With the Cardinals finally past the first wave of free agent signings, it’s time to take their additions and subtractions and look to diagnose the best available talent to fill the holes they have on their team.
Some of the signings such as Dansby, Gresham, Chandler Jones and Andre Ellington returning will mean that some needs might be filled for the moment, while others have become far more prevalent.
For this article, I am using FanSpeak’s Mock Draft Simulator, (a fun resource for any wannabe NFL GM) and am basing my board around the available players. The draft process was a random one based on big boards and team needs without me forcing any picks by taking a player who was already off the board in this scenario.
So who might the Cardinals draft to fill their needs? Let’s begin:
Round 1, Pick 13: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
For this mock draft, I decided to do something I hadn’t done before and probably won’t do again for the rest of this draft season: skip going by the board and take a quarterback (just like Kevin Costner in Draft Day “the top QB left no matter what”), something I’m not sure if the Cardinals might actually do or not.
What’s interesting about this scenario are not only taking a QB so highly in what’s called a poor quarterback class, but also some of the talent that was already gone and some that was still on the board.
Watson and Trubisky were both gone by 13, leaving Mahomes who, while I might think is the best fit anyway, was still ranked much lower compared to the other prospects on the board overall. But, if Arizona follows their plan of drafting and developing a player in the first round as they have the past two years with Humphries and Nkemdiche, perhaps it’s not too out of the question.
Some Cardinals fans will love this pick. Some will roll their eyes at it or get mad. Fortunately, I’m just a writer (and part-time tweeter) with an opinion and not
Round 2, Pick 13: Marcus Williams, S, Utah
The departures of Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger mixed with the addition of 33-year old Antoine Bethea and inconsistent health of Tyvon Branch means that there is still a hole at center-field for the Cardinals.
While a Rashad Johnson reunion isn’t out of the question, perhaps, youth could be infused into the position to make up for the youth that departed.
Williams is all that and more, with athleticism to boot. While Obi Melifonwu was still on the board (he likely won’t be come draft day) and he may get all the publicity as an athletic freak, Williams has been a better and more consistent safety prospect and is a crazy athlete to boot as well.
He might not be ready to start Day 1 for Arizona but I could see him getting more reps and snaps similar to how Markus Golden and Tony Jefferson did in their rookie seasons.
Round 3, Pick 13: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
The Cardinals have three things they like to look for in a defensive back: taller than 6’0, rangy athlete and production as a corner who fits their scheme.
Tankersley, as a result, is a player they could look at. He compares somewhat to Marcus Cooper in how he projects to get burned occasionally in his game but will still shut down opposing wide receivers and hauled in 8 interceptions, similar to Cooper’s 4 picks this last year.
Tankersly and Williams would fill the two biggest holes left by Tony Jefferson and Marcus Cooper, while leaving the other defensive linemen Arizona has to step up after Calais Campbell’s departure
Round 4, Pick 13: Isaiah Ford, WR, Virgina Tech
Big WR? Check.
Blocking skills? Check.
Deep-threat ability? Check.
Isaiah Ford might be a prime Day 3 candidate to fill Michael Floyd’s role in the Cardinals offense. There are some questions to his game and his 40 time wasn’t up there in the elites but his tape shows he could be reliable down the field and help complement Fitzgerald/Brown and Nelson.
Round 5, Pick 13: James Connor, RB, Pitt
Looking at Connor’s resume (and great story) compared to what Steve Keim loves in the prospects he drafts....Connor might be a match made in heaven for the Cardinals as far as off-field goes.
Not only did the man beat Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but he was a team captain with heart who produced for over 1,000 yards and 16 TD’s this past year. He’s a bruising back who can make catches out of the backfield and is a tough blocker and redzone threat with a motor and desire to find the endzone.
Keim loves that type of player (see: Markus Golden and David Johnson’s work ethics and tenacity in college for example) and I could see Connor and Johnson be a “Thunder and Lightning” combination in the desert.
Two humble, hard-working running backs could be something we haven’t seen in the Desert for a long, long time.
Round 5, Pick 35: Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas
What does Bruce Arians want in a tight end?
That’s Sprinkle’s strength, and he has the size and ability to go over the middle for tough catches as well, making him a great fit for Arizona here in the 5th.
While his 4.7 40 time was one of the slower ones for a tight end, that’s because:
- Speed isn’t his game, and it doesn’t have to be
- Tight ends this year had one of the fastest combines ever, if not THE fastest ever
So maybe Arians sprinkles a young tight end into the draft this year. If he does, Jeremy’s a guy who could get it done.
Round 6, Pick 13: Davon Godchaux, LSU
The Cardinals have gone back to the LSU defensive well before and here they do it again, grabbing a player who helps fill in the 3-technique inside rushing role that Calais Campbell left.
Godchaux was a starter for LSU as a freshman with all that talent on their defensive line and was productive for the last three years. He could jump right in to Arizona’s defensive line rotation and gives them a guy behind Robert Nkemdiche as well if their first-round pick from last year doesn’t step up like D.J. Humphries did after a year on the bench.
Round 7, Pick 13: Artavis Scott, WR, Clemson
The Cardinals have had success with late or undrafted finds out of Clemson recently. With Andre Ellington and Jaron Brown both being valuable contributors on the Cardinals, if not starters.
For a league as difficult to find a way into as the NFL is, guys who can stick on a roster and contribute are valuable.
Artavis Scott, athletically, might be just a guy who benefitted from Clemson’s system and Deshaun Watson, but so was Jaron Brown. And being behind more talented guys hid Jaron from the majority of NFL scouts but he still rose to the top.
Scott is a hard-worker who could be the same way, and to boot, he was a kickoff returner in college and could easily give Arizona a special teams impact and have a chance to make the roster despite the stacked wide receiver room.
Thoughts on this mock draft?
Hate the picks? Would kill for a draft like this? Sound off in the comments section!
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