One of the most fascinating aspects of the NFL Draft especially in the modern era of the NFL is whether teams opt for more conventional type players early in the draft or whether teams are willing to pass on a steed in order to draft a maverick. Typically the steed is the safer choice---you pretty much know what you are going to get. However, a maverick brings a special wild card “it” factor that can add an unorthodox dimension to the football team.
In looking at the potential steeds and mavericks who could be available for the Arizona Cardinals at pick #15, some very interesting choices appear imminent.
At QB: Steed: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma St. Maverick: Lamar Jackson, Louisville. Rudolph is a proto-typical pocket passer, who led all of Division I-A FBS schools with completions of over 25 yards (over 10% of his drop backs resulted in 25+ yard gains). Jackson, on the other hand, passed for over 9,000 yards at Louisville and ran for over 4,000 yards. His electrifying running ability poses anguishing dilemmas for defensive coordinators.
AT RB: Steed: Derrius Guice, LSU. Maverick: Sony Michel, Georgia. Guice brings an impressive combination of power, balance and burst, while Michel possesses rare elusiveness, soft hands and blocking ability.
At WR: Steed: Calvin Ridley, Alabama. Maverick: D.J. Moore, Maryland. Ridley plays so smoothly and effortlessly it’s almost as if he’s playing in a tuxedo. Moore, on the other hand, plays in oily overalls and a hard hat, and turns quick passes into rodeo rides.
At Interior OL: Steed: Will Hernandez, UTEP. Maverick: James Daniels, Iowa. Hernandez is a classic mauler at 6-3, 340 who can dominate at the line of scrimmage, but can struggle to hit moving targets in open space. Daniels is the epitome of the modern era athletically gifted center, who has such extraordinary reach techniques and quickness that he can get to the 5 technique DLs from the pivot.
At T: Steed: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame. Maverick: Connor Williams, Texas. McGlinchey is a road grader who opens wide lanes for RB with punishing drive blocks. Williams is a nimble and supremely balanced pass protector who consistently steers edge rushers wide of the pocket.
At DT: Steed: Vita Vae, Washington. Maverick: Taven Bryan, Florida. Vae is the quintessential run stopper and ILB’s dream come true who at times can be a one man wrecking crew in the middle. Bryan launches off the ball with outstanding explosion to disrupt running plays before the can develop and to apply immediate inside pressure on QBs.
At DE: Steed: Sam Hubbard, Ohio St. Maverick: Harold Landry, Boston College. Hubbard is disciplined, stout versus the run and bull strong in his pass rush. Landry is an edge bender deluxe who can turn the corner to the QB like he’s on skates.
At LB: Steed: Rashaan Evans, Alabama. Maverick: Leighton Vander Esch, Boise St. Evans is a punishing inside the box tackler and blitzer, while Vander Esch is a lean, athletic playmaker who equally excels versus the run and pass.
At CB: Steed: Carlton Davis, Auburn. Maverick: Jaire Alexander, Louisville. Davis is a physical, imposing cover man and run supporter, while Alexander is ultra-quick ball hawk who can flip his hips and shadow with ease.
At S: Steed: Ronnie Harrison, Alabama. Maverick: Derwin James, Florida St. Harrison is a smart, instinctive and highly disciplined run forcer and cover man, while James is an alpha dog who is constantly on the prowl wherever the ball will take him.
In each or some of these cases---which players tilt the scales for you? For me…I favor many of the mavericks, especially Lamar Jackson.
Man, I would love it if the Cardinals wound up with 2 of these players. Not too many of them will be on the board at #47? But, who knows? Maybe one or two will.
Note: I purposely left out the following players because I do not believe they will be available at #15:
QBs: Sam Darnold (steed), Josh Allen (maverick), Josh Rosen (steed), Baker Mayfield (maverick),; RB Saquon Barkley (steed); DE Bradley Chubb (steed), G Quinton Nelson (steed), CB Minkah Fitzpatrick (maverick), LB Tremiane Edwards (maverick), LB Roquan Smith (maverick); CB Denzel Ward (steed), DT Da’Ron Payne (steed).