The Arizona Cardinals sit with the 13th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
To help get through the doldrums of this season, let’s get a look at a November Mock Draft.
1st Round (13th Overall Selection)
Quenton Nelson - Offensive Guard
Notre Dame - Senior
6’5’’, 330 Pounds
I’m officially listening. Anything should be on the table, considering that most of the positions on this team will be ‘temporary’ for the time being. Seriously, the whole offensive line is mostly mismatched through 10 weeks. Two quarterbacks have been injured. Our bell cow played one game. The receiving corps has been meh. And our best offensive lineman (Humphries) is injured.
So that led me to selecting someone who can bring stability to the front line, and it won’t stop there. Quenton Nelson has the appearance of a pro-bowl guard who displays strength through contact, and finishes through the whistle. I had a tough time deciding between his teammate, Mike McGlinchey, but decided Nelson because I really don’t want to mess with the development of D.J. Humphries on the left side (McGlinchey seems comfortable at left tackle). Nelson immediately fills in at right guard.
2nd Round (43rd Overall Selection)
Trenton Thompson - Defensive Tackle
Georgia - Junior
6’4’’, 295 Pounds
I did my best with fixing the o-line in this simulation, so now I really want to take care of the defensive line. No more playing the 3-4, we don’t have the necessary pieces to be a 3-4 defense, it’s time to be a 4-3 or 4-2, and it starts with what you have in the a-and-b gap. I love the potential of Robert Nkemdiche and Rodney Gunter, so drafting Trenton Thompson of Georgia is gaining a developmental piece.
There’s nothing special for the defensive line draft, so the further down you go, you’ll see less prominent players like Thompson. I like Trenton Thompson because he’s able to plug in holes, and frees up a lot of space for his edge rushers (Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter). Plus, he’s a bonus in dissecting the run. If he developed a pass-rushing game (0 sacks so far), he’d probably be a pro-bowl type of defensive tackle. If they don’t change schemes, Trenton would need to use his body a little bit different. Still, good value in the second.
3rd Round (74th Overall Selection)
Marcell Ateman - Wide Receiver
Oklahoma State - Redshirt Senior
6’4’’, 220 Pounds
This kid was considered an undrafted free agent in the outset of the college season, and that’s what the Cardinals need. A guy who is hungry, someone who isn’t afraid of contact, and can make that jump ball look easy. Plus, the possibility of John Brown, Larry Fitz, and Jaron Brown not being on the roster next year is really REAL.
Ateman has already surpassed his last year numbers, and seems to have garnered some attention in the draft community. Six touchdowns and 700+ yards are good stats for a guy who plays in a spread offense. Mason Rudolph spreads it to 6-7 different receivers per game, Ateman is making the most of his opportunity. Ateman is a contributor, maybe it would be a soft blow for the impending retirement of Larry, or if we don’t retain John Brown and/or Jaron Brown.
3rd Round (99th Overall Selection via Compensatory)
Adam Breneman - Tight End
Massachusetts - Redshirt Senior
6’5’’, 255 Pounds
There’s a story online about Breneman, one of inspiration and inspiration via Bleacher Report. Now he’s a top-flight tight end who seems to possess an extra gear, and would be a top end-zone tight end once he hits the NFL. Adam Breneman is special. He’s an after-the-catch type of guy. Breneman already has 600+ yards and 3 touchdowns with UMass this year.
It’s not time yet to give up on Troy Niklas, as I still think he has a future with the Cards, and that future (in my opinion) does not include the massive debt collection of Jermaine Gresham. If I’m the Cardinals, it’s time to switch up the offense. It does not have enough ‘bang’ for our ‘buck’. I think it’s time to hand over the reins to someone else.
4th Round (136th Overall Selection via Compensatory)
Mike White - Quarterback
Western Kentucky - Redshirt Senior
6’4’’, 220 Pounds
What the Cardinals need in a quarterback is consistency, something that has been up-and-down for the past few years. Carson Palmer has been accurate, Drew Stanton has done an honorable job standing in for Palmer, and we will see what we have in Blaine Gabbert. We haven’t drafted a quarterback since 2014 (Logan Thomas), and we are overdue for such a selection.
For those of us that don’t know who Mike White is during draft season, just know he’s a fairly accurate QB, and makes some throws look easy. Intermediate to deep, White can be accurate. Check downs, add that to the checklist. It’s his reads and recognition that lacks consistency, and with a QB coach willing to take the time for him, White could be a good one.
5th Round (150th Overall Selection)
Davontae Harris - Cornerback
Illinois State - Redshirt Senior
6’0’’, 203 Pounds
I’ve selected small-school players before in my previous mock, and it usually tends to be corner that I lean to. Davontae Harris has been mostly everywhere for the Illinois State Redbirds, and currently has 4.5 TFL, which isn’t typical for a starting corner. He’s a willing tackler, and he displays physical tenacity whenever a receiver comes up to block him.
There is nothing wrong with developing a corner, but it was disappointing to hear that Tramon Williams (who had his best game of the season) surpassed the young and inexperienced Brandon Williams. So, would it be a surprise for the Cardinals to draft a corner? No. I wouldn’t draft one early (in my opinion) because of how deep free agency should be (Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler, Kyle Fuller, Patrick Robinson, and Nevin Lawson).
6th Round (208th Overall Selection via Compensatory)
Khalil Williams - Strong Safety
Houston - Senior
5’11’’, 210 Pounds
Whether the Cards draft a safety or not, it’s probably going to come down to whether they bring back Tyvon Branch or not. He’s played lights out (before the injury), and could be a mainstay. But we are trying to upgrade the position. Development of Harlan Miller hasn’t gone exactly as planned, so I brought in Khalil Williams.
So, who is Khalil Williams? He’s a bit of an unknown, a safety who can play in the box, or you could have him in a man coverage. I’m not overly excited about sticking him in zone coverage, and that’s okay. You don’t need him playing zone coverage. You need Khalil to clean up plays, and to be special teams star. I mean, the guy is always around the ball, and has 6 breakups on the year.
6th Round (209th Overall Selection via Compensatory)
Emmanuel Butler - Wide Receiver
Northern Arizona - Senior
6’4’’, 215 Pounds
I’m trying to build up the receiving corps, one piece at a time, and it starts with Ateman (3rd) and Northern Arizona star, Emmanuel Butler. Emmanuel Butler only lasts until the 6th round because of a shoulder surgery that limited him to two games this season. In all honesty, this injury shouldn’t hurt him too much. Last season, Butler had over 1000 yards receiving, and was a big end zone target, scoring nine touchdowns.
The Cardinals cannot squander the opportunity to pick up youth at any position. I try to tread lightly, being the oldest team in the NFL is not an honor in my opinion. You need a combination of youth and veteran leadership, and the Cards don’t have that in equal parts.
7th Round (227th Overall Selection from Baltimore Ravens)
Roc Thomas - Running Back
Jacksonville State - Senior
5’11’’, 193 Pounds
So far, this season, Roc Thomas of Jacksonville State has gained eleven touchdowns on the year, and is close to surpassing the 1000-yard threshold. He’s not just a running back, he’s also averaging 16.1 yards per catch, which makes him a great target. He’s going to be a great switch up, in my opinion, like when you put in a relief pitcher.
This selection makes Andre Ellington and Kerwynn Williams mostly obsolete for the Cards, as Roc Thomas is a do-it-all transfer from Auburn. Trust me, I like Ellington, and I think that Kerwynn has done an incredible job at punt return. But I don’t want to pay two guys to do one job. That’s a valuable roster spot.