NFL mock draft 2013: Arizona Cardinals toughen up in SB Nation 7-round live mock draft

USA TODAY Sports

The annual SB Nation live mock draft is probably the grandest undertaking of draft season short of the real thing. Weeks of preparation and nearly 10,000 comments later, check out what the Cardinals war room put together.

Take a look at the storystream over at Turf Show Times if you'd like to re-live the entire event, from finding out where Darrelle Revis didn't go to our bungled attempt to trade a pick to the Raiders that we had already traded (whoops).

For those of you who don't know, the SBN 7-round live mock is an entire weekend of draft mania. Each NFL team is managed by a volunteer -- I had the honors this year -- and as many friends and fans as can be mustered to share their managerial duties in the team's war room. The Cardinals war room expanded to four participants this year (from just lonely old me back in 2012) which might not sound like many, but when you factor that by 32 teams and the staff that kept the event moving forward, it's easy to estimate that over 100 people were involved, not including the readers and analysts that stopped in to lend their opinions.

In addition to myself, the Cardinals were represented by some names that should be familiar to Revenge of the Birds readers. Michael Oliver, cmcinaz, and Alex Mann all pitched in to help get our big board in top shape and ready for the weekend. Mike and cmc were also a huge help to have around during the actual draft. I said it before, but thanks again, guys!

Trading Block

The mocking actually began back on the 16th, when the first trade thread opened on Turf Show Times. That session alone took four days. There were some rules. Each draft pick is assigned a value from this chart, and the difference in total value being sent and received could not exceed 100 points. You couldn't, for example, trade the first overall pick in the draft, worth 3,000 points, for, say, a pick somewhere in the middle of the fourth just for the heck of it. Players were eligible to be traded, as well. If Tim Tebow had qualified for frequent flyer miles, he'd be able to become a permanent resident of an airplane rent-free.

Instead of running you through each trade we participated in, I'm going to try and give you the short version: we were busy. I realize that trading both players and picks "invalidates" a certain aspect of the traditional mock draft, but each trade had to be authorized by the staff and spent a considerable amount of time on the bartering table -- each of the other GM's we talked to were passionate about their team, and about getting the best value they could for what they were sending away. In other words, everyone was acting in what they believed to be the best interests of their respective teams. Still, realize this was as much "for fun" as it was to be taken seriously.

Acquired:

T Rodger Saffold, STL
RB Ben Tate, HOU
ILB Brandon Spikes, NE
QB Ryan Mallett, NE
WR/KR Jacoby Ford, OAK

I admit, between Saffold, Levi Brown and Bobby Massie, I'm not sure who would start, or where. I do know that Saffold is a pretty good player, and that having three tackles is better than having barely two. Ben Tate would add depth to a shaky running back group, and could probably push for a starting job. Spikes is one of the best run defenders in the league and would fit in well next to Daryl Washington. Mallett joined the team as an upside/future-starting quarterback. We weren't happy about the idea of upgrading either ILB or QB through the draft, and New England gave us a fair price for both. Jacoby Ford would bring some speed to the slot and pick up on kick returns where LaRod Stephens-Howling left off. All in all, we were happy with our player acquisitions, and felt we did a lot to upgrade the roster before the draft even started. You can infer approximately what we gave up to get these guys by looking over our final draft order below.

Relinquished:

QB Brian Hoyer
2014 6th round pick

Final Draft Order:

2-03, 3-05, 3-07, 4-04, 4-06, 4-18, 5-35, 6-18, 7-04, 7-13
2014 3rd (Pitt), 2014 7th (Oak)

Despite giving up a chunk of our draft to acquire Saffold and the others, we managed to do it without sacrificing actual picks; for every step down we took early in the draft, we'd make one or two leaps up in the later rounds. We ended our player trading sessions with the 29th overall pick in the first round, but were comfortable enough trading it down a little further given our target and the teams picking behind us. The goal was to acquire picks in certain ranges where we were most happy with the players on our board. Offensive linemen were strong towards the end of the first, safeties and pass rushers filled out the middle rounds, and the end of the draft promised overlooked skill players.

