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Cardinals’ 8-12 Blue Chip Prospects: A Guess

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 FAU at Ohio State Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Steve Keim informed us that he believes there are 8-12 blue chip prospects at the top of this year’s draft.

Assuming Keim is not including the top rated QBs, I am going to take a guess at the Cardinals’ Top 12 (with my own player comps) and what Keim’s decisions with the #8 pick might be (with one of my own trade down scenarios).

I mean why the frig not, right? At the very least for the sake of shiggs and gittles.

1. Chase Young, DE, Ohio St. (Lawrence Taylor)

2. Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio St. (Aeneas Williams)

3. Isaiah Simmons, S/LB, Clemson (a taller Troy Polamalu)

4. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn (Fletcher Cox)

5. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma (Michael Thomas)

6. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama (Marvin Harrison---agree with Mel Kiper)

7. Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama (DeSean Jackson)

8. Jedrick Wills, T, Alabama (Duane Brown)

9. Tristan Wirfs, T/G, Iowa, (Brandon Brooks)

10. K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, LSU (Aldon Smith)

11. Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma (Roquan Smith)

12. Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina (Michael Bennett)

If this board is fairly accurate, then the first question is, where do we draw the line between “hard to pass up at #8” and “can afford to move down from #8 to add another pick or two”?

Hard to Pass Up at #8:

1. Chase Young-—it’s a moot point because the Cardinals do not have the draft capital this year to move up to #2, unless they offered the #8 pick plus their 1st round picks in 2021 and 2022---and even that might not tempt the Redskins.

2. Jeffrey Okudah---with Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford heading into their early 30s, adding Okudah would be perfect timing. Not only is he as sticky a cover CB as they come, he brings a tackling passion and prowess that the Cardinals currently lack at CB, save perhaps for Byron Murphy and Chris Jones.

3. Isaiah Simmons---the traditional way to cover TEs in the NFL is not with an inside linebacker, it’s with a strong safety. Simmons would immediately turn the defense’s biggest weakness into a potential strength. Sticky coverage is just one aspect of Simmons’ prodigious tool kit, as by now, we all know.

4. Derrick Brown-—he is in a DT class all his own in this draft. It is very rare to find a DT of his size who puts forth the kind of maximum effort that he gives on every snap. He repeatedly wears down his opponent week after week and he is one of the rare full-time DTs who gets stronger as the game goes on. Brown is a man amongst boys in this draft and could help turn the Cardinals’ defensive interior into a budding juggernaut.

5. CeeDee Lamb---like there aforementioned players, when it comes to playmaking at the WR position and, in his case his insane RAC ability, Lamb has no peers in this draft. There are very good reasons why a number of teams are salivating to move up to try to snag him.

6. Henry Ruggs-—he too is in a class all his own in this draft when it comes to his ability to offer an elite combination of speed, ball tracking and naturally soft, Venus fly-trap hands.

7. Jedrick Wills---this young man, as Brett Kolmann showed us, is an all-out clinician at the right tackle position. In terms of every aspect of right tackle play, Wills is outstanding. I think he’s the most NFL ready RT I have ever seen on college game tapes.

8. Tristan Wirfs-—if the Cardinals, Kliff Kingsbury and Sean Kugler project him at guard, Wirfs is an instant upgrade to the starting five. Depending on what talent the Cardinals add at guard over the next couple of years, Wirfs, at some point can be moved to tackle (either LT or RT depending on the need), but his most natural fit as a rookie would be at guard.

This might be just me---but I would be reluctant to pass on any of these players at #8. To me, each one of these players brings something special to the team and its culture.

If the Cardinals trade down past #14, imo, all of these players most likely will be off the board.

There is only one other scenario that would tempt me otherwise.

Like Daniel Jeremiah revealed on NFL Network, every scout in the Ravens’ organization, while he was there, was asked by GM Ozzie Newsome to place a “red star” next to two players’ names on the draft board.

It’s no wonder why the Ravens draft so well, year in and year out. They identify and focus in on “red star” players who fit their system and culture to a tee.

My two “red star” players in this draft are (assuming we won’t be able to draft Isaiah Simmons):

Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU

If the Cardinals trade down from #8 far enough to acquire an early Round 2 pick, then there is a very good chance they could come away with both Chinn and Edwards-Helaire.

