ESPN's Mel Kiper is back with his fourth mock draft of the offseason. The popular and oft-criticized Kiper has the Arizona Cardinals going the same direction as he did in his 3.0 installment not too long ago. He believes Arizona will address the running back position in the first round.
He has Arizona taking Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.
I'm keeping this pick the same. As I noted before, a healthy Andre Ellington means Arizona will have big-play potential in the running and screen game, but he's a health risk and simply isn't on Gordon's level. Gordon has the explosiveness that you need from an RB taken this high -- he's a true game-breaker -- but he's also proved durable. There's always a value question for a running back taken this high, but we can all agree Arizona is built to contend for a deep playoff run if the team is healthy at QB, and Gordon simply makes an offense better now. A need at linebacker is something the Cardinals can target later in the draft.
Head coach Bruce Arians has said he would like to add a big and fast back. At 6-0, 215 pounds, Gordon is a bigger back and he does have the speed you want.
The question is whether the Cards will target a back this early, especially when Arians said the guy they want could be had later on in the draft.
Nonetheless, Gordon is believed by many to be a top end talent. With the 24th pick, it might be hard to get someone who will give as much impact from Day 1 as Gordon. The players than follow in Kiper's mock wouldn't get nearly the amount of playing time as Gordon could. Guys like D.J. Humphries, Marcus Peters, Jalen Collins, Andrus Peat and Byron Jones probably would start their careers on the bench.
Pass rushers and edge players like Preston Smith and Eli Harold are also available, but neither is taken in the first round in this mock draft.
Which way should the Cardinals go? Is Gordon the best bet in terms of Year 1 production?