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Cards Geaux With Tigers

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College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

As we have been discussing, there are very good arguments for the Cardinals to take WR CeeDee Lamb or one of the top tackles such as Jedrick Wills or Tristan Wirfs with the #8 pick. Then, many wonder, and rightfully so, what the Cardinals should do if highly touted CB Jeffrey Okudah, S Isaiah Simmons or DT Derrick Brown were still on the board at #8.

However, there is one potential superstar prospect in this year’s draft whom we haven’t talked much about yet, and maybe it’s about time we added him to the conversation.

If there is one player in the 2020 NFL Draft who many teams may regret passing on he is LSU’s edge stick of dynamite, K’Lavon Chaisson (6-4, 249).

If you watched LSU’s convincing win over 13-0 defending champion Clemson, K’Lavon Chaisson wreaked havoc in Clemson’s backfield to the point where more times than not it knocked QB Trevor Lawrence completely out of sync.

Without Chaisson’s lightning quick pressure off the edge, LSU might not have won that game. On many plays, he single-handedly sent the Clemson offense into panic mode, the likes of which we have not seen in the two years that Trevor Lawrence has been the QB.

One of the hardest things to do as a draft scout is how a prospect’s college game is going to project in the NFL. In the case of K’Lavon Chaisson, there is no doubt that his freakish combination of quickness, speed and power off the edge is elite and extremely rare to find from a college player.

Take a look at what Dan Schmelzer of NFLMocks has to say:

https://nflmocks.com/2020/02/16/2020-nfl-draft-klavon-chaisson-top-10/

Now—-as enamored as I am with WR CeeDee Lamb, T Jedrick Wills, CB Jeffrey Okudah and S Isaiah Simmons—-I think the impact of having K’Lavon Chaisson rushing the QB opposite Chandler Jones could transform the Cardinals’ defense in ways we have yet to imagine.

Vance Joseph has made it clear that his defense is predicated first and foremost by having two stud booked pass rushers and two aggressive cover CBs.

Joseph right now believes he has 3 of the 4 in edge rusher Chandler Jones and cover CBs Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford.

The UFA edge pass rushers all come with lofty price tags—-and when one compares Shaq Barrett’s physical abilities with K’Lavon Chaisson, which player has the greater upside?

Some will ask, yeah, but what if Isaiah Simmons is on the board at #8? As great as Simmons is, to be able to add an elite edge rusher like Chaisson could do far more to elevate the defense.

The other thing is—-there are two other good sized cover safeties in this draft in Kyle Dugger and Jeremy Chinn who would be a 3rd round bargain at #72. I am going to profile the two of them sometime soon, but of the two I am leaning toward Jeremy Chinn, but whether one of those safeties would be just what the Cardinals need in their quest to cover TEs.

What about trading down and still taking Chaisson?

As Dan Schmelzer suggests—-I would bet that Chaisson is a topic on conversation for every team in the top 10 that is not drafting Chase Young or a QB. Thus, if Chaisson makes it to #8, I would stand pat and take him right there. It’s a rare day when you have the chance to draft this kind of elite athlete at such a critical position on your defense.

Let me take the argument a step further—-I don’t know about you, but I am so fed up with seeing the Cardinals’ defense lose contain time and time again—-not only to Russell Wilson, who has exploited the Cardinals’ lack of contain for years—-but for Jared Goff to be bootlegging, waggling and sprinting around the Cardinals contain with such ease—-this has got to stop. Adding an elite athlete on the edge, aids and abets that cause. It would be a sheer pleasure to watch the Cardinals harass Wilson, Goff and Garoppolo the way Chaisson harassed Trevor Lawrence, Jalen Hurts and every QB in the SEC.

Furthermore, one cannot ignore how fired up Patrick Peterson would be to see the Cardinals tap into the enormous LSU Tiger talent pool. You know, not only does everyone recognize K’Lavon Chaisson’s rare talent, but Chaisson was given the Tiger’s prestigious #18 jersey, awarded each year to the player who manifests exemplary character on and off the football field.

Therefore, if the Cardinals want to give Vance Joseph his best chance to turn his Cardinals defense from a liability into a strength, then go ahead an give him the Cardinals’ version of Von Miller as the ideal compliment to Chandler Jones.

Building Up the Defense:

UFA Signings:

Starters: DE Derek Wolfe (Broncos), WILB Nick Kwiatowski (Bears)

Depth: 34DE Rodney Gunter, DT Zach Kerr, 34DE Nick Williams (Bears), LB Joe Walker

Draft:

Round 1: K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB/DE, LSU

Round 3: Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois

Round 7: Bryce Sterk, OLB/DE, Montana St.

