This is it.
Months of studying the 2020 NFL Draft prospects while pondering the Cardinals’ highest needs have narrowed down to this final mock.
I will try to explain everything.
With each of the Cardinals picks, I have determined the position I wish to address (with the assumption that DE Chase Young, S Isaiah Simmons and CB Jeff Okudah will be off the board):
202: G or OLB
In my opinion—-what the Cardinals need most is an influx of speed.
There’s a reason why Tom Brady grew increasingly frustrated when the Pats let go of WR Antonio Brown.
There’s a reason why the 49ers’ offense didn't really take off until WR Emmanuel Sanders entered the lineup.
There’s a reason why the Steelers’ defense didn't start clicking on all cylinders until FS Minkah Fitzpatrick changed the dynamic from the back end.
There’s a reason why the Cardinals’ offense didn’t start clicking on all cylinders until RB Kenyan Drake arrived and started hitting the holes with a burst.
It’s called speed and in today’s NFL it is often team speed and creativity that distinguish the winners from the losers.
My top 10 best Cardinals’ fits: 1. DE Young; 2. S Simmons; 3. CB Okudah; 4. WR Ruggs; 5. OLB/DE Chaisson; 6. T Wills; 7: WR Lamb 8. T/G Wirfs; 9. WR Jeudy; 10. DT Kinlaw.
I am expecting Round 1 to go as follows:
- CIN: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
- WAS: Chase Young, DE, Ohio St.
- DET: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio St.
- NYG: Justin Simmons, S/LB, Clemson
- MIA: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
- LAC: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
- CAR: K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB/DE, LSU
8. ARI: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama.
The Cardinals have a rare opportunity two years in a row to draft the fastest, quickest player in the class. It’s one thing to be fast, but it’s another thing to be supremely skilled. Kyler Murray is both. Henry Ruggs is both. They both know how to use their speed to their advantage, and a s a result, they cause significant problems for opposing defenses. The need for speed on offense is, imo, the key to opening this potential juggernaut wide open. The Cardinals have in QB Kyler Murray one of the most skilled deep, home run passers in the NFL. Giving him a bona fide home run WR like Ruggs could make the offense elite.
72. Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois—-Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne—-Ashtyn Davis, S, California.
Of course, this mock already assumed that unicorn S/LB isaiah Simmons will be off the board when the Cardinals pick at #8—-thus—-this early 3rd round pick needs to provide the Cardinals with a speedy, physical safety who can do something the defense was unable to do last year—-cover the TE. I am banking on one of these 3 superb prospects being available at #72.
114. Jordan Elliott, DT, Missouri—-James Lynch, DT, Baylor—-McTelvin Agim, DT, Arkansas.
What the Cardinals need here is to add an interior pass rushing threat for the nickel and dime defenses. All three of these interior players ran well at the Combine (Elliott—-5.02 at 6-4, 302—-Lynch—-5.01 at 6-4, 289—-Agim—-4.98 at 6-3, 302). With today’s interior pass rushers rushing so many athletic, mobile QBs, the DTs need to manifest a “quick twitch” ability to disengage their blockers to tackle the QB as he tries to escape the pocket. Last year’s draft picks Zach Allen and Michael Dogbe are good at it, as is newly acquired DT Jordan Phillips (9 1/1 sacks in 2019), thus it would be good to add a 4th inside rusher to complete a 4 man rotation.
131: Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachia St.—-Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona St.—-A.J. Dillion, RB, Boston College
The Cardinals have been showing a great deal of interest in Zach Moss, RB, Utah. if the Cardinals are fortunate enough to be able to draft Isaiah Simmons at #8, then taking Moss at #72 would make sense. But, the need to cover TEs is of the highest Day 2 priority and none of the 3 good, speedy safeties I mentioned at #72 are going to be on the board at #114.
Now—-if by chance Zach Moss is available at #114, then the Cardinals could take him there and hope that one of the pass rushing DTs makes it to #131. But, the odds are that Moss will be a 3rd round pick.
Thus, the three RBs I have penciled in here could be very good value picks at this point in the draft. All three were collegiate stars.
Darrynton Evans, 4.41 at 5-11, 203; career rushing 2,884 yds. (6.0 ave.), 25 TDs—-1st team All Sun Belt and Offensive Player of the Year
Eno Benjamin, 4.57 at 5-9, 207; carrer rushing 2, 867 yds. ((5.0 av.), 27 TDs—-1st Team All-Pac 12
A.J. Dillon, 4.53 at 6-0, 247; career rushing 4,312 (5.2 ave.) 38 TDs—-1st team All-ACC
202. Kevin Dotson, 6-4, 321, G, Louisiana—-Jake Hanson, 6-4, 303, C/G, Oregon—-Jon Runyan, 6-4, 306, G, Michigan—-Casey Toohill, 6-4, 250, OLB/DE, Stanford—-Derrek Tuszka, 6-5, 251, OLB/DE, North Dakota St.
This is a good spot to add some depth at guard or OLB/DE. Any one of these good sized, physical players would be a good value here.
222. Tyler Huntley, QB, Utah
Huntley, the 3rd most productive QB in Utah history, recently taped his own pro day and his times were faster than any QB at the Combine (4.56 40, 43.5” VJ, 6.84 3 cone). At 6-1, 207, Huntley’s career record at Utah was 23-9 while setting school records in completion percentage (73% for a season) and 67.2% for his career, while passing for 7,351 yards with a 46/20 TD/int. ratio and rushing for 1,146 yards and 16 TDs.
With practice squads growing to 12 this season, the Cardinals would like to keep a third QB. They tried to sign XFL MVP P.J. Walker, thus drafting Huntley, who had a more prolific college career than Walker, would make a lot of sense at this spot in the draft. Huntley could battle with Drew Anderson for the QB3 job.
Brett Hundley and Tyler Huntley—-that has a good ring to it, doesn’t it?
Imagine this—-the Cardinals two years in a row draft the top player on the All-Satellite Team (per ESPN’s Todd McShay):