We weren’t supposed to be discussing the draft here in December, not yet. We were supposed to be talking about Kyler Murray’s OROY campaign, Kliff Kingsbury’s exciting Air Raid offense, how Patrick Peterson’s return has galvanized the defense.
Uh, about that…
A 6-game losing streak has made it almost impossible to talk about anything but this team’s myriad ineptitudes. (Although I suppose Josh Jacobs’s recent injury issues have given Kyler a shot at the OROY.) And those topics have been talked to death, both here and elsewhere.
So it is with a deep sigh of regret that I reluctantly indulge in some early draft chatter. This team is all but locked into another top-10 pick, so let’s take a look at the team’s needs (basically everything) and survey the draft landscape to see what our options might be come April.
It might be quicker to discuss what this team *doesn’t* need, at least from the perspective of a 1st-round pick. We’re obviously not taking a QB for a third-straight season (thankfully), and we’re fairly well set at RB and OG on that side of the ball—and those positions rarely go in the top-10 anyway. You also don’t take a center in the 1st round. And it sure doesn’t seem like TE is going to be a big part of Kingsbury’s offense, so you can cross that off as well.
On offense, that leaves us with WR and OT as possible 1st-round targets. Sounds reasonable.
On defense… man, we have needs pretty much everywhere. Especially at defensive coordinator. But you can’t draft those. On the field, the only position where we seem pretty well set is safety—Budda Baker and the Thompson Twins should be fine there next season. There are a few other positions where we have elite or above-average players, but we have need even at those positions. Chandler Jones is obviously an elite pass rusher, but he needs help. Byron Murphy looks like a potential keeper at CB, but he’ll need help as well—especially if the team moves on from Patrick Peterson. Consider that a possible need for now until that situation plays out. And another ILB to pair with Jordan Hicks is a must in a 3-4—although the team probably won’t take an ILB that high. Let’s scratch that last one off our list.
So on defense, we could target D-line (end and tackle both), edge rusher, and CB in the 1st round.
Now, let’s put all those positions on both sides of the ball in a rough order of need (we can argue about the actual order later):
- Defensive line
- Wide receiver
- Edge rusher
- Offensive tackle
Now, let’s see who might be there at these positions come April.
Let’s start with the obvious—we don’t have a shot at landing the consensus best player in the draft, Ohio State’s Chase Young. So don’t get too fired up imagining him rushing the passer across from Chandler Jones in 2020.
After combing through a few big boards and mock drafts, here’s a very preliminary list of the players we could be looking at in the top-10 for each position of need:
- Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
- Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
- CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
- Isaiah Simmons, OLB, Clemson
- A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
- Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
- Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
- Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
- Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
We’ll get into scouting reports, stats/measurables, team fit, etc., later on, but for now, this looks like a good preliminary list of Cardinals 1st-round draft targets. (Keeping in mind, of course, that guys will rise and fall on draft boards after bowl games, the Combine, pro days, etc.).
So… what are your thoughts on these guys, Cardinals fans? I don’t know how much I love taking a WR in the 1st round, but Jeudy and Lamb are intriguing. Less intriguing are the OTs, but don’t we need to protect Kyler? Any of the defensive guys could help, but are any of them truly elite talents?
So many questions to answer. Fortunately, we have several months in which to answer them. For now, let’s kick around some of these names—and any others you have your eyes on—in the comments. If only because we have nothing better to talk about.