Here are the Combine numbers on Simmons and Chinn:

Simmons: 6-4, 238, 33 3/8” arms, 9 5/8” hands, 4.39 40, 39” VJ, 132” BJ

Chinn: 6-3, 221, 32 1/8” arms, 9 5/8” hands, 4.45 40, 41” VJ, 138” BJ

(plus Chinn did an impressive 20 reps at 225---Simmons didn’t lift).

When one studies Chinn on tape, like Simmons, he pops off the screen in all aspects of his responsibilities: tackling, blitzing, tight man coverage, zone coverage angles, ballhawking, sheer quickness to the football.

Had Jeremy Chinn played in one of the power 5 conferences, he would have a top 10 grade in this draft. He is the kind of versatile, multi-purpose defenders that teams covet.

This is why---if we can’t get our hands on Simmons---maybe we should go and get our hands on Chinn. This kid blankets and closes off tight ends like chocolate dip on fro-yo.

Then---by adding an early 2nd rounder, Clyde Edwards-Hilaire matched with Kyler Murray would be a virtually impossible backfield tandem to try to defend. There are tangible reasons why QB Joe Burrow called Edwards-Helaire his “best and toughest teammate” EVER. Not just at LSU, but at Ohio St. too.

Like Isaiah Simmons and Jeremy Chinn, Clyde Edwards-Helaire handles every aspect of his responsibilities with exemplary aplomb. Despite his diminutive size, Edwards-Helaire is tough to locate, tackle and bring down because of how shifty and surprisingly strong he is, plus he’s got an amazing spin move where he swiftly corkscrews his way out of tackles and into the end zone.

Add to that---he is a prolific receiver and pass protector. If there is one RB in this draft who is made to order more so than any other for the K-Raid, he is Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

So, yes, if the scenario warranted it, I would be very tempted to trade down with the express purpose of drafting Jeremy Chinn and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

If we acquire an early to mid Round 2 pick, there is a risk of losing out on Edwards-Helaire to the late portion of Round 1 or in the first few picks in Round 2. But if that is the case, then I have similar grades on J.K. Dobbins (Ohio St.), Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin) and D’Andre Smith (Georgia), thus I would feel confident that at least one of them would be on the board in the first 15 picks of the 2nd round. if not, we still will get a very good player at another position.

In Round 3, at pick #72, I think that is a premier spot for one of top offensive line prospects: G Damien Lewis (LSU), G/T Robert Hunt (Louisiana Tech), G Netane Muti (Fresno St.), T Lucas Niang (TCU), Prince Tega Wanogho (Auburn) or G Shane Lemiuex (Oregon)---which is why I would like to see the Cardinals snag a RB in Round 2, so that they won’t have to be tempted to take one in Round 3.

In Round 4 at pick #114, this is a good spot to take an interior defensive lineman such as Leki Fotu (Utah), Robert Windsor (Penn St.), Rashard Lawrence (LSU), James Lynch (Baylor), Jordan Elliott (Missouri), McTelvin Agim (Arkansas) or Larrell Murchison (North Carolina St.)

In Round 4, at pick #131, I think that this is a good spot to take an edge OLB/DE like Jonathan Greenard (Florida), Anfernee Jennings (Alabama), Alex Highsmith (Charlotte), Casey Toohill (Stanford), Willie Gay (Mississippi St.), Kenny Willkes or Carter Coughlin (Minnesota).

In Round 6, at pick #202, I think the Cardinals would be delighted to one of these see special teams aces on the board: S Aloha Gilman (Notre Dame), CB Reggie Robertson (Tulsa), RB Levante Bellamy (Western Michigan) or S Geno Stone (Iowa).

In Round 7 at pick #222, I have a hunch that the Cardinals will take CB Myles Bryant (Washington) at this spot and continue its run on Huskies’ DBs! If the Cardinals spring a draft trade with the Eagles, I would love to see CB Sydney Jones be part of the package. The group would look like this: CB Byron Murphy, SS Zeke Turner, FS Budda Baker and CB Sydney Jones with CB Myles Bryant as the nickel.

I think that what happens with the top 3-4 QB prospects in this draft is what is going to impact the Cardinals choices at #8. If 3 QBs are taken in the top 5 picks and 1 tackle is taken, then the Cardinals will see one of the top 4 defensive players in the draft at pick #8.

However, if Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert is still on the board at #8, then Cardinals might get an offer for #8 that could be too hefty a draft haul to pass up.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

If the Cardinals take any of the 8 “hard to pass up at #8” players (and/or my 2 “red stars”) I highlighted, I will be happy. Will you?

Just a hunch: some team is going to trade up to #7 to take a QB or WR CeeDee Lamb.