Each year, the wonderful folks over at Music City Miracles put together a GM mock draft where SB Nation members can sign up to take part in their 7-Round mock draft - where you can make selections for your team, trade picks and what have you - it's pretty neat.
This year I took part as co-GM for the Cardinals and was joined by some prominent members of the Revenge of the Birds community in RedC and Cmcinaz as we took on the task of mocking the draft for the Arizona Cardinals.
If you're interested in checking it out, we compiled a team depth chart, big board full of draft prospects and more on google docs here (you can view without a sign in) - you can also find the full draft in the far right tab of that spreadsheet.
With only six picks entering the draft, our initial thought was trade down, acquire an extra pick or two. We agreed a deal with the Panthers which saw us send out first round pick (20th overall) in exchange for their first round pick (28th overall), third round pick (92nd overall) and 5th round pick (168th overall). We had a thought we would be able to get our target at 28, which turned out to be the case.
Round 1, Pick 28: Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
Despite tallying 46 sacks last season, sixth best in the NFL, the Cardinals' pass rush was inconsistent at best. John Abraham was the biggest threat at OLB, but he will be a free agent next season, along with Sam Acho and Marcus Bernard - the team needs an injection of youth at the position. Ford is an explosive edge rusher with a high ceiling. Just let him rush the passer all day long.
As the draft progressed, there were a couple of noticeable prospects sliding out of the first round. We felt it would be good value to trade up for one of these sliding prospects, so we swung a trade with the Buccaneers which saw us send our second round pick (52nd overall), third round pick (84th overall), fifth round pick (168th overall - from Carolina) and sixth round pick (196th overall) for their second round pick (38th overall), fifth round pick (143rd overall) and sixth round pick (185th overall) - to summarise, we moved up in the second, fifth and sixth round at the cost of a third round pick, which helped us secure our next target, and 17th overall prospect.
Round 2, Pick 38: Timmy Jernigan, DL, Florida State
Both Dan Williams and Alameda Ta'amu (coming off an ACL tear as well) are free agents next offseason and it's questionable whether either would be brought back, so we need some insurance at the position. Jernigan is a powerful player who could play both the 0-tech nose tackle and 5-tech defensive end in our 3-4 defense. He could do with adding a bit more bulk, but he should be a solid starter in Year 2 onwards.
We had a long wait until our next pick in the bottom of the third round, but we knew we had to upgrade in certain areas, one of which was the offensive line. Both right guard and right tackle could use upgrading, but as the draft progressed, one name stuck out to us as the guy we wanted at 92 overall.
Round 3, Pick 92: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
I really like Bobbie Massie at right tackle, but the way this past season transpired, I don't feel that the coaching staff feel the same. With Eric Winston not brought back, Massie and Bradley Sowell will battle for the starting job at RT, unless a rookie is added to the mix. Not too long ago, Richardson was considered a first round pick, and would compete to start (and win in my opinion) for the right tackle job, giving the Cards two huge bookend tackles in the NFC West.
Yet to address the secondary because our targets were being sniped just before our picks, we knew we had to grab a couple of guys in the middle rounds, ideally those who have a high ceiling because the secondary is set for the most part. This next pick might be a little bit of a reach, but we think it was worthwhile.
Round 4, Pick 120: Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
With Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie and Jerraud Powers locked in as our top three cornerbacks going into the season, drafting a corner early won't have much impact early. Colvin was touted to be a second round pick before his ACL tear during senior bowl practice which has caused him to tumble down draft boards. He will be redshirted in 2014 and given a chance to compete for the starting job opposite Peterson in 2015 when fully healthy, assuming Cromartie isn't brought back.
We still had a number of prospects we had rated as third round picks going into the fifth round, and considering we had two picks, we thought this would be a great chance to get some solid talent late in the draft. Our need at safety was still not filled, but fortunately for us a guy we considered in the third round was still sitting there in the fifth.
Round 5, Pick 143: Ahmad Dixon, SS, Baylor
We were unable to secure any of the top safeties in the draft so we opted for more of a project player in Dixon who has a high ceiling. With Yeremiah Bell gone, the projected starter at strong safety is Tony Jefferson, who according to Bleacher Report's Tyson Langland, received a higher grade that potential first round picks Calvin Pryor and Deone Bucannon from some NFL scouts. Dixon has great physical tools but needs to work on his technique before seeing on-field action.
We felt very comfortable with how our draft was shaping up, but there was one position we felt we needed to look at considering the depth of the position this year - wide receiver. Bruce Arians covets a receiver who can take the top off a defense and has electric speed, and that's what we looked for with our next pick.
Round 5, Pick 160: Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
Losing Andre Roberts didn't come as a surprise to many this offseason, but it leaves the Cards lacking a slot receiver. Herron is everything you look for in a slot receiver. He runs crisp routes, has great hands and runs a 4.4 40 yard dash, fitting the WR mould we were looking for. He could prove to be a valuable asset to the team, similar to what they thought they would get from last year's sixth round pick Ryan Swope before he retired prematurely due to a recurring concussion problem.
While carefully weighing up need and value throughout the draft, we came to our final pick where we decided to just take the top player left on our board at this stage. With a number of prospects on the board left with a third round value, we decided to go for a player with upside.
Round 6, Pick 185: Marqueston Huff, DB, Wyoming
Huff has spent time playing both cornerback and safety, he is a true 'tweener' prospect. He has good special teams value and is an excellent athlete running a 4.4 40 time and posting impressive numbers in the three cone and shuttle drills at the NFL Scouting Combine. Possessing fluid hips, it makes sense for you to bulk him up and convert him into a full time cornerback. His technique needs work, but his physical traits are impressive.
So that concludes our draft haul, which allows us to prepare for UDFA pickups. The draft rules were we got to pick five undrafted players, and teams could select the same players. We were left with a bounty of players on our board, including a couple of third and fourth round prospects still available, we took players who we thought fit our system the best.
Dexter McDougle, CB, Maryland
A third round prospect on our board, McDougle is an underrated CB prospect who has good technique and instincts. A shoulder injury is a worry, but he could prove to be a steal in the later rounds.
Shaquil Barrett, OLB, Colorado State
We had Barrett as a fifth round outside linebacker, we were shocked he wasn't drafted. While not being the most physically gifted edge rusher, he still finds a way to beat his opponent through impressive technique. He is consistently disruptive and will contribute in run defense, and projects to be a worthy depth player.
Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
Another fifth round prospect goes undrafted in an uninspiring tight end class. Murphy has decent athleticism and has good speed, but is not particularly agile. Projects to me mainly an in-line tight end of H-Back, he has impressive hands and his size allows him to win contested catches over the middle. Jim Dray replacement.
Jay Bromley, DL, Syracuse
On the theme of DL depth, we liked Bromley's versatility despite not being the perfect fit in a 3-4 defense. Can play DE and DT, Bromley recently ran a sub-5 second 40 time at his Pro Day, which is impressive. He's an athletic prospect who will pressure at the point of attack and take on multiple blockers, potential to be a decent backup.
Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Coastal Carolina
Late round running back prospect, Taliaferro is a big-bodied back who can break tackles whilst possessing smooth feet making him more elusive that you may think. He is impressive as a receiver and runs smooth routes and can contribute in pass protection. (We thought we'd get either Devonta Freeman or Storm Johnson as UDFA running backs, but both went in the seventh round).
That rounds up our draft haul for this community mock draft. Share your thoughts on it in the comments. Which pick did you like most, which didn't you like, how do you feel about the trades, any UDFA players we didn't select you think were worth considering? Love to hear back.
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