Despite the fact that the BCS National Championship game last night was a bit of a snoozer, there was still somewhat of a reason to watch. Many players might have played their last games of college football, as they will look to take their talents to the next level and be selected in the NFL draft this April.
With two teams of this caliber playing, you know there are going to be a plethora of good NFL prospects. But which ones make sense for the Arizona Cardinals? After the jump, let's take a look at some potential draftees and why they would fit in perfectly wearing Cardinal red.
SI.com released this piece before the game yesterday, which details all of the next level players in the championship game and what round they may get drafted in. Obviously, the Cardinals don't have enough picks to draft all of these guys (bummer, I know), but there will be a few of them up on their draft boards.
Mark Barron, Safety - Alabama
There will come a day when Adrian Wilson is no longer able to play anymore and someone will need to take his place. Rashad Johnson, also a former member of the Crimson Tide, hasn't shown us that he can be that guy as of yet. But what about the potential of an Alabama tandem in the secondary? Barron, as described by Sports Illustrated, has great ball skills and the size to be an outstanding NFL safety. The only problem is that he has a first round grade as of now and I am not sure if the Cardinals can afford to spend that pick on a one or two year backup.
Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB - Alabama
Here is a guy that has been mentioned a few times around ROTB already. Named the championship game's defensive MVP, Upshaw can get to the passer as well as some of the best in the nation. The Cardinals are looking for another young guy to take the reins from Clark Haggans and Upshaw is seemingly the perfect man for the job. If he enters his name into the NFL Draft (which he will), the Cardinals need to seriously consider taking him.
D.J. Fluker, T, Alabama
Fluker is a 6'6", 335 pound offensive tackle for the Crimson Tide. Enough said, let's go get him.
In all seriousness though, he is receiving a third round grade and could be a huge upgrade over Brandon Keith at the right tackle position. Russ Grimm was looking for a young talent to develop at tackle in the last draft and it's about time that we give him his guy.
Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU
Although Montgomery is expected to stay in school for at least one more year, he would still be another option for the Cardinals in case Upshaw is already off the board. Montgomery can both rush the quarterback and play against the run and with his quickness, he would be able to play in coverage fairly well as a linebacker at the next level. Again, Sam Acho is already looking like a sure thing for many years to come. The Cards should pair him with another elite young talent and Montgomery could be just the guy.
Alex Hurst, T, LSU
Hurst is another right tackle that could immediately come in and compete for the starting job on this Cardinals football team. He is mentioned as being a smart football player and one that can open up run lanes with ease. The Cardinals do not have a second round pick, but if he is still on the board by the time their name gets called in the third round, Hurst becomes a viable option.
Russell Shepard, WR, LSU
Shepard is a 6'1" receiver that has no problem making his way down the field in a hasty fashion. He has played a multitude of positions while playing for Louisiana State, so he even brings the potential for many different gadget plays in the Cardinals' offense. I picture him as a Percy Harvin type of player, as he also has the ability to be a kick and punt returner (not that we need one or anything). Shepard is another option for the Cardinals front office to consider in the third round.
Obviously, these players' draft rankings will shift around quite a bit before draft day arrives with the Combine, independent workouts, injuries, etc. But these are some preliminary names to keep a look out for. The Cardinals need to keep infusing great young talent into their roster, so they may as well start with players that have played in the finest of college football programs.