddy Bridgewater
Calvin Pryor would fill the need at safety if he’s available, though it is very likely he is taken before 20. Also, if the Bridgewater rumors are true and he does indeed fall outside of the top ten, I like the Cardinals picking him up as a value pick.
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Although the three tight ends on the roster can hold down the fort just fine, Arizona could really benefit from some impact at the position. Enter Sefarian-Jenkins, whose blocking and hands are among the best available in the draft. Due to Bruce Arians’ emphasis on the former, Sefarian-Jenkins strikes me as a very good scheme fit, and pretty good value at the 52nd pick.
Others to consider: Zach Mettenberger, Jeremiah Attaochu
If the Cards haven’t already addressed the quarterback need, guys like Zach Mettenberger, Tom Savage and AJ McCarron are also in play with this pick, as well as some of the second-tier pass rush guys. Jeremiah Attaochu from Georgia Tech has been shooting up draft boards and may not fall to 52, but is a good example of what the Cardinals could be looking for with this pick.
Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
Last season, the Arizona Cardinals selected Tyrann Mathieu with their third round selection, really upping the ante on what to expect with this pick. Colorado State center Weston Richburg probably isn’t that same type of guy, but he can step in and be Lyle Sendlein’s backup and eventual replacement. For a team that has had malaise on the offensive line in the past, it is wise to not ignore the unit, and this move is just that.
Others to consider: Donte Moncrief, Deone Bucannon
This wide receiver class is particularly deep, and the Cardinals could be in a position to capitalize on it. A guy like Donte Moncrief from Ole Miss could be available to serve as either a slot guy or a contingency plan should Fitzgerald or Floyd get injured or traded. Deone Buchanon could be a decent pick as well, especially if the Cardinals haven’t addressed their safety need yet.
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
Last season, the defensive line performed incredibly well, and the Cardinals were the league’s leading rush defense as a result. With Darnell Dockett getting older, a big-bodied defensive lineman could give that unit depth as well as plans for the future. Personally I really like Will Sutton, although Caraun Reid from Princeton, Anthony Johnson from LSU and Daniel McCullers from Tennessee also fit that bill.
Others to consider: Logan Thomas, Jackson Jeffcoat
Of course, quarterback is still in play, and Logan Thomas is projected at around this range. The definition of a project quarterback, he’s got the cannon that Arians’ downfield passing scheme demands. If neither, another defensive body would be a good pickup.
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Of all the quarterbacks in this year’s draft class, I like Aaron Murray most, assuming Arizona can get him at a reasonable range. While at Georgia, Murray has a resume not many quarterbacks can boast, and his production and performance throughout his career help overlook the question marks about size and arm strength in my eyes.
Others to consider: Crockett Gillmore, Ryan Grant
If not quarterback (and it likely won’t be), Arizona needs to take the best player available. While there’s no telling who that will be, or even who Arizona thinks that will be, there’s bound to be plenty of guys who will fall for a variety of reasons. Guys like Crockett Gillmore from Colorado State and Ryan Grant from Tulane are just two examples of guys who played at smaller schools, but had productive careers and played well at the Senior Bowl.
Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
Much like the third pick, Arizona struck gold last season in round six, picking up Andre Ellington. With Tyrann Mathieu potentially moving to the free safety spot, Arizona should look for some depth at the nickel, and Aaron Colvin from Oklahoma has the talent to do that. He tore his ACL during the Senior Bowl festivities and may have to miss some time to recover, but this is a guy who could be a very productive player in the long run.
Others to consider: Jeremy Gallon, Alden Darby
In my first mock, I went with Michigan’s Jeremy Gallon, and in my last article I mentioned Alden Darby from Arizona State as guys to take with this pick. Both will likely still be on the board and would warrant the selection, likely the Cardinals’ last of the draft.
No pick here – Traded to Oakland in the Carson Palmer deal
Thoughts? Comments? Agree? Disagree? Comment below!