The NFL draft is just a day away. News continues to filter out and the rumors are swirling. The Arizona Cardinals have the top pick as of this post. As a result, the Cardinals remain involved in nearly every piece of gossip discussing who is getting drafted. Today we take the third and final look at what the potential Arizona draft haul. It’s version 3.0 of our Mocking Birds mock draft series.
*We used the DraftNetwork Simulator and utilized their prospect rankings.
Round 1 (1.1)
This is what Arizona should do. While Kyler Murray is an exciting possibility and could do wonders to make the team fun to watch, adding a first round quarterback in consecutive drafts is a mistake. Looking at the rest of the pool, Williams is right at the same level of Nick Bosa, but with less injury history and less personal drama. Williams was the dominant member of a very talented Alabama defense. He immediately becomes the best player on the Cardinals defensive line. TAKE. QUINNEN. WILLIAMS.
Round 2 (2.1)
Risner is a solid offensive tackle who can start immediately. He can play on either side of the line and could push incumbent left tackle, D.J. Humphries, to find consistency in 2019. Offensive line is the biggest issue on offense. If he’s there, Risner addresses that issue in a major way.
Round 3 (3.1)
Speaking of offensive line help, may I introduce you to Michael Deiter. Wisconsin is known for the powerful linemen who can perform in the NFL (ask Dallas). Sure, there are quality offensive linemen in the later rounds, but guys like Risner and Deiter are a cut above most of them. He can play either guard positions and has the strength and athleticism to challenge for starting time. Arizona has Justin Pugh returning from injury and the injury-prone Marcus Gilbert as their starting guards. Don’t be shocked if Deiter beats either of them out.
Round 4 (4.1)
Arizona needs a wide receiver capable to take the top off the defense. Hardman can do just that. The Georgia product is explosive with the football and provides a valuable option on offensive and in the return game. The Cardinals need a deep threat to help open up space underneath for Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald. For what should be available in the fourth round, Hardman would be a solid choice to address the wide receiver position.
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Round 5 (5.1)
Before anyone screams “YOU CHOSE WILLIAMS ALREADY!”, take a moment and remember how ravaged the Cardinals defensive line was in 2018 due to injuries. Mack is a high-ceiling prospect. Arizona returns to a 3-4 base defense in 2019. The obvious choice to play inside is veteran Corey Peters. However, Peters isn’t getting younger and the Cardinals lack a true replacement. Rodney Gunther projects more to the 3T while Robert Nkemdiche has yet to play an entire season. Mack is a big-body with major athleticism and who has flashed just enough to warrant a late round draft pick. If things work out, Mack gets a rotational spot in 2019 and takes over the following season.
Round 6 (6.1)
Towards the end of the draft, teams often go after talented players with question marks. Redwine is definitely a talented player. The safety out of Miami has the ball skills and ability to play the run on day one. Where Redwine struggles is with his technique, which can often be corrected with coaching. He has the physical qualities to push for significant playing time. Letting him learn under the Cardinals’ current crop of safeties, while using him in special teams, will allow Redwine to pick up the necessary technique to become a solid starting safety in the league.
Round 6 (6.6)
Here we have another addition to the wide receiver room. Hurd is a big-bodied receiver who began his collegiate career as a running back for the University of Tennessee. He was the starter in front of Alvin Kamara. Hurd realized that his body was better suited to play the wide receiver position and transferred to Baylor. He won the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year in 2018 and led Baylor in receiving with 69 receptions for 946 yards and three scores. Hurd is a solid receiver who is still learning the position. However, his transition to a new position shows his willingness to put in the work, while showcasing his athleticism. Don’t be surprised if Hurd has a long career.
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Round 7 (7.34)
Pollard would be a cheaper alternative to T.J. Logan. The Memphis Tiger running back is a return specialist who happens to also play the running back position. However, Pollard does have the ability to run with some power. During his time at Memphis, Pollard was often used in special packages to get the ball in his hands. He averaged a touchdown in just under 14 touches during the 2018 season. While he could use some time focusing on the running back position, Pollard is a versatile talent that offers special teams help and quality depth.
Round 7 (7.35)
Arizona struggled to stop the run in 2018. The Akron Zips linebacker is a bulldog against the run. Gilbert has the great footwork to avoid blocker and shows tremendous instincts defending the run. Coverage lapses are the major issue. Gilbert has the tools to be serviceable in coverage, but he struggles with lapses in angles and picking out his receiver. Gilbert is a special teams player who could become a quality depth piece in a couple of seasons.
Round 7 (7.40)
Perhaps one of the more intriguing options late in the draft, Tauaefa looks to have the physical tools to do some damage in the NFL. Tauaefa has the size to play middle linebacker. He lacks the patience in coverage and needs to allow plays to develop before putting his head down and charging ahead. Tauaefa is a heavy-hitter but needs to take on blockers head-on, as he is prone to avoid and side-step blockers. Tauaefa is another special teams guy who could develop in-depth in run situations.
None of This Matters
At the end of the day, all the prognostications offered by anyone outside of the decision room means nothing. This is the best guess at who is available and where the Cardinals are looking. Trades will happen and will change the mindset of the teams involved. The hope for the Cardinals and their fans is a successful draft. Arizona could be looking at a half-decade of mediocrity if general manager Steve Keim misses with his picks. However, a solid draft, with multiple pieces sticking could turn the ship around quickly. It has been a long draft season, mercifully we’ve made it.