Grading the Mock
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The Arizona Cardinals are wrapping up their draft preparations. With just over two weeks until the Football world turns its head to Philadelphia, the team is finalizing their big board. The team is bringing in players for visits, with two of the top quarterbacks coming in this week.
For this Mock Draft, I decided to try my hand at being the General Manager for the Arizona Cardinals. My methodology was simply to find the best player available who could fit a need, or multiple needs. I kept in mind the age of certain players, viewed potential free agent losses, as well as positions that are currently weak.
I performed this mock Draft through Fanspeak.com, while using the CBS rankings. I used the "Fan-Voted" team needs as well, because fans do know best.
I only do one mock a year, closer to the actual NFL draft, as more players are settled into rounds, and not "well he could be a fourth round pick, but some teams see him as a second round selection".
So without further ado, here is my 2017 Arizona Cardinals Mock Draft.
Round 1; Pick 13, 13 Overall
The first pick was difficult off the bat. Should I go with the top Quarterback left in Patrick Mahomes? The fans love him. I could help bolster the Cardinals secondary with a safety in Malik Hooker. Or even give Carson Palmer another weapon in OJ Howard. At the end of the day, I went with a position that has two potential FA's in 2018, and could use a talented playmaker.
With the 13th Pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select:
Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
Reddick is coming out of college as an Edge Rusher, but many expect a transition to linebacker. Because the team currently has two starters at the position, Reddick is given the benefit of sitting for much of the year to learn his new position. He has a higher ceiling than Reuben Foster, who many consider the best Linebacker of the 2017 draft. If the Cardinals are able to lock up Deone Bucannon in 2018, the Cardinals will have a pair of athletic versatile linebackers in the middle.
Seth has a poll up, asking fans who their preference is. Take a look, and vote Reddick!
Round 2; Pick 13, 45 Overall
Here I knew I was going with a Corner. Both Quincy Wilson and Chidobe Awuzie were on the board, two corners I have absolutely enjoyed watching. Both are similar in coverage. In order to differentiate who I want more, I had to look at their aggressiveness against the run.
Wilson jumped off the page to me. Wilson was willing to throw in his hat to make a tackle, to lay a hard hit in order to jar a ball out. He fought through screens against Missouri in 2016 in order to make a tackle, or to challenge a catch.
Awuzie was aggressive in coverage. But when it came to making a tackle against a runningback, you saw him slow down and throw his body at the back, instead of tackling.
That sold me on who I needed to draft.
With the 45th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select:
Quincy Wilson, Defensive Back, Florida
Wilson fits the mold BA likes. Long corners, who can play physically and aggressively. Wilson has the tools to be a day one starter. His footwork on his backpedal has drawn criticism, but that can be taught. He can be a very good second corner for years to come.
Round 3; Pick 13, Pick 77 Overall
With this pick I very well could double dip with another secondary player. Sitting on the board were two of my favorite safeties in this years draft. Do the Cardinals replace Tony Jefferson? Or do the Cardinals add the ultra talented Jake Butt, who is only sitting here because of his knee injury?
In the end I knew who would add more value.
With the 77th Pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select:
Marcus Williams, Safety, Utah
Josh Jones out of NC State was also on the board, and Steve Keims connection, as well as Adrian Wilson's, could mean Jones would wind up have being the selection, but Williams had to be taken. Realistically, I doubt he makes it to the Cardinals third pick, he's too talented, and shot up too many draft boards to last this long. Williams is an effective run stopper, allowing the Cardinals to utilize him closer to the box, allowing Antoine Bethea the ability to play deep coverage and help the corners. Williams also has good ability to track the ball and make the play. Here's a huge pick he made against Arizona in 2016.
Round 4; Pick 12, Pick 119 Overall
The Cardinals have gone defense only thus far in the draft. They have acquired two talented defensive backs, and a very talented linebacker. The Cardinals do still need to address the offense. There's talent across the board, they have two young players on the offensive line, two young receivers, a fantastic young back as well. They do lose two key players in a year however. Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer did look at retirement after the 2016 season, and both are ready to hang up their boots before too long.
There are still a number of very good receivers in a deep receiver class. I was sitting here hoping that Brad Kaaya would still be available, but he was picked with the last few picks in the third round. So my decision was tough.
