The Mock Draft cycle, which seems to go from essentially Week 1 of the regular season until the night before the NFL Draft (and then the next morning you see a mock draft for NEXT year, guaranteed) is a vicious cycle.
Comments, team fits, meetings, rumors and the like are all part of the dramatic movement that seems to be the closest thing that American males have to The Bachelor on ABC.
“Kyler Murray, will you take this rose?”
Alright enough about that. Let’s break down one NFL Draft expert’s intriguing mock draft from The Athletic in one Dane Brugler as he had an interesting scenario for the Cards in his latest mock draft...
The first 7 picks as follows featured QB’s Burrow along with Herbert and Tagovailoa (the former to the Chargers at 6 and the latter via a Lions trade), Chase Young, a tackle in Wills Jr, Okudah the cornerback and another tackle at pick #7 ahead of the Cardinals.
Essentially, three tackles in the first 7 picks. As for AZ he had them trading down from #8 with an old friend.
With the trade back, the Cardinals made their pick at #12 after watching defensive players Simmons, Brown, tackle Wirfs and Kinlaw come off the board to take...
Now I know what some of the reactions to this could be:
- “How could the Cards pass on a talent on defense like Simmons or Brown at 8?”
- “Why not take the tackle there?
- “If they want Lamb, is it worth the risk to move back?”
- “Woohoo! Please happen!”
For this matter, I think it’s better not to necessarily look at the player selected but more to weigh the pros and cons of the IDEA of trading down should a partner open up.
The Cardinals pick up essentially what they gave to the Raiders in 2018 for Josh Rosen, recouping those assets, in a way. While they might be a “sunk cost” given that draft came and went, the team could use more pieces.
And with the way this board fell, if Arizona wanted a wide receiver, one (two with Jeudy there) fell into their laps, and they also add another 3rd round pick to spend on a position of want or need. Add in the fact that Arizona SPENT their 2020 5th round picks on Jalen Thompson and then will surrender the latter due to the Kenyan Drake trade with the same team.
That pick might be pretty valuable to have when you look at how teams trade draft picks on day 3 for veteran players all the time and it “fills a hole” in Arizona’s current draft strategy as they’ll go a LONG time without making a pick.
As for the selection itself, you get a player that makes a lot of sense at an even more valuable rate—it’s not just Lamb (or if it were Wirfs, etc.) but Lamb + 2 players.
We saw this previously with the Cardinals in 2014 when they reportedly had their board of prospects picked clean as C.J. Moseley, Ja’Wuan James, Zack Martin, Ryan Shazier and others went ahead of them. The team liked Bucannon, and added another 3rd round pick in a trade back with which they took...John Brown.
Big win in that draft given their production, eh?
Arizona’s working through a rebuild so a trade back may make sense here.
The most obvious con is this:
Teams trade up to guarantee themselves a player. They trade down when said player(s) aren’t there.
Going back to that 2014 draft—the Cardinals in part also traded down BECAUSE the players they looked at and wanted weren’t there. Teams don’t always just trade down to trade down.
They have a plan and a list of needs, and the Cardinals as we saw are no different. In 2015, we saw something similar with pass rushers Bud Dupree and Shane Ray (who the Broncos traded up ahead of the Cardinals for) go before they took D.J. Humphries.
The team still needed and wanted an edge player. But they also needed a running back.
Arians reportedly loved Ameer Abdullah before the draft and we saw how disappointed the team was in All Or Nothing when the Lions jumped them for him. So the team traded back (see the pattern?) with the Ravens who took (ironically) future Cardinal TE Maxx Williams with their pick and they added their edge rusher in Markus Golden, and later took David Johnson.
The idea of “best player available” usually doesn’t apply to the draft.
Best FIT available does. And that limits you in each round and each selection to a smaller number of players that fit you, what you’re looking for in both on-field and off-field and where you’ll value players. AZ valued D.J. Humphries enough to not trade back, didn’t value the pass rushers enough to trade up and didn’t value Bucannon (or maybe other players) enough to stay put at 20.
Remember it’s the draft—hindsight for ANY picks can be 20/20.
What it does say, however about how teams view the draft (or at least the Cards under Keim)?
It says that if Arizona has a player they want on the board, they should NOT trade back and try to get them later, because they might not be there.
And what’s different in this iteration of the Cardinals vs. other teams is that they have a top 10 pick. NOT the #1 pick like last year where they could simply take the best player in each round...and we saw that play out in a unique way with them seeing Byron Murphy, a top 5 player on their board, there in the 2nd round.
They had trade offers but didn’t move down because...they valued him highly, obviously.
So that means something pretty simply as the biggest “con” for moving down and it’s that the Cardinals will be picking 8th, and in this mock we saw 3 QB’s go in the top 7 picks.
Guaranteeing them a top 5 talent on their draft board.
The counter argument to trading back is looking at a risky juncture of having a player that good and/or the player you want being there because you’re not likely to have your “board picked clean” with a pick this high and in a draft with this much talent pushed down with quarterback-needy teams.
While you could argue you still could grab one of those players and benefit...the opposite is true as well. And the team might just be content to stay put if a player like Lamb or Wirfs, etc. that they covet, is there. Asking for more than that and getting greedy’s a good way to miss out if the value of a top 5 talent is considered somehow “less” than adding a mere 3rd and 5th round pick, comparatively
So what are your thoughts?
Should AZ consider a trade down if the opportunity arises? Or stay put and grab more of a guarantee that falls to them?
Sound off in the comments!
And be sure to follow @dpbrugler on Twitter if you don’t or check out a subscription to The Athletic if you want to see the rest of his first round mock.