As the draft draws nearer, speculation rises as to 'who goes where' in the draft. Who's stock is rising? Who is falling? The Arizona Cardinals enter the 2013 NFL Draft off the back of a poor 5-11 season, which see's us hold the seventh overall pick. This year's draft class is stacked with offensive line talent, which is good news for the Cardinals, who are the not-so proud owners of the leagues worst offensive line, according to ProFootballFocus' analysis. I firmly believe that if you have a high first round draft pick, you should be selecting a player that effects the passing game, whether it's a dynamic weapon, athletic pass-rusher, or shut-down corner, And I feel that is exactly what the Cardinals do here. Their philosophy in recent years is to take the 'Best Available Player' approach, so with the seventh overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals Select...
1st Round: Barkevious Mingo DE/OLB, LSU
I'm assuming that elite offensive tackle prospects Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel are off the board by this pick, and I don't feel that selecting a guard this high is an effective use of the pick, factoring in the depth of the position. Barkevious Mingo is arguably the most explosive pass-rusher in this draft. Measuring at 6' 5", 240 pounds, Mingo went for 38 tackles, 8.5 of which were for a loss, and 4.5 sacks in 2012. His production dropped off this past season but his ability was there for all to see. He sent most of his time with his hand in the dirt, but is capable of playing coverage when asked. He has the athletic ability to stick with runners in coverage and has fluid hips, able to change direction with ease. He has long, rangy arms, he has a large wing span, enabling him to have a large tackle radius, and the core strength bodes well in terms of bringing down the ball carrier. Might be used as a pure pass-rusher who 'can' cover, Mingo's explosion off the edge means he gets in the backfield fast. While not possessing a great array of moves to beat the blocker, Mingo's original burst and swift direction changes will often be enough. I Cardinals are thin at pass-rusher, with only Sam Acho & O'Brien Schofield pressuring the quarterback. Mingo would immediately come in on either side and provide much needed pressure, something the Cardinals have missed for the past few seasons. His upside is too much to pass on here. If he can learn to effectively use his hands when beating the block, Mingo can develop into one of the league most prolific pass-rushers, a DeMarcus Ware-esque player in some people's views.
Potential Picks: Chance Warmack OG, Alabama; Lane Johnson OT, Oklahoma; Dion Jordan DE/OLB, Oregon
Video Courtesy of Draft Breakdown.
2nd Round: Larry Warford OG, Kentucky
As previously stated, the Cardinals are in possession of the league's worst offensive line. Rookie tackle Bobbie Massie came on strong at RT down the stretch, and may have earned himself a starting role in 2013. Levi Brown will be back from a triceps tear and Bruce Arians seems to have faith in Levi going forward. Some say the interior line, specifically Adam Snyder, was the weak point. Kentucky guard Larry Warford is touted as the 3rd best guard in the class, and would be a massive improvement on Snyder inside. Warford is nicely mobile for his size at guard and is able to push well and block on the second level well. He does all the things you want out of a guard well. He excels in both pass and run blocking, opening up lanes for the Cards backs Rashard Mendenhall & Ryan Williams, A big, reliable blocker up front will help both offensive plays, run and pass. The run game has been in deterioration for many seasons now, mainly because of poor offensive line play, hopefully it will pick up with a high-end guard in place. Warford not being the most athletic guard prospect, often takes time to get going in protection and create a firm stance with power. When he is in position he is a hard target to move around. The offensive line needs to be addressed, and Warford is the best available player at the position at this point.
Potential Picks: Alex Okafor DE/OLB, Texas; Kyle Long OG, Oregon; Menelik Watson OT, Florida State
3rd Round: Bacarri Rambo FS, Georgia
Following the release's of safeties Kerry Rhodes, James Sanders and Adrian Wilson for cap purposes, safety suddenly became a pretty big hole on the teams defense. Rashad Johnson resigned for the next three seasons, would expect him to be the starting strong safety going forward. The team signed New York Jets starting free safety Yeremiah Bell in free agency also. Bell, being 35, is not a long term answer, and we need to look into the draft for an answer. Rambo is a very talented player. Possessing good size at 6' 0", 210 pounds, Rambo plays well when reading the quarterback. He visualises plays in deep coverage, watching the quarterbacks movements well, and moves towards where the ball is heading and makes plays. Rambo has great ball skills, a play-maker in the defensive backfield, attacking the ball at its highest point, and will compete hard with strong receivers. A strong aspect of his game is his closing speed on the ball carrier, he times his tackles well in the open field, and packs a punch when he hits too. A big, physical player in the secondary is a much needed addition. Not the finished product. His skill-set needs refining, and needs to develop in run defense, but bags of potential and may challenge to start from day 1.
