It’s crazy to think that the NFL Draft, amidst the entire coronavirus crisis that’s swept the globe, is just two weeks away.
It remains to be seen if this will be one of the last bits of NFL news in a long time or if it will simply be business as usual, but without draft visits the Cardinals have still been busy with rumors flying.
That said, there’s something called “Lying Season” and it happens every year up from the Combine up until around 48 hours or so before the draft begins where fake rumors fly and teams meet with prospects, not just sometimes because they want to draft a prospect but rather...because they want to rule OUT a player or get info for a guy who might be heading to a team rival.
Yep, instead of draft prospect meetings we’ve seen “virtual draft prospect meetings”...which isn’t too different.
What’s real and what’s fake? Soooo...let’s take a gander at some of the big names that stand out:
BUY-Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Several big names have mentioned Brown as a possibility for the Cardinals, with Matt Miller on his latest podcast, Peter Schrager on NFL Network and more.
And these aren’t “they have interest” rumors so much as people saying “he’s the guy”. Now, it’s worth taking this with a grain of salt when it’s still a ways before the draft, but this thought sticks in my mind:
Was just told Phillips profiles more as a penetrating defensive end rather than a space eating nose tackle. If Cardinals move him outside, Derrick Brown obviously still in play— scott bordow (@sbordow) March 17, 2020
The fact that AZ almost immediately after Jordan Phillips was signed put out some info that left Brown still in play should let people know he has some fans inside the organization at least, and with a need for defensive penetration up the middle, I’m buying this rumor.
PUSH—Isaiah Simmons, LB/S
Simmons is fascinating as he hasn’t popped up in hardly ANY rumors for the Cardinals, with mock drafts either having him go ahead or him going 1-2 picks behind them to the Jags or Browns.
It seems that some of it’s quieted down since they signed Devondre Campbell, so it might not be seen by Arizona as a position of value. But with his athleticism, versatility and competitiveness, have to think he’s in the range for Arizona. Still, it’s a push as there’s been next to no noise about him.
Maybe that’s because the team’s not expecting him to fall but hopes he will. Or maybe it’s for no reason at all. Still, I expect he’ll be considered.
BUY-Zack Moss, RB, Utah
There’s a few reasons to buy this w/ Moss.
- He’s Pro Football Focus’s #1 Running back
- The Cardinals have already met with him and had him on a call with their running backs coach
- They requested a private workout as well with him even after all that...whew
The Cardinals have been doing their due diligence on former Utah running back Zack Moss, the Pac 12 offensive player of the year, a source told me. He’s already had a FaceTime call with running backs coach James Saxon.— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) March 31, 2020
Moss had 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns last year and recently was cleared medically at the combine by his doctors, though he ran only a 4.6 40 yard dash and was clearly working out hurt at the Combine.
This is a prospect I’ll buy for a few reasons. The biggest being...AZ doesn’t have a 2nd round pick and Moss isn’t a top 5 running back in this class. BUT he is #6 for many and while he isn’t as flashy as Jonathan Taylor or Clyde Edwards-Helaire he’s consistent and steady. With a 1 year transition tag for Kenyan Drake a rookie is much much cheaper for a long-term solution. And in a year where the Cardinals are in position along with a bunch of other teams in an unusual situation, it wouldn’t shock me at all if he’s there at pick 72 if the Cardinals potentially take him.
For me? I wonder if there’s too many injury question marks and if there won’t be another, better top 5 running back who might fall given that there’s a chance zero RB’s go in the top 32 picks. Still, it seems unlikely Arizona’s gone this far to simply rule him out.
SELL-Ezra Cleveland & Josh Jones, OT
The Cardinals reportedly met with both of these tackles and that’s fascinating as they’re supposed to go after Arizona picks. And unlike last year where the Cardinals met with Byron Murphy and he fell to the 2nd round, Arizona has no 2nd round pick after the DeAndre Hopkins trade. That said...
It’s hard not to get excited about the Cardinals potentially trading back from pick #8, adding a 2nd round pick and then adding protection for Kyler Murray.
That said...the problem is how far BACK Arizona would have to go. They’d be looking potentially at a dip into the 20’s for a trade like this for Cleveland, and for Josh Jones they’d need to see 4 tackles go before he would be selected. If they move back between 10-17...that’s not likely to happen. I don’t think they end up as Cardinals, but maybe I’ll be wrong. I think rather, more likely Arizona’d simply take a tackle at 8 rather than try to take a lesser talent later in the draft to man the right side of the line.
BUY-Tristan Wirfs, OT
Wirfs is an athletic, tough-nosed run blocker at tackle and while not refined in pass protection, is an incredible athlete. Steve Keim LOVES versatile offensive linemen and he’s got the ability to play on the right, left or even at guard.
The one question is...will he be there when they pick at 8?
PUSH-Jedrick Wills, OT
It’s hard to rule a guy like Wills out. He has the best tape of any of this year’s class of offensive linemen. But he’s also ranked behind Wirfs for likely two reasons. 1. He’s more of a right tackle only (never played on the left side) and secondly, he might be limited there and not have as high of a ceiling. Some are concerned about a potential “learning” issue but I’m not.
