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Where we stand after the first week of free agency for the Arizona Cardinals

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Here’s what we know and what we are hearing moving forward

Los Angeles Rams v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Happy Saturday one and all.

The Arizona Cardinals and the rest of the NFL have been hot and heavy in free agency, creating a whirlwind of changes.

Here is some of the things we know and what we are hearing moving forward.

  1. The Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans basically had an outline of a deal in place for DeAndre Hopkins two weeks ago per Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro. We had heard about a possibility of the Cards pursuing Hopkins a week ago (3/14) but it is one of those things that when you hear it you don’t see any reality in it so you move along. Imagine someone a week ago telling you the Cardinals were trading for DeAndre Hopkins, you’d assume it would be for a 1st and more. If you heard David Johnson was involved (which I did not hear in full disclosure) you’d assume they were eating half of that contract at least. This was so far-fetched it didn’t pass the sniff test.
  2. Tony Pauline can take the weight of this one, but so many have pushed back on the idea of the Cardinals looking at wide receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft but there is something you’ve missed - “From the Arizona point of view, this trade could spell the end of Hakeem Butler’s short career with the franchise. Last fall I was told the team was not happy with their fourth-round pick from the 2019 draft and the Cardinals were relieved they had to place him on injured reserve rather than face the embarrassment of cutting him before the regular season. I heard further confirmation of this during the Scouting Combine three weeks ago.”
  3. One thing that needs to be understood is that the Cardinals were focused on getting a wide receiver this offseason. It was maybe the most important thing and the easiest route seemed to be the 2020 NFL Draft. When people look at last years draft you have to understand that you can’t bet or pass on someone on the hope that people develop. Look at the 49ers from 2015-2019, they drafted Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and Nick Bosa all in that time-frame. Receivers are similar to defensive line in that each serves a different purpose and role. The Cardinals needed an “X” receiver desperately; now they don’t.
  4. The Cardinals are still looking to add likely a few more positions, first and foremost being re-signing TE Charles Clay. Also with role players like Pharoh Cooper leaving the team for the Carolina Panthers and Damiere Byrd for the Patriots, you’d expect they could attempt to either sign a new kick/punt returner or let Christian Kirk or Andy Isabella take over in the return game.
  5. Speaking of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cardinals did what they set out to do this offseason - make the draft a complete open book. The Cards have freedom they did not have at the beginning of the offseason and now they will be able to sit and look at each position as equal need. The work is ongoing and things are a bit different with so much personnel out of the office, so info is going to be a bit more difficult to come by so I’ll go off what I know pre-free agency and how things have gone in the past.

Let’s get what is MY OPINION of what the Cardinals board may look like if they stay at eight.

Top Tier - The two best players in the 2020 NFL Draft that would be the pick if at all possible

  • Chase Young
  • Jeffrey Okudah

Impact Starters - The next tier of players, all will fight for time, but they may not be the cream of the crop out of the overall prospects. I have some interesting nuggets on Simmons that I will continue to work on.

  • CeeDee Lamb
  • Tristan Wirfs
  • Jedrick Wills Jr.
  • Isaiah Simmons
  • Henry Ruggs III
  • Jerry Jeudy
  • Derrick Brown

That’s the hard part of this group, you have a number of talented players, but everyone has there issues. Lamb and Ruggs may not be needs anymore, Jeudy profiles as a slot receiver.

Wirfs is the guy that seems to check all of the Cards boxes the most. Longtime college starter with high end production, massive athletic testing numbers.

Wills profiles similar to Wirfs, I have talked to people (outside of AZ) I trust that have higher film grades on Wills, but his testing compared to an athletic freak Wirfs or even Mekhi Becton is going to be interesting to watch for AZ purposes.

Brown is the one I cannot get behind from a production and testing standpoint. He profiles as a Linval Joseph type. Which is dominant against the run, but are they really taking a Dan Williams at 8? Someone sent me something that makes sense though when it comes to much of the Cards staff (I’ll paraphrase) - Keim has been a scout for over 20 years, he still has similar ideals from 20 years ago about offensive and defensive line and running backs. It did strike a chord with me, especially the line thing.

Simmons is going at either four or seven from everyone I’ve spoken with, which may be best for him. James Bettcher understands how to utilize talent like Simmons a bit more than Vance Joseph does. Simmons is the ultimate chess piece, Derwin James/Kam Chancellor type. The fear is Joseph will pigeon hole him into an inside backer and that would be that.

Finally, I am really disappointed that there is no workouts or visits because one player I wanted to get as much information on as possible was Javon Kinlaw. If the Cardinals wanted to take an interior defensive player in the top ten, Kinlaw seemed like the best option as a push the pocket, 80% snaps type. I don’t see how with the virus and Kinlaw’s inability to workout and meet with teams in person to check on his injuries that they can take him in the top ten.

The only other possibility...a trade back? Perhaps, but for now it’s hard to see and there’s way too many variables there but the Cards could use a 2nd round pick. Time will tell as we get closer to the draft, assuming that

Enjoy your Saturday everyone.