Strange things sometimes happen on draft night. With the Arizona Cardinals selecting 29th overall in this year's NFL Draft, there will be a lot of anticipation as players come off the board. But imagine if what I simulated actually happens later this month. The Cardinals do not need a franchise quarterback right now, but in this simulation, fans might get a little excited -- Carson Wentz falls.
How could it play out where Wentz falls all the way to Arizona?
Well, if the Cleveland Browns decide to go with a player other than quarterback, it means the Dallas Cowboys are the first to go with a signal caller. They go with Jared Goff at number 4. The 49ers pass on a quarterback, as it appears they might stick with Colin Kaepernick (or Blaine Gabbert). Then no other quarterback goes until the New York Jets take Connor Cook at 20.
Teams keep making their picks and Wentz is still there. Then, the Cardinals are on the board and he is still there. The choice is easy, right? Wentz is Arians' favorite quarterback in the class. But two teams come calling.
The Bears want to move up and will give me the 10th pick in the second round and the ninth in the third. The Jaguars the seventh in the second and the sixth in the third. I don't bite. Carson Wentz it is, and the Cardinals are set at quarterback when Carson Palmer decides to move on. So the Cards get the guy Arians compared to Andrew Luck, Blake Bortles and Ben Roethlisberger.
Round 1: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Round 2 is boring. Arizona doesn't have a pick.
On to the third round. The Cardinals' pick comes up and teams come calling. The guys at the very top of the board are not what I want -- some quarterbacks and receivers (who aren't fast). And several guys who could be nice additions are down on the draft board I used -- Vonn Bell, Adolphus Washington, Javon Hargrave. So I bit. I trade back, giving me no Day 2 pick. The Cowboys give me the third pick in the fourth round and the 14th pick in the sixth.
Here is who was available:
The guy I pick is actually just below Bell. Instead of the slower Cash or the shorter Bell, I think of what the Cardinals are trying to do at safety -- get longer and faster. Bell is 5-11 with adequate speed. Cash is viewed as a guy who can only play in the box. The Cardinals already have Deone Bucannon and Tony Jefferson with that reputation, only Cash doesn't have the top end speed Bucannon has. Instead, I take this guy:
Round 4, pick 3: S Jayron Kearse, Clemson
He is 6-4, 216 pounds and ran a 4.56 40, but his tape is fast. He is physical and raw. He has some developing to do, but I like he could replace Tyvon Branch in a year or two.
I have my eye on Hargrave, the dominant lineman out of South Carolina State Seth Cox is really, really high on. In reality, he could be a second rounder, as he has been in some mocks, but since I have not grabbed a defensive lineman, I am hoping he falls.
I pull the trigger and repeat what the Cardinals did to get Rodney Gunter. I move up, trading the 30th pick in the fourth round and the 28th pick in the fifth round to the Oakland Raiders to get the 16th pick. I grab Hargrave. Adolphus Washington is on the board, but Hargrove is my Gunter.
Round 4, pick 16: Javon Hargrave, DL, South Carolina State
He is a 6-1, 309-pound DT. He is considered a little squatty, but his production is undeniable. He was an FCS All-American. Playing the interior, he had 16 sacks and 23.5 tackles for losses -- dominant. That is what the Cardinals look for in small school players.
So now I have the comp pick in the fifth and two sixth rounders. Here is what I do.
Round 5, pick 31: C Evan Boehm, Missouri
I grab Boehm. He probably doesn't start over A.Q. Shipley, but he could next year. He is tough and durable. I considered Glasgow, but at 6-6, that is really tall for a center.
On to the last two picks.
In the last round, I look at "needs" and "wants."
I haven't gotten a long, fast cornerback or a speedy receiver. That's where I look.
Round 6, pick 14: CB Anthony Brown, Purdue
He isn't super tall, but is a tall 5-11. The thing he does have is speed -- 4.33-second 40. He has run it as fast as 4.22.
Round 6, pick 30: WR Kolby Listenbee, TCU
He was the last WR on the board I used, but it would be really hard foor Bruce Arians to pass up on his speed. He was an All-American sprinter and ran the 40 at the Combine in 4.39 seconds. He averaged almost 20 yards a catch in 2015.
So the Cardinals' haul at the end of the draft is:
CQB Carson Wentz
S Jayron Kearse
DT Javon Hargrave
C Evan Boehm
CB Anthony Brown
WR Kolby Listenbee