It might not be November, but Cardinals fans are “giving thanks” indeed.
Like a kid running to the table for a thanksgiving feast, the spread that builds the meal isn’t just a single dish.
Food groups like green beans, sweet potatoes with marshmellows, cornbread or stuffing, jello all make it to the table.
But side dishes don’t make the meal. You need protein and carbohydrates for energy.
And while I could wax poetically like others have about offensive or defensive line play being the “meat and potatoes” for an NFL team (I don’t think that’s strictly true) instead I think I’d rather talk about how the idea of a “missing piece”.
For example, every Christmas morning my family would make my grandmother on my mom’s side’s coffee cake w/ cream cheese frosting. It was tradition. Having a breakfast without it wouldn’t feel complete. The same with you, perhaps and your traditions. Likewise for having a Thanksgiving without a few particular items. Forks, knives, napkins plates are there, as we saw from last year, the Cardinals don’t have the same dormant dining set they did in the terrible 2018 season.
They found the turkey, for one, in having a reinvigorated Steve Keim & unashamed Michael Bidwill boldly hiring Kliff Kingsbury and pairing him with Kyler Murray to replace Josh Rosen.
That was your turkey for the Thanksgiving meal.
But they were still missing some parts. Ingredients that you NEEDED to complete the meal.
The mashed potatoes.
The Cardinals had three gaping holes on their team coming out of re-signing their own players such as Larry Fitzgerald and D.J. Humphries and putting a transition tag on Kenyan Drake:
- A #1 wide receiver who could take the top off
- Covering tight ends that scored 16 touchdowns and 1,600 yards on their team last season
- Upgrading at Right Tackle or providing a push more than Justin Murray and Marcus Gilbert
You could probably find ONE of those items with a first round value, perhaps two if you gave up a first round pick from 2021 to jump up in the draft.
Instead, with the trade for DeAndre Hopkins for a 2nd and David Johnson followed by snagging a falling Isaiah Simmons, the top two needed portions of the meal were complete.
Today, there was a LARGE amount of talk and hinting about the Cardinals adding a running back to pair with Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds to essentially “hedge” for the long haul, with that being Utah RB Zack Moss.
The Steve Keim of the past might have believed in the player or their board, or felt that he needed the whipped topping of a running back.
Instead, when he saw the gravy and how he could complete the meal, he and the Cardinals did what no other team had done through 72 picks and pounced on Offensive Tackle Josh Jones out of Houston.
Jones, for perspective, was the 14th ranked Pro Football Focus player on their board, the 5th offensive tackle for many and was considered a first to second round pick.
And the Cardinals took him in the 3RD ROUND. Whoa.
Feels like someone dropped off a Julia Child recipe-worthy dish at your door, for free.
Did the Cardinals get a steal? Entering the draft, there was less than a 1% chance that Josh Jones would be available at pick No. 72, according to ESPN's NFL Draft Predictor.— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) April 25, 2020
Why did Jones fall?
There’s a few narratives out there. He didn’t do the shuttle or 3-cone at the combine, that’s true, and maybe some teams would have that as a flag. Drug tests? Doubtful as that information was learned with Mekhi Becton and would have passed on as well and wasn’t featured in his collegiate career as far as missed time.
Maturity issues, maybe?
Early as an underclassman, perhaps, but he was voted a senior captain, and was considered “night and day” per Dane Brugler in that regard and was well-liked by his teammates. I think he’ll fit in very well with the Cardinals, who happen to be both a mature team due to Larry Fitzgerald and Kliff Kingsbury’s ability to work with young people, but also a youthful one.
It’s a rare combination and one that’s a great fit for a player like Jones, in my opinion. Heck, he even was teammates with fellow fashion icon (and Suns star player) Kelly Oubre Jr., close enough to welcome him to town with excitement:
So no, Josh Jones didn’t have no teammates come to his birthday party...
What about the Senior Bowl? Did he get roughed around there? During the game, arguably.
...but he was also his squad’s practice player of the week, and was praised for shutting down and baffling pass-rushers from all parts of the country, proving that his 325 pass blocks and 2 pressures wasn’t just a fluke.
Houston OT Josh Jones in 2019:— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 25, 2020
325 Pass-block snaps
2 Pressures pic.twitter.com/TJTED5CFEh
No, you read that right.
Not “sacks given up”.
Hey, I don’t know how Jones will turn out as a prospect like how I don’t the future, and nor can anyone when it comes to the NFL draft. The Cardinals’ most universally praised two picks of the last 8 years were Jonathan Cooper as a “future All-Pro” at guard and surrendering only a “3rd and a 5th” to grab Josh Rosen as the “steal of the draft”.
So I don’t know if Josh Jones is a steal.
What I do know is that the Cardinals, in the 3rd round, managed to land a player with 75 starts in college, who played in an air raid offense under Dana Holgerson, and was even recruited by Kliff Kingsbury when he was at Texas Tech along with UTEP’s own Sean Kugler, who’s his position coach now in the pros.
Heck, Kingsbury’s own former head coach was HIS collegiate coach developing him at Houston, and now Kliff gets to add another player who he swung the bat on and struck out. And maybe in that sense, he’s living a charmed sort of life and it’s even affecting his general manager in the process.
Following the nerve-wracking wait in real time of Cardinals fans hoping he would fall almost 40 picks to them was perhaps one of the most tense moments they’ve had in years at the draft. And the relief and celebration at a protector for the young quarterback was palpable, like a sigh of relief heard all across the state.
So I don’t know if Josh Jones will be the “perfect steal” of the 2020 draft.
But we can take a deep breath. On paper, the Cards’ brass did their job...it’s up to seeing everything on the field, and there’s no clue when that’ll be.
All I know is that adding Josh Jones to the other moves made up until this point, and the Cardinals’ “meal” finally does feel perfect on paper.
So with the meat & potatoes now—here’s hoping Day 3 is the gravy train.
You can listen to a breakdown of Jones on the Revenge of the Birds Podcast: