The Arizona Cardinals have too many needs to address but they can do their best to improve this team. With the first pick in almost every round, they control the draft.
This is the year where the Cardinals have to nail their draft picks because this will either extend or end General Manager Steve Keim’s time with the team.
Now the Cardinals had a solid 2018 draft, trading up for their franchise quarterback (Josh Rosen), getting an explosive receiver (Christian Kirk), and possibly finding their future center (Mason Cole). I won’t say this draft was successful as Rosen struggled mightily as a rookie but he’s shown a lot of poise in the pocket despite getting pressured at every snap.
If the Cardinals can have any draft similar to that of last year’s, then they are most certainly going in the right direction.
Without further ado, here is my second Arizona Cardinals mock draft:
Round 1: Nick Bosa - EDGE, Ohio State
Birth Date: October 23, 1997 (21 years old)
Measurement: 6-4 263lbs
Career Stats: 77 tackles, 29 TFL, 17.5 SCKs , 2 FF, 1 TD (29 games)
2018 Stats: 17 tackles, 6 TFL, 4 SCKs, 1 FF, 1 TD (3 games)
There shouldn’t be any second guessing with this pick. Don’t let his core muscle injury fool you. Bosa has been healthy for the majority of his football career and consistently pressures the quarterback with every snap. Add that with his ability to stop the run as well makes him a home-run pick. He is a high-motor relentless pass rusher and is the best prospect in the 2019 draft class.
Round 2: Chris Lindstrom - OG, Boston College
Birth Date: February 28, 1997 (21 years old)
Measurement: 6-4 310lbs
Lindstrom had a strong senior bowl performance and is considered to be one of the top guards in the draft. There aren’t many weaknesses to his game. He’s technically sound in all phases of his blocks, in both run and pass protection. Upper body strength is a big plus for this guy. If Steve Keim really wants the team to play to their strength, then expect Justin Pugh to move back to his natural position at left guard. This would make Lindstrom a good fit for the Cardinals, as he was primarily a right guard at Boston College.
Fans will go crazy if N’Keal Harry is available in the second round and the Cardinals don’t take him. But protecting Josh Rosen should be the biggest priority for this team. They can draft all the receivers that they want but if Rosen is pressured with every snap, these playmakers won’t be able to make plays. Lindstrom is another safe prospect that the Cardinals seriously need.
Round 2: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson - S/CB, Florida
Trade: Cardinals send their 65th overall pick and sixth-round pick (acquired from TB) to the Saints for their 62nd overall pick.
Birth Date: December 20, 1997 (21 years old)
Measurement: 6-0 208lbs
Career Stats: 161 tackles, 15.5 TFL, 4 SCKs, 9 INTs, 3 TDs, 12 PDs (35 games)
2018 Stats: 71 tackles, 9 TFL, 3 SCKs, 4 INTs, 2 TDs, 2 PDs (13 games)
The Cardinals are projected to have 10 draft picks, including three potential compensatory picks. This gives the Cardinals the opportunity to move up in the draft. With Budda Baker expected to move back to strong safety, this team will be in need of a slot cornerback. Gardner-Johnson fits the bill.
Gardner-Johnson is an instinctive versatile defensive back that played as a slot cornerback and safety at the University of Florida. He was named to the AP All-Bowl team. He reminds me of a bigger Budda Baker, with more upside in terms of his ability to play in man coverage. He’s been excellent at stopping the run but even better at intercepting passes. The Florida Gator product would fill a big need in the Cardinals’ defensive backfield.
Round 4: Gary Jennings - WR, West Virginia
Birth Date: March 7, 1997 (21 years old)
Measurement: 6-2 215lbs
Career Stats: 168 receptions, 2,294 receiving yards, 17 touchdowns (45 games)
2018 Stats: 54 receptions, 917 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns (11 games)
One of the biggest reasons why I am a big fan of Jennings is because he doesn’t drop passes often. I project him to run a 4.45 40 or better based on his senior bowl performance alone. He has good size and has proven to win many 50-50 balls at the college level. Although he’s fast, the West Virginia product is not going to make many defenders miss like Tyreek Hill. He’s more than just a deep threat. Jennings is an excellent route runner and was arguably Will Grier’s favorite target.
Now I contemplated putting Texas Tech receiver Antoine Wesley here. It’s great to have players that know the system of their playcaller but he shouldn’t be selected only for that reason. Although it’s good to hear that he was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, Jennings is more athletic and was consistently productive in college. Wesley has speed concerns and lacks the experience that Jennings has.