One might imagine that the two most influential voices for the Cardinals in April’s 2019 NFL Draft will be head coach Kliff Kingsbury and linebacker coach Billy Davis.
The inside intel that Kingsbury and Davis will bring to the table could and should be pivotal.
Right off the bat, if Billy Davis is touting DE Nick Bosa as the #1 pick—-and what coach would know better than Davis who was the linebackers coach on the Ohio St. defense the past two years? Davis has coached in the NFL for 24 years (5 as defensive coordinator)—-he should know what at #1 pick looks like.
In all likelihood, Cardinals fans will know during the free agency period if Bosa is the Cardinals’ top pick, because if the Cardinals re-sign DE/OLB Markus Golden or a UFA DE/OLB like Shaq Barrett of the Broncos—-it would make little sense to use the #1 pick on another edge player.
Davis, who was Urban Meyer’s best man at Meyer’s wedding, is extremely close to the outgoing Ohio St. head coach. Davis has an inside perspective of Meyer’s assessments of the Buckeye players. Thus, Davis will be able to share valuable scouting information, not just on Nick Bosa, but on each player of what is a very deep and talented Ohio St. draft pool:
QB Dwayne Haskins—-RB Mike Weber—-WRs Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, Johnny Dixon, C/G Michael Jordan, RT Isaiah Prince, DT Dre’Mont Jones, CB Kendall Sheffield.
Of these players—-if DT Dre’ Mont Jones (who has 8.5 sacks at DT last season) is on the board at #33—-he is going to be very difficult to pass up. In a normal year, Jones would be a 1st round lock, but the depth at DT in this year’s draft is extraordinary.
OL Michael Jordan and Isaiah Prince could be in play in rounds 3 and 4.
The Cardinals showed interest in WR Terry McLaurin at the Senior Bowl and reportedly asked him if he would take Nick Bosa as the #1 pick. To which, McLaurin predictably said yes.
CB Kendall Sheffield is a blazer—-but needs to be more physical.
Davis would have plenty of info on the best players in the Big 10. He had to defend Iowa’s TEs Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson, for example—-two players to keep an eye on early in Round 2 if they are still on the board.
Moreover, Davis might be a key influence on bringing UFA LB Jordan Hicks to Arizona. Hicks played for Davis in Davis’ last year as DC with the Eagles. Hicks is stout versus the run and outstanding versus the pass. Furthermore, Davis may also be high on UFA DE Brandon Graham whom he coached in Philly.
With Kliff Kinsgbury the Cardinals have a former head coach in the Big 12 who not only played against some of the top talent in college football, he tried to recruit many of them.
Here is a list of the top Big 12 prospects in this year’s draft, by position:
QB: Kyler Murray (OK), Will Grier (WV)
RB: Justice Hill (OKSt.), David Montgomery (ISU), Rodney Anderson (OK)
WR: Marquise Brown (OK), David Sills (WV), Hakeem Butler (ISU), Antoine Wesley (TTU), Gary Jennings (WV), L’il Jordan Humphrey (TX)
OL: Dalton Risner (KSU), Cody Ford (OK), Ben Powers (OK), Dru Samia (OK), Bobby Evans (OK), Yodny Cajuste ((WV)
K: Austin Siebert (OK)
DL: Daniel Wise (KS), Jordan Brailford (OKSt.), Ben Banogu (TCU), L.J. Collier (TCU). Charles Omenihu (TX)
LB: Joe Dineen Jr. (KS), Dakota Allen (TTU), David Long Jr. (WV)
DB: Kris Boyd (TX), Brian Peavy (ISU), Duke Shelley (KSU), Rudwan Issahaku (TCU)
Two of Kingsbury’s players at Texas Tech won All-Big 12 honors this past season: LB Dakota Allen (1st team) and WR Antoine Wesley (2nd team)—-both of these players could be Day 3 picks and good fits for the Cardinals.
But look at those Big 12 offensive linemen. Not only are they 6 of the top OL prospects in the draft, they all played in a version of the spread offense. Picking up one of them on Day 2 would be sweet.
If the Cardinals’ draft looked something like this, would you complain?
- DE Nick Bosa, Ohio St.
- WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
- T Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia
- WR Antoine Wesley, Texas Tech
- G Dru Samia, Oklahoma
6A. LB Dakota Allen, Texas Tech
6B. CB Kris Boyd, Texas
6C. DE L.J. Collier, TCU
7A. K Austin Siebert, Oklahoma
7B. WR Johnny Dixon, Ohio St.
If Steve Keim listens very keenly to Kingsbury and Davis, we are apt to see a draft filled with Big 10 and Big 12 players.