The Cardinals have been linked to a lot of players in mock drafts over the past 2 months. So, I'm going to start diving into some of them.
One name that has come up a lot after free agency is Ryan Kelly. We all know that Steve Keim loves offensive lineman (being a former one himself), so this idea should come as no surprise as it's now arguably the biggest need on their offense.
Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Height: 6-4. Weight: 311. Arm: 33.63.
40 Time: 5.03.
Projected Round (2016): 2-3.
"STRENGTHS: Communication skills and grit made him the glue of the Alabama offensive line. Boasts the awareness and strength you would expect from the leader of Alabama's offensive line. Quite athletic, slipping to the second level easily while run blocking and mirroring defenders while in pass protection. Has not allowed a sack the past two years.
WEAKNESSES: Average-at-best size, length and growth potential. Needs to continue and develop his power. Quick movements based more on awareness rather than explosive traits."
Overall Rank: 26
Position Rank: 1
"Strengths: Heady player with tons of grit and fight. Shows the toughness to scrap it out against nose guards in an odd front. Fluid mover in space with knee bend and athletic hips.
Weaknesses: Might need to add some beef to his frame. At times, gets overly committed to his secure block and fails to see a downhill linebacker dart in behind him. Needs to work on timing of combo blocks."
Position Rank: 1 (Grade: 5.8)
Note: NFL.com is probably the lowest on Kelly, as he is notably behind several T's and G's (Le'raven Clark for example, who is considered a raw prospect by many sites).
"Alabama had a ton of success with Kelly opening holes for Derrick Henry in 2015. Kelly is a well-rounded player. He is solid at executing double teams with quickness to the second level. He can combine with guards to get movement in the ground game. He also is very reliable in pass protection. Kelly has good technique and should be able to play quickly in the NFL. Sources said that Kelly interviewed well at the combine."
Position rank: 1
These are just some general excerpts from these three sites. So, to takeaway, Kelly is a fearless leader who has a lot of toughness--mental and physical. The thing I keep seeing is he needs to bulk up and add some power/athleticism. These traits can easily be developed within the right NFL system, and maybe I am a little biased, but I believe Arizona is one of those.
What do you guys think? Should Arizona take Kelly at 29? The last center to be drafted in the first round was Travis Frederick in 2013 for the Cowboys at pick 31.
Should the Cardinals trade back with someone at the top of round 2, and get an extra pick and select Kelly anyway? (Outside of Jacksonville, not a huge need for the top 8-10 teams that could trade back into round 1) if there were to do that, some teams that come to mind are San Francisco (they have the most draft picks with 12), Cleveland (need a QB?), or possibly Dallas (who may also want to get a Paxton Lynch or Connor Cook before the Broncos).
Either way, the Cardinals sit in a good position. What are your thoughts on Kelly?