With the 119th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select:
Jerod Evans, Quarterback, Virginia Tech
So the Cardinals spend another fourth round pick on a Virginia Tech Quarterback, three years after Logan Thomas. Evans showed plenty of growth at VT in the one year he played at the FBS level. One of the biggest issues scouts have against Evans is his lack of experience. Evans had only one year of FBS play, after spending 2014-2016 at the JUCO level. I think Evans went pro at the right time. He showed enough progress in one year to have scouts interested, while leaving at the right age of 23. Had he stayed for another year, he would have entered the draft at 24, an age that is sometimes too old by some scouts.
Round 5; Pick 13, Pick 157 Overall
Round five is the time I was willing to draft players based on off-field concerns. The next player was expected to be a huge addition for the Florida Gators in 2013. That was until he was forced to leave the program after redshirting his freshman year. He was arrested for "Grand Theft Auto of a motor bike". However he has since been clean, with only that being one of the biggest red flags against him.
With the 157th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select:
Jessamen Dunker, Guard, Tennessee State
Jessamen is a behemoth at 6'4, 318 pounds. He played left tackle, as well as both Guard spots in his four years at Tennessee State. He is expected to make the transition to Guard in the pros, a position scouts believe to be his best spot. His off-field incident pushed DJ Humprhies and him from teaming up on the same side of the Florida offensive line, but could just help him partner with Humphries when Iupati ultimately departs.
Round 5; Pick 35, Pick 178 Overall
Another high risk-high reward player. I knew who I wanted as soon as the pick hit, and he is a guy that I think should be rated higher by CBS. This guy is someone who was brought forward to me by one of my good friends, and is a player that I am rooting for us to pick on Day 3. With me being in control, I get to pull that trigger.
With the 178th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select:
Damore'ea Stringfellow, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss
Stringfellow could be another one of those late round wide receiver picks that become fantastic NFL players under Bruce Arians. Stringfellow was charged with assault after one year with Washington. He committed to Nebraska and backed out shortly after. Stringfellow ultimately found his place with Ole Miss, and after sitting out a year, became a contributor. At 6'2, he offers good blocking in the run game, and also makes 50/50 balls on a consistent basis. He is quick off the line, allowing him to create separation from defensive backs. He does have some lapses in effort, but when he is clicking, and being targeted, those lapses are few and far.
Round 6; Pick 13, Pick 197 Overall
We now enter the Developmental/Special Teams rounds. Zane Gonzalez is still on the board, a very talented kicker who could compete with Phil Dawson. There are also a number of intriguing Tight Ends, as well as linebackers. But I did go with someone who could compete for a roster spot, and possibly cost a certain offensive player his spot on the team.
With the 197th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select:
Michael Roberts, Tight End, Toledo
Roberts grew past being a redzone option, to a consistent contributor on Offense. He's a good blocker, who loses his technique at times. He's a slower tight end, and won't beat many people with his speed, but at 6'4, 270 lbs, he can definitely run over someone. He still maintains his redzone ability, posting 16 TD's his senior year. Roberts could beat out Troy Niklas for a starting day roster spot, and even push guys like Momah or Valles to work harder.
Round 7; Pick 13, Pick 231 Overall
What is the final pick for the Cardinals, they need to find some sort of value. There's a linebacker still available who has caught the attention of numerous scouts. At 6'2, 235lbs, this player was a star in the East-West Shrine game. He made the transition from an Edge Rusher and Defensive End, to an off ball Linebacker. He's a small school prospect, something that Arians and Keim excel at, so I'm dipping my fingers into that pool to see if I can get the same results from him.
With the 231st pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select:
Javancy Jones, Linebacker, Jackson State
Jones had the option of attending bigger schools, with more national attention that Jackson State. Staying true to his character however, Jones decided to attend Jackson State, in order to be closer to his sick mother. Jackson had a monstrous senior year, posting 82 tackles, four sacks, and 19.5 tackles for a loss. Jones had 74.5 negative yardage plays during his collegiate career. Jones may not be available by round seven, as he has garnered interest from several teams, notably the Steelers. Jones could find his way into the fifth round.
To Recap, here are the Cardinals 8 picks in the 2017 NFL Draft:
Is there someone here you would not have even touched? Discuss in the comments below. I will attach a poll to go ahead and grade the mock, be firm! I look forward to debating with you.