Analysis:

  • DE Derek Wolfe is made to order as a 34 DE who is stout versus the run and has a penchant for pressuring QBs in the base defense as well as from the interior on passing downs.
  • WILB Nick Kwaitowski is coming off a breakthrough season where he graded well in every defensive category, from stopping the run to applying good pass coverage in man and zone.
  • 34DE/DT Nick Williams is, imo, one of the prize lower level UFAs in the 2020 pool. Re-signing 34DE Rodner Gunter and DT Zach Kerr gives the Cardinals good rational depth to go with Derek Wolfe, Zach Allen, Michael Dogbe and Miles Brown.
  • S Jeremy Chinn has the length, speed and athleticism to be a stick cover safety versus TEs and RBs. He reacts quickly when the ball is in the air and he has exceptional closing speed in breaking up passes or creating interceptions.
  • OLB/DE Bryce Sterk is a University of Washington transfer to Montana St. where he was the leading sack master (15 this season) in the Mountain West.

Adding Key Pieces to Offense:

UFA Signings:

Starter: WR Breshad Perriman (Bucs), TE Eric Ebron (Colts)

Depth: QB Brett Hundley, RB DeAndre Washington (Raiders), RT Marcus Gilbert (to compete with Justin Murray)

Draft:

Round 2: Lloyd Cushenberry, C/G, LSU

Round 4: Saahdiq Charles, T, LSU

Round 6: Isaiah Wright, WR/RB, Temple

Analysis:

  • WR Breshad Perriman has found his confidence and big play ability and brings an attractive combination of size, speed and hands.
  • TE Eric Ebron is a fluid and highly athletic receiver in the open field and the red zone.
  • RB DeAndre Washington is a superb fit in the K-Raid and could form a prolific RB trio with David Johnson and Chase Edmonds.
  • Re-signing QB Brett Hundley and T Marcus Gilbert are good, wise insurance moves.
  • C/G Lloyd Cushenberry, like K’Lavon Chaisson, received the prestigious #18 jersey as the LSU player who exemplifies the ultimate Tiger on and off the field. He was the mainstay up front for the Tigers’ explosive offense.
  • T Saahdiq Charles is, imo, one of the most underrated players in this years draft. He excels in pass protection, particularly versus speed rushers. He needs to add some lower body strength which will help him to refine his run blocking techniques and be better prepared to neutralize bull rushers. He could provide valuable insurance, should D.J. Humphries miss any games due to injury. Plus, he could find himself in the mix at RT.
  • WR/RB Isaiah Wright is an all-purpose playmaker who has excellent ball skills and quick feet. He also excels as a return man.

Poposed Cardinals UFA Signings:

Proposed Selections for Cardinals’ 2020 Draft:

#8:

#40:

#72:

114:

#202:

#222:

I was tempted to included WR Amari Cooper as a UFA signing, but word is that he and the Cowboys are working diligently on completing a new deal. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Cardinals made a pitch for Cooper, if he hits the market.

The other interesting rumor is that the Texans may be listening to trade offers for WR DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins is 27 and he has 3 years and $40M left on his contract. The rumor has the Cardinals giving up their #40 and #114 picks (2nd and 4th rounders). If that were the case—-one would then expect the Cardinals to trade down from #8 in order to pick up an extra couple of picks, perhaps a 2nd and 4th or a 3rd and a 5th.

Trading down within 3-5 spots or so in order to acquire WR DeAndre Hopkins—-and the odds are the Cardinals could still possibly draft OLB K’Lavon Chaisson or one of the top 4 tackles Jedrick Wills, T Tristan Wirfs, Andrew Thomas or Mekhi Becton.

I think the Cardinals can afford one high priced free agent (by spreading out the signing bonus)—-and in this proposal none of the free agent signings I have proposed would be in the double figure a year salary range—-so essentially I left the door ajar in the event that Amari Cooper or one of the stud defensive tackles such as Javon Hargrave or D.J. Reader becomes an option—-or—-a potential trade offer for 34DE Chris Jones.

I think it is a good thing to be enamored with so many players #8—-each of them in their own way makes an excellent case. Currently my favorite three are (alphabetically—-because I would be delighted if the Cardinals took any of the three): OLB K’Lavon Chaisson, WR CeeDee Lamb and T Jedrick Wills.