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Free Safety Blitz Saturday Tidbits and Open Thread

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Musings from the week on the Arizona Cardinals.

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

  • First and foremost, happy birthday wishes to Larry Wilson, the acrobatic centerfielder in football pads who patented the safety blitz on the NFL. Carpe the B-Diem, #8.
  • Interesting that the Cardinals showed up in full force at USC’s pro day. It would appear that the Cardinals are not within reasonable striking distance to trade up to draft QB Sam Darnold. I think many scouts are still a little buzzed over Darnold’s breakout season in 2016. But, his 2017 performance was sobering. My issue with Darnold is his throwing motion. He tends to tilt backward on his throws and more often than not his passes do not come out clean or tight. Jared Goff had a similar issue at Cal, but appears to be ironing that out. Saw the same thing from Davis Webb which made me leery of drafting him.
  • The other USC players worth some attention are RB Ronald Jones (6-0, 200), DE Rasheen Green (6-5, 275), WR Deontay Burnett (5-11, 170), OLB Uchenna Nwosu (6-2, 240) and G Viane Talamaivao (6-2, 315). Jones is a shifty and quick all-purpose RB who should be a top 50 pick. Green is going to rise up draft boards because he can rush the passer from outside or inside. Burnett is a quick playmaker, but will slide to Day 3 because of occasional drops and the fact that he is a string bean. Nwosu is an aggressive, high energy downhill defender who is best suited to play 34 OLB. And Talamaivao is a solid run blocker who may also be able to play center.
  • Reports are that the Cardinals are going to have a private meeting with Josh Rosen. Hey, if they were willing to roll the dice on Sam Bradford, maybe they would be willing to do the same on Rosen (two concussions, shoulder). Unlike Darnold ,Rosen’s set up/delivery is textbook. But Rosen is not as athletic or durable as Darnold. Plus Rosen behaves like a supercilious, petulant asshat at times. But, the fascinating thing to me is---and I thought about this several times when watching him play---if you painted his nose yellow and surrounded his eyes with eye black and painted the rest of his face red---he’s the spitting image of a cardinal! I shigger you not. Picture it yourself!
  • If Jared Veldheer passes his physical with the Broncos, it’s impressive that Steve Keim held out and got a draft pick in return for him (recovering one of the 2 6th rounder’s lost in the Adrian Peterson trade). As we know, when healthy and focused, Veldheer is an above average left tackle in pass protection, albeit he’s probably average as a run blocker. Plus, ee’s missed 11 games the past two seasons, he took a day off from TC to contemplate retirement and on national TV he got thoroughly manhandled by DE DeMarcus Lawrence. Part of that can be blamed on BA’s refusal to give Veldheer help, even when it was clear that Lawrence was overpowering him. Virtually all RTs in the NFL need help blocking Lawrence. But, to Veldheer’s credit, he used that humbling performance as motivation and from that point on played good football. Thus, in light of the circumstances, a 6th round pick (#182) is much better than nothing, especially in a year where the Cardinals have so many needs. And it clears up $6.7M in cap space (Cardinals now have approximately $21M in cap space).
  • Spent some time yesterday watching newly acquired CB Bene Benwikere and he’s the classic kind of underdog I love to root for. He’s got some game, there’s no question. He’s aggressive in run support (yes!), is solid in zones, but needs to improve his leverage in man and has to do a better job of mirroring double moves. The good news is, he has pretty good recovery speed. I think he’s got a chance to make the roster and be a contributor.
  • I am not a big fan of CB Marcus Cooper. He flashes one play and disappears the next. Not a very physical player. I don’t see him as a CB Steve Wilks would like or prefer---which makes me worry that Keim is not adjusting to the new style of defense and is still re-signing players BA would have been ok with.
  • I have a sneaking suspicion that QB Lamar Jackson is going to be off the board by pick #15 which is why I am hoping the Cardinals trade up for Jackson. If they can’t and he’s taken, I feel confident that Mason Rudolph will still be available. The temptation may be to trade down with the thought that Rudolph could still be available later in the 1st round. That, imo, is a gamble not worth taking. The Cardinals need to act with conviction. They have done a superb job of scouting Rudolph. Take him at #15. With that in mind…here’s a Mock Du Jour (dedicated to one of my childhood idols, Larry Wilson):

15---Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma St.

47---Billy Price, C, Ohio St.

79---Rashaan Gaulden, CB, Tennessee.

97---Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio St.

134---Marcel Ateman, WR, Oklahoma St.

152---Tre’Quan Smith, WR, Central Florida.

182---Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan.

255---Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham.