With the conclusion of the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl, the Cardinals had an up close look at many of the top prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
One player that might have improved his draft stock and worked his way up to being a top-10 draft pick is Oregon QB Justin Herbert. Many draft analysts believe either the Los Angeles Chargers or the Carolina Panthers will take him with their first round pick. They pick No. 6 and No. 7 respectively.
Fortunately the Cardinals already have their franchise quarterback in Kyler Murray and should have even more options to choose from with their No. 8 overall pick if either of the teams above draft Herbert.
Without further ado, here is my first Cardinals mock draft:
Round 1 (8): CeeDee Lamb - WR, Oklahoma (6-2 195lbs)
Date of Birth: April 8, 1999 (Age: 20)
Based on all the receivers that I have watched of this 2020 draft class, CeeDee Lamb is the best. He has demonstrated his ability to run good routes at Oklahoma to go along with his quality blocking skills. He has good size and speed. Lamb is literally everything you would want in a No. 1 wide receiver. Plus, Kyler Murray was his quarterback at Oklahoma in 2018. It is only fitting for them to reunite and he will have the best mentor in Larry Fitzgerald.
Though the Cardinals could try to bolster their offensive line in the first round, they cannot miss out on getting a game changer on the offense. There is no sure offensive line prospect like Quenton Nelson in this draft class.
Pro Comparison: DeAndre Hopkins - Texans
Round 2 (40): J.K. Dobbins - RB, Ohio State (5-10 217lbs)
Date of Birth: December 17, 1998 (Age: 21)
The Cardinals want to re-sign Kenyan Drake but they need to figure out what to do with David Johnson. Drake might have played his way into a big contract the team might not be willing to pay. Until everything is sorted out, I will assume neither running back will return next season.
Instead, the Cardinals double down on the future of the offense by drafting a workhorse running back in J.K. Dobbins. He set Ohio State’s single-season rushing record this past season with 2,003 rushing yards to go along with 23 total touchdowns. He can do it all as both a ball carrier and pass catcher out of the backfield. It would be shocking to see Dobbins fall this far but the high number of quality offensive linemen and defensive talent in the draft might make this realistic.
Pro Comparison: Josh Jacobs - Raiders
Round 3 (72): Lucas Niang - OT, TCU (6-7 328lbs)
Date of Birth: August 19, 1998 (Age: 21)
Niang was a team captain at TCU and played seven games this past season before suffering a season-ending injury with a torn hip labrum. TCU’s offensive line struggled without him.
He started all 13 games for the Horned Frogs at right tackle in 2018 and did not allow a sack that year. He earned an 86.3 overall grade by Pro Football Focus. He has ideal strength and is also very athletic for his size. If it was not for the concerns with his injury, he would have been considered a first round pick. He could still go as early as round two.
The Cardinals may have found a short-term answer in Justin Murray, who will be brought back as an exclusive rights free agent. Murray made tremendous strides over the course of the 2019 season but the Cardinals can still improve at right tackle. Niang would be a huge upgrade over Murray if he can return to pre-injury form.
Pro Comparison: Morgan Moses - Redskins
Round 4: Alex Highsmith - EDGE, Charlotte (from Buccaneers) (6-4 242lbs)
Date of Birth: August 7, 1997 (Age: 22)
Alex Highsmith might not be a well-known name but he made the third-most sacks (14) in college football this past season. He has an arsenal of pass rush moves from the cross chop to a spin move. He was one of the most dominant players against the run in the last two seasons with a combined 40 tackles for loss. He is a relentless high-motor player and was very disruptive in his time in Charlotte. Highsmith would pair nicely with Chandler Jones. It would not be surprising at all to see him get selected in the third-round and is a player worth trading up for.
Pro Comparison: TJ Watt - Steelers
Round 4: Michael Ojemudia - CB, Iowa (6-1 200lbs)
Trade Prediction: Cardinals trade RB David Johnson, ‘20 fifth-round pick, and a ‘21 fourth-round pick to the Buccaneers for their ‘20 fourth-round pick
Date of Birth: September 12, 1997 (Age: 22)
A David Johnson trade is bound to happen at some point so I took a guess at what it could look like. This might be too much or too little, but anything can happen.
Ojemudia had a very solid career at Iowa. He is a big physical corner that played well in both man and zone coverage. He had six total interceptions the last two seasons. He is not a very fast cornerback but he has enough speed to do well at the next level.
Patrick Peterson has one year remaining on his contract while Robert Alford is coming off a serious leg injury. The Cardinals plan is to play Byron Murphy in the slot, though he should really remain as an outside corner. Ojemudia can contribute right away and bolster one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. Though he could sit and learn behind Peterson while starting off his career on special teams.
Pro Comparison: Shaquill Griffin - Seahawks
Round 7: Calvin Taylor - DT, Kentucky (6-9 310lbs)
Date of Birth: December 24, 1996 (Age: 23)
Taylor had a breakout senior season at Kentucky, setting career-highs in tackles (36), tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (8.5). Although he only had one good year of production, he brings with him rare intriguing size and is a space eater with his long radius.
Pro Comparison: Tanoh Kpassagnon - Chiefs