ESPN draft expert recently released his mock draft 4.0 (visible in full only to ESPN Insiders), this time projecting the first two rounds. At the top, several things are projected to go differently than in other mock drafts. Likewise, it is the story of the quarterback, with six being selected in the first 42 picks.
The number one pick is not a quarterback -- not Blaine Gabbert, not Cam Newton. It is instead Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who would go to the Carolina Panthers.
After that, Denver is projected to break Cardinals fans' hearts. They select Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, who many feel has been the favorite for Arizona's number five pick and a perfect fit in their defensive scheme as an edge rusher.
Next is Blaine Gabbert, who goes to the Buffalo Bills and then A.J. Green, who gets grabbed by the Bengals.
What about the Cardinals?
In perhaps is a surprise, as Patrick Peterson is still on the board, Arizona is projected to select Auburn quarterback and Heisman winner Cam Newton. Here is what McShay says about the selection:
Gabbert would be the better choice if he's available. Miller would also be a consideration as a perfect fit at OLB in the Cardinals' 3-4 scheme. But Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt witnessed first hand the impact Ben Roethlisberger made in Pittsburgh and he knows what a quarterback of with Newton's size and mobility can do for an offense. If Arizona pulls the trigger on Newton expect its offense to be modeled after the system the Steelers have put in place for Big Ben.
If this happens, that would make two quarterbacks drafted by the Cardinals compared to Roethlisberger. John Skelton is the other guy. I guess Whisenhunt really likes Big Ben. However, there is some question as to whether he would have an offense modeled after Pittsburgh. We thought that would be the case after Kurt Warner left and it didn't happen. So, we would have to wait and see.
The one downside to this pick is that once again San Francisco lands LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. If it were my selection and Miller were off the board, Peterson would be my pick. The combination of a guy to play opposite DRC now and, at worst become a game changing safety (the Cardinals will need a replacement at some point for Adrian Wilson).
With Gabbert and Newton both gone in the first five selections, it would be a while before another is picked. Jake Locker is projected to go at number 25 to the Seahawks, thus staying in the miserable Pacific Northwest. Thereafter, the second round is quarterback heaven.
Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton all go in the first ten picks of the second round.
What do the Cardinals do with their second pick? They meet a need, but not the one we would think. We would all figure that the team would look for a pass rusher. This is not the case. They fill a need, and the pick is solid. They are projected to select the highest rated tight end in the draft, Kyle Rudolph fro Notre Dame.
How the Cardinals will address the pass rushing need is still unknown. Likely they ill be able to find a contributor in the later rounds or maybe they have eyes on a guy in free agency (when that can happen).
The second pick, for me, is solid. The pick of Newton is definitely high risk, high reward. What is your take?