Potential Picks: Zac Dysert QB, Miami (Ohio); Jon Bostic ILB, Florida; J.J. Wilcox FS, Georgia Southern
4th Round: Quanterus Smith DE/OLB, Western Kentucky
Somewhat of a luxury pick here, but the value may be too good to pass up. Smith was arguably one of the most rounded pass-rushers in the class before his unfortunate knee injury which has resulted in him plummeting down teams draft boards, but in most scouts eyes, Smith was a first round talent. The long-term effects of the injury may scare teams, but for a team like the Cards, who are not afraid of taking risks, like they did with O'Brien Schofield when he came out of college, will take a chance. Smith is a pure pass-rusher, similar to Seattle's Bruce Irvin, in terms of they have not mastered the art of playing the run, often targeted on designed runs, but Smith's freakish ability of beating blockers is there for all to see. He has great closing speed and hits incredibly hard. With Mingo on board, we can afford to 'redshirt' Smith for the 2013 season, allow him to go through the full rehab process and come into 2014 ready to start. Ideally would be used on passing downs, Smith works hard to get into the backfield on a regular basis, and would be a great depth/rotation player at OLB, this allows the others to rest and stay relatively fresh for the full game. Effective on either side of the line, would really pressure one side and create a mean tandem with Mingo, giving the Cardinals two pure edge-rushers, both would be an upgrade.
Potential Picks: Tavarres King WR, Georgia; Shawn Williams SS, Georgia; Vance McDonald TE, Rice
Video Courtesy of Draft Breakdown.
5th Round: A.J. Klein ILB, Iowa State
The emergence of Daryl Washington last season brought his talents onto the big stage, earning him a Pro Bowl appearance for him team leading 108 tackles and 9 sacks on the season. As the NFL universe opened their eyes to Daryl's talent, they also saw a large hole next to him in former defensive co-ordinator Ray Horton's 3-4 scheme. Paris Lenon wasn't the answer, and neither will Jasper Brinkley. Klein is a talented linebacker who possesses the strength and skill to move past blockers and make tackles. He is a very instinctive player who watches the play materialise and target the ball carrier. Klein will make a play on the ball every down given the chance, he plays the run game effectively and is a very strong tackler. Not the most athletically gifted player, but his skill-set suits Washington's they would make a nice pair. Washington is the dynamic play-maker, meanwhile Klein would go under the radar in terms or tackles. A much better in-game talent than what we see on paper, his instinctive nature allows him to follow the play and follow the ball, and is nice value in the fifth round. Effective on blitzes, Klein has all the characteristics to make an effective inside linebacker in the league, without being a headline maker on defense.
Potential Picks: Nico Johnson ILB, Alabama; Jawan Jamison RB, Rutgers; Marquise Goodwin WR, Texas
6th Round: Josh Boyce WR, TCU
After cutting wide receiver Early Doucet over the off-season, the Cardinals could do with an extra receiver, give Palmer something else to work with. When you look at the receiving core, there is no real burner on offense. This can be rectified with Boyce, running the 40 yard dash in the 4.3's at the Combine, and a good showing the the receiving drills have given his stock a lift. Boyce shows good versatility, in being able to line up outside and in the slot, creating mismatches, avoiding cornerback coverage. Boyce has nice size at 6' 0" 206 pounds, Boyce can take hits over the middle from defenders and shake them off well, he combines that size with breakaway speed, able to run away from defenders. Boyce can also be utilized on the return game, and may be a replacement for LaRod Stephens-Howling on kick-off returns. Tough to bring down after the catch, Boyce avoids tacklers well to gain extra yardage, and is a nice check down target when first few reads are unavailable.
Potential Picks: Ace Sanders WR, South Carolina; Matt Scott QB, Arizona; Micah Hyde DB, Iowa
7th Round: Mychal Rivera TE, Tennessee
The team cut their losses on perennially injured tight end Todd Heap during the season, leaving Rob Housler as the only reliable tight end on the field. Arians likes to use multiple tight end sets, like he did in Indianapolis with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Rivera is a very talented receiving tight end out of Tennessee who pairs well with Housler. At 6' 3", 242 pounds, Rivera looks like an ideal red zone target, a big bodied receiver who can out-muscle defenders for the ball. Would also make sense to utilize him as a third down target and move the chains, a problem the Cardinals had last season. Room for development as a blocker, but has the physical traits to excel in that area. Not an explosive receiver, nor does he have the athleticism that Housler possesses, but Rivera is an ideal No.2 tight end on the roster to compete against Housler and aid his development.
Undrafted Free Agent Targets:
Luke Marquardt OT, Azusa Pacific
Matt Summers-Gavin OG, California
Brandon Kaufman WR, Eastern Washington
The Arizona Cardinals are not far off competing as their 5-11 record would suggest. A capable defense, a talented wide receiver core, and finally a quarterback who can be relied upon to make the throw. With a good draft, the Cards will be in the mix for a wild-card spot in the NFC.
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