The Mock Begins in Earnest

2-03: Larry Warford, G, Kentucky

With Saffold in the mix at tackle, we took one of the best interior linemen in the entire draft. Warford may look like a one-dimensional mauler, but he's quick in short areas and a bruising, balanced puller. He brings serious grit to the trenches, and is just versatile enough to fit in even a zone-blocking scheme.

3-05: Corey Lemonier, DE/OLB, Auburn

Lemonier's career was up and down as a defensive end at Auburn, but he's one of the better 3-4 OLB prospects in the draft. He'd step in as a pass-rushing threat opposite Sam Acho and make a hard push for the starting job.

3-07: Barrett Jones, C/G, Alabama

Versatility is valuable, and Jones might be an upgrade for the Cardinals at two positions. It's just a shame he can't play both at the same time.

4-04: Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA

Despite adding Ben Tate earlier, Franklin was too much to pass up at the top of the fourth. Some think he's the best running back in the draft, and that made it worth overcrowding our backfield a bit.

4-06: JJ Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern

The Cardinals need safety help. At this point, we couldn't wait anymore and took the best player on our board at the position. Wilcox gets high marks for tackling and ball skills. He would help in a rotation in the secondary while he develops his technique. Despite feeling a little pressure from trying to fill a hole on the roster, we felt this was right where he should have been drafted, and several teams picking after us were sad to see him go.

4-18: Dion Sims, TE, Michigan State

Having added two of the best interior linemen, a tackle, and two new running backs to the roster, it made sense to take one of the best blocking tight ends. Sims would immediately make a fearsome duo with Rob Housler.

5-35: William Gholston, DE, Michigan State

We hadn't intended to draft defensive line, but we were happy with how our earlier picks had fallen and thought Gholston presented good value at such a late spot in the fifth round. He could compete with Frostee Rucker and Matt Shaughnessy for a rotational role.

6-18: Tavarres King, WR, Georgia

King possesses a similar skill-set as our own Andre Roberts. He's a borderline slot/outside receiver with punt return experience and should be an upgrade over LaRon Byrd and Kerry Taylor.

7-04: Travis Long, OLB, Washington State

A do-it-all pass-rushing linebacker, Long lost a lot of traction heading into the draft when he tore his ACL in November (around the same time as Cornellius Carradine and Quanterus Smith). All reports indicate he's recovering well, and may even be ready to play for an NFL team this year. If not, he's worth stashing on the PUP or IR until you can find out what you have in the kid.

7-13: LaAdrian Waddle, T, Texas Tech

With the idea of moving Nate Potter to guard floating around, we thought we'd lock up a developmental tackle prospect for even more depth with the last pick. Signing undrafted free agents is a frenzied mess, and we wanted to make sure we secured one of the highest-upside linemen left.

Undrafted:

Brad Wing, P, LSU
Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley State
Matt Summers-Gavin, G, Cal
John Lotulelei, LB, UNLV
Brandon Bishop, S, NC State
Marc Anthony, CB, Cal

We mostly targeted the best remaining players with our undrafted selections. Charles Johnson is an interesting height/weight/speed receiver with ties to the Cardinals. The others are borderline draftable prospects with some upside who may be capable of pushing for a roster spot as special teamers/depth.

Reader Poll

There you have it, the final haul. I'll be happy to talk about the trades and picks in more detail in the comments if you like, and will work on putting together a graph with the full draft results for you to pick over in a later story and decide on who you would have taken instead. For the poll, please consider both the players we added through trades and in the draft. If you're interested in the specifics of the trades, visit any of the draft stories at Turf Show Times.

Hats off one last time to the TST guys for putting it all together and the Cardinals war room for enduring the whole thing. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm already looking forward to next year!

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