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5 Golden Rings for Cardinals in 2020 NFL Draft in Round 1

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Big 12 Football Championship - Baylor v Oklahoma Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

On the 1st day of the 2020 NFL Draft, if the first 8 picks go as follows, per my own prediction:

  1. CIN—-Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
  2. WAS—-Chase Young, DE, Ohio St.
  3. DET—-Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio St.
  4. NYG—-Andrew Thomas, T, Georgia
  5. MIA—-Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
  6. JAX—-Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
  7. LAC—-Justin Hebert, QB, Oregon
  8. CAR—-Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
  9. ARI—-

then, the Arizona Cardinals would have 5 outstanding options from which to choose—-all, of course, depending on what positions the Cardinals address in free agency.

Here are 5 star golden ring players who could be donning the Cardinals hat and #1 jersey the night of April 23rd in Paradise, Nevada:

  1. Cee Dee Lamb, 6-2, 191, WR, Oklahoma

In year one of the Kliff Kingsbury era the Cardinals selected Oklahoma’s #1, QB Kyler Murray and now in year two they may have the chance to select Oklahoma’s #2, WR Cee Dee Lamb.

Both Kingsbury and Murray have all of the intel on Lamb. They know everything they need to know about the player and the character of the person. This is why taking Lamb feels like a slam dunk. He’s a true #1 WR who lays it all on the line on game days. He commands the football and he’s a catch and run freak of nature.

2. A.J. Epenesa, 6-6, 280, DE, Iowa

If there ever was an ideal fit at Calais Campbell’s old 34 DE spot, A.J. Epenesa is that guy. He has the length, the power, the motor and the versatility to make the Cardinals front 7 special.

3. Isaiah Simmons, 6-3, 225, $LB, Clemson

Talk about versatility, Simmons is a DC’s dream come true. He is an instinctive ball hunter who can flip his hips and apply blanket coverage on TEs and RBs. In the Cardinals’ 34, he would be an excellent fit at the $LB spot, but he can also be moved around and play SS. In sub packages, Simmons is an ideal nickel LB. Plus, he is an outstanding blitzer.

4. T Alex Leatherwood, 6-6, 313, T, Alabama

Having spent some time watching tapes of Andrew Thomas, Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills and Alex Leatherwood, I was most impressed with Leatherwood—-first because he is a true LT, both athletically and technically—-and second because he is equally powerful in the passing and running games. I didn't see Leatherwood get out-quicked around the edge as much as I did with Andrew Thomas, as Leatherwood has a quicker setup and steering prowess. Now, I think Thomas is an outstanding prospect. But, I believe that Leatherwood is equally talented and a little more polished. #70 at LT.

5. Travis Etienne, 5-10, 210, RB, Clemson

I didn’t think I had to go watch a ton of college RB tapes until I watched Kenyan Drake make the 80 yard TD in Seattle all about him and his money. Drake has not even come close to rushing for 1,000 yards in a season, he never distinguished himself as the lead back amongst the RBs during his 3 12 year tenure in Miami and now he’s going full-tilt for 8 games which apparently he now believes will urge some team to suddenly heap mega-millions of guaranteed money on him, when just 2 months ago he was viewed around the league as good, complimentary RB. I like Drake a lot and believe he can be the lead RB in the K-Ground, but I worry that he might be playing the Cardinals for suckers (I hope I am wrong).

Thus, just in case, this week I did some close studying of Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin), D’Andre Smith (Georgia), J.K. Dobbins (Ohio St.), Travis Etienne (Clemson), Cam Akers (Florida St. ), Chuba Hubbard (Oklahoma St.) and Najee Harris (Alabama)—-and I like them all

The one who looks most like Drake to me is Chuba Hubbard, but when I looked for a type of electric fit with Kyler Murray, now knowing that, in essence, the RB position in the K-Ground (aka K-Raid) is the second most important position in the offense—-Travis Etienne of Clemson stood out in a big-time way.

Now, some of you will argue that in most mock drafts thus far, Etienne is projected as a 2nd round pick. But, at this time a few years back, so was Christian McCaffrey—-and those McCaffrey fans such as myself were summarily laughed at for touting him for the Cardinals in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft (which became moot when the Panthers took him at pick #8, 5 ahead of the Cardinals at #13)—-and then I was jumping up and down for the Cardinals to take Alvin Kamara in the 2nd round (we traded up for Budda Baker—-so that was a good move), but amazingly the Saints traded up to pick #63 (with SF) to pluck Kamara—-and voila, what a move for the Saints!

When I watch Travis Etienne, he reminds me a ton of Alvin Kamara. He’s not only equally quick as he is fast, this dude is tough. He breaks tackles. And, just like Kamara, Etienne brings electricity to the passing game.

Etienne’s Stats:

2018 rushing: 204/1,658yds/8.1ave/24tds; receiving; 12/78yds/6.5ave/2tds

2019 rushing: 182/1,500yds/8.2ave/17tds; receiving: 29/298yds/10.3ave/2tds

And get this—-Etienne—-in his three years at Clemson—-has never fumbled the ball.

Happy Holidays to all the Birdgangers at home and around the globe. Wishing all of you

“tidings of comfort and joy” and of course, a cardinal in a pear tree.