ESPN's Mel Kiper took to the whole mock draft thing a little differently. This time, instead of "projecting picks," he pretends he is the general manager of different teams and makes picks as if it were his decision.
How does that turn out for the Arizona Cardinals?
It actually goes differently than you would expect. In making picks for the Cards in the first three rounds, Kiper does not make a single selection for the offensive line. In round one, with Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson all picked before number seven, he takes linebacker Barkevious Mingo. In the second round, he goes with SMU defensive end Margus Hunt and in the third he goes for safety help, drafting another LSU player -- Eric Reid.
I know it's shocking that I don't get an offensive lineman, but there are two important factors. One, the board sets up really poorly for it at No. 7 without a trade up, and I already had San Diego moving up for Lane Johnson at No. 6. So that's three tackles off the board when this pick arrives at No. 7. And I can assure you, this is very much a possibility next week -- all three top tackles could be gone by No. 6. Mingo is also a great fit for this defense and gives it a high-ceiling pass-rusher. I then grab Hunt at No. 38. I can see him landing late in Round 1 for a couple of teams, and I think he can become a 3-4 DE. Finally, I get a much-needed safety in Round 3. The offensive line is an issue, but the board didn't offer great value at each slot. Perhaps a developmental tackle prospect such as David Quessenberry would make sense in Round 3 (I considered it), but I also think the Cardinals' tackles can take a step forward this season after being rushed into action last season.
While this scenario is interesting, I see how this could certainly be possible.
Head coach Bruce Arians has said that he is comfortable with how the line looks today, as Levi Brown and Lyle Sendlein returning from injuries makes things look a lot better. General manager Steve Keim has said that "best player available" will be the plan, and he also has been on the record saying that there is good offensive line talent throughout the draft, including the late rounds.
While this scenario is possible, I don't think it is very plausible, considering the new regime. Keim has said how he wants to have a much more physical line. One thing the team and previous leadership was wildly criticized for was neglecting the offensive line in the draft. Not selecting a single lineman in the first three rounds would be woefully reminiscent of Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves.
How upset would you be if the team were to not draft a lineman before Day 3 of the draft?
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