As we get closer to the 2015 NFL Draft, we get more and more speculation and certainly our share of mock drafts. ESPN's Mel Kiper now has a three-round "Grade:A" mock draft, which is not a projection of picks, but a selection based on what he believes is best for the team.
His three picks for the Arizona Cardinals aren't ones to really complain about.
Top needs: RB, OLB, C, CB
Round 1 (24) RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Round 2 (55) LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA
Round 3 (86) OLB Nate Orchard, Utah
Analysis: Again! Yes, I'm being hypocritical in my usual stance on taking a running back in Round 1 -- that usual stance being, "Don't take one" -- but I think Gordon makes some sense for us here. He's an immediate impact player at a major position of need, and given the state of the roster, we're in a position to fill needs with the goal of competing for a championship if we can stay healthy at QB. So if this were a lesser team, I don't think Gordon is a reasonable pick, but the Cardinals are looking at things through a different prism. In Round 2, I add an inside linebacker who can cover. Anybody who saw the way Larry Foote was occasionally targeted (and beaten) last year in the passing game understands this pick. And in Orchard I'm getting depth in the pass rush from a player who has shown the ability to get to the QB in college, even if he's not a workout stud. He was able to beat tackles inside and outside last season and improves our depth chart. Gordon becomes one of the favorites for offensive rookie of the year, and hopefully the defense gets one immediate starter and some useful depth.
The Cardinals pick up perhaps the top back in the draft. They land a playmaking linebacker whose skills are reportedly best for what the Cards need at inside linebacker. They pick up a pass rusher, and one of the more productive ones at that.
Could Kiper gone a different direction? Certainly.
Cornerback seems to be a position of focus as well and there is a run of cornerbacks who come off the board after the 24th pick. Marcus Peters, Jalen Collins, Byron Jones and Ronald Darby all get selected between 25 and 32.
But in terms of getting players who could potentially make an impact right away and fill key needs, these picks are hard to argue with, even if you don't necessarily think a running back should go in the first round.