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Five first-round targets for the Cardinals in a potential trade down

Denver Broncos are interested in trading up to the Cardinals’ No. 8 pick, according to The Gazette’s Woody Paige

Big 12 Football Championship - Baylor v Oklahoma Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

There are many directions the Arizona Cardinals can go in with their No. 8 overall pick.

They could stay where they are and still have a good number of elite prospects to choose from. The Cardinals could get their hands on one of the top four offensive tackles or one of the top three wide receivers in this draft class.

There is also a possibility of a trade back so that the Cardinals can recoup a second-round pick. They currently only have one day two pick.

According to Woody Paige, a columnist on The Gazette, the Denver Broncos are eyeing a move up to the eighth or 10th pick to get Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

The Broncos own the No. 15 overall pick in this year’s draft and they are in search of a receiver to pair up with Courtland Sutton. The Jets, Raiders, and 49ers are the teams above the Broncos that are expected to select a receiver.

I am also hearing that the Atlanta Falcons, who own the No. 16 overall pick, are exploring a trade up as well to pick either a cornerback or one of the top two defensive tackle prospects.

If the Cardinals agree to trade down with one of them, who would Steve Keim target in the middle of the first round?

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

K’Lavon Chaisson - EDGE, LSU (6-3 254lbs)

Date of Birth: July 25, 1999 (Age: 20)

Career Stats (24 games): 92 tackles, 19 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble

Thoughts: If it wasn’t for Chaisson’s torn ACL in 2018, he would have been considered a top 10 prospect in this year’s draft. He is still underdeveloped as a pass rusher but has shown flashes of his potential, starting all 13 games in 2019 and setting a career-high in sacks (6.5). I am not too concerned with his supposed liability against the run, which is an area where he should improve at with more playing time. His athletic ability but also only one year of good production makes him a high-risk, high-reward prospect to take in the middle of the first round. He can learn a lot behind Chandler Jones and Devon Kennard.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Houston at UConn Photo by Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Josh Jones - Offensive Tackle, Houston (6-5 319lbs)

Date of Birth: June 21, 1997 (Age: 22)

Thoughts: The Cardinals had a virtual meeting with Jones earlier this month. He started 45 games at left tackle in his four years with the Cougars. In 325 pass-block snaps, he allowed only two pressures and one sack. He certainly dominated his level of competition and is a projected first-round pick for a reason. My only concern with him is his lack of versatility. He would have to play right tackle for the Cardinals, with the team having re-signed left tackle D.J. Humphries to a three-year deal. Jones has no experience playing on the right side and it is a difficult transition as it is. He would not have to play right away but the bust potential is high, especially playing him out of position.


Kenneth Murray - Linebacker, Oklahoma (6-2 241lbs)

Date of Birth: November 16, 1998 (Age: 21)

Career Stats (40 games): 325 tackles, 36.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 6 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble

Thoughts: Murray is a great inside blitzer who dominates in stuffing the run. Not sure if he is the best linebacker to assign to cover tight ends but he performed admirably as a three-down linebacker at Oklahoma. He is like a heat-seeking missile in his highlight reel.

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Patrick Queen - Linebacker, LSU (6-0 229lbs)

Date of Birth: August 13, 1999 (Age: 20)

Career Stats (29 games): 131 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 interception

Thoughts: Queen will have to prove to any team that drafts him that he is not a one-year wonder. He flashed a lot in his final season at LSU in blitz packages, against the run, and in pass coverage. Comparing Queen to Murray, the LSU linebacker has the edge in the coverage department. If the Cardinals take him, he would not have to start immediately with Jordan Hicks and De’Vondre Campbell entrenched as the starters. Would hate for the Cardinals to draft him only to end up like Haason Reddick.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Michigan at Penn State Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cesar Ruiz - Center/Guard, Michigan (6-3 307lbs)

Date of Birth: June 14, 1999 (Age: 20)

Thoughts: Ruiz has been projected to go in the bottom of the first round or the top of the second round but hear me out. He is the top interior offensive lineman, excluding Tristan Wirfs, in the 2020 draft. He is not a Quenton Nelson but a player that was solid in both pass and run blocking for the Michigan Timberwolves. The Cardinals want to get more athletic up front and Ruiz fits the profile, running a 5.08 40-yard dash at the Combine. He also possesses the necessary strength (28 bench reps) to hold up against anyone. He can compete with J.R. Sweezy for the starting right guard job and should be a quality starter for the next decade.

There is a chance for one of the top offensive tackle and/or wide receiver prospects to slip to the middle of the first round but it is slim at best. I honestly do not believe Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson will be available there and will be taken earlier than expected. To get more draft picks is always good but at the expense of missing out on a safe and potentially elite player might not be worth it.

The 2020 NFL Draft will happen this Thursday, April 23rd at 8 p.m. eastern time.

Will Steve Keim still be able to land one of his identified blue chip prospects if they traded down? Could any of the prospects listed above be some of those players?

Could CeeDee Lamb or Jedrick Wills actually be the top targets for the Cardinals?

Will Keim draft a player that no one expected them to take or be available at their spot?

We will all find out soon enough.