The reason I’m questioning it is more due to the fact that there’s likely going to be a defensive player who falls should Tristan Wirfs be taken ahead of the Cardinals’ selection. And if that’s indeed the case, then I don’t think AZ takes Wills over one of them.
Also in two years’ time, D.J. Humphries will look to be hitting the free agent market again and with experience at left tackle, a Wirfs might be able to shift over and man that spot cheaply for the Cards. Wills doesn’t seem like he has that up his alley right now, but it’s still definitely not enough to rule him out for the Cards. He’ll be in play...how much remains to be seen.
PUSH—CeeDee Lamb, WR
There’s one reason Lamb’s still being mentioned as a possibility for the Cardinals: Kyler Murray.
Well, and the 37 year old Larry Fitzgerald and lack of a step forward from Christian Kirk in year two. So two reasons. His connection with Kyler Murray, and Kliff Kingsbury’s fit for inside and outside receivers means they still need one outside.
So three reasons in the end.
It’s not a move that wins in the short-term but rather a long-term move even though it doesn’t make sense compared to other needs. I personally think what should happen is Arizona adds to their offensive line. But the fact that it hasn’t been ruled out yet, maybe, isn’t because the Cardinals think Fitzgerald will hang it up. But rather because...if the Cardinals have to pay DeAndre Hopkins and paid $11 million to Larry Fitzgerald...will they be able to pay that same amount to Fitz next year? They won’t NEED to like they did before the trade.
BUT....is it wise or foolhardy to invest so much into wide receivers and then not have another pick for 64 more selections? Two whole rounds before adding a talent to the team that’s not already got some promise with Kirk? It’s tough to see.
But as local AZ insider John Gambadoro and other national names like Benjamin Allbright haven’t been able to rule out Lamb as a selection at 8, we can’t either.
Will the Cards want to pay Fitz that money? And will Larry want to play or play for less? Even though it doesn’t make sense as far immediately as team-building goes, I’m leaving this as a “push” for now.
SELL-Jerry Jeudy, WR, Bama
The Cardinals met with Jeudy at the combine. And there’s been questions about if/how they will handle their board and the wide receiver position this year. Given how Jeudy’s played sooo much in the slot during his time in Alabama, he profiles a bit like a Stefon Diggs, a guy who can line up all over but can do some major damage inside where he can release and get separation and space.
He’s not much of an “X” receiver, but the Cardinals don’t need that as much with the signing of DeAndre Hopkins. So why am I selling this rumor?
Well, AZ has Kirk as an outside/inside guy but he’s best in the slot, and then Andy Isabella was a 2nd round pick. Plus there’s some dude who wears #11 who’s still in the mix. Even if Larry Legend retires, there’s not a lot of space to add a guy inside, so I’d sell these rumors.
SELL—Henry Ruggs, WR
There’s some fans who will disagree with this but it probably doesn’t matter and perhaps this is just my opinion but...I don’t think Arizona goes with a non-Lamb WR at 8. CeeDee’s relationship with Kyler Murray is a huge part of why the player as another WR is even being considered.
And Ruggs, let’s be honest, has some of the best speed we’ve seen in years. Speed doesn’t make a player alone, he’s got hands, can make contested catches and runs a great route tree and can score from anywhere.
So why am I selling this?
Because I think you have to accept that he’s not on the same level as a Hollywood Brown, especially in the deep game (he’s excellent on short and swing passes) and struggled to get off man coverage a lot and wasn’t the same deep threat that Jerry Jeudy showed he could be (watch the Michigan game). While he scored at an incredible rate, he ended up at times being the 4th best wide receiver on a stacked Alabama team. I think he’s more than a gadget player, but I also think that teams who want speed are at most getting a John Brown and at least are getting a Ted Ginn Jr.
Him getting hurt with his fast run at the combine was also reminiscent of John Ross’s pulling up after his combine performance broke records....and he’s been mostly broken in the NFL so far.
There’s very few 4.3 guys who go on to have decade-long careers as a dominant #1 wide receiver which is what you’re expecting from Ruggs. And while Tyreek Hill has made everyone want that next threat, I don’t think it’s worth forcing a pick if that’s the case...maybe I’m wrong but I think Arizona can find a speedster later in a deep wide receiver draft and focus on addressing other needs.
Plus, look at Arizona’s history of wide receiver play. They’ve had 1 successful speedy guy but MULTIPLE Fitzgerald types outside who are slower but are physically strong, well-rounded players who catch everything. Heck, they just traded for one of them in Hopkins.
And I don’t think that Ruggs is the surefire lock that many think especially as you don’t draft a #2 WR in the top 8. The push for him amongst media is local media driven based on their desire vs. what they’re hearing. And maybe if a team wants to trade up for Ruggs, AZ would happily oblige.
What are your thoughts?
Sound off on if you’re buying rumors or selling them in the comments section!