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Sweet Picks at 16 for ARI

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Cotton Bowl Classic - Memphis v Penn State Photo by John Bunch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The top of the 2021 NFL Draft Board is pretty well defined at this point. For Arizona, having the 16th pick is looking sweeter every day, because the chances are strong that the Cardinals will have the opportunity to draft a culture changing stud.

One of the aspects of this particularly draft that works very well in the Cardinals’ favor is the likelihood that 5 QBs will be taken in the first 15 picks. For those keeping tabs, the QBs are: Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Zach Wilson (BYU), Justin Fields (Ohio St.), Trey Lance (North Dakota St. ) and Mac Jones (Alabama).

IN CBS Sports’ most recent 2021 Mock Draft they have Lawrence going to the Jaguars at #1, Wilson going to the Jets at #2, Field going to the Falcons at #4, Jones going to the Panthers at #8 and Lance going to the 49ers at #12.

What this means is that the Cardinals are really drafting at #11 for players who are not QBs.

One of the biggest questions for the Cardinals is whether they can expect one of the top 3 WRs (Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle) and/or the top TE (Kyle Pitts) to be available at #16.

I do not believe that the Cardinals can or should count on being able to select one of the the top 4 receivers. Yes, CeeDee Lamb made it all the way to the Cowboys at #17 past year as the 3rd WR taken. But, I do not envision Chase, Smith or Waddle sliding that far this year, basically because all three of them are more highly regarded that last year’s top three of Henry Riggs, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb.

As for Kyle Pitts, what recent drafts have taught us is that the top level receiving TE is apt to be taken somewhere between picks 7-15. If Kyle Pitts makes it to #15 and if the top 5 QBs and top 3 WRs are already off the board, then Bill Belichick is apt to call in the pick on speed dial.

So, for the sake of reading the numbers appropriately, I think it is wise to believe that the top 4 receivers in this draft (Chase, Smith, Waddle and Pitts) will be off the board at #16.

If the Cardinals are adamant about drafting a WR at #16, then they most likely would have to choose between Kadaris Toney (Florida), Rondale Moore (Purdue), Rashod Bateman (Minnesota) and Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU).

If the Cardinals have these four WRs graded on a par, then it would make it easy for them to try to trade down in Round 1 in order to acquire an extra draft pick or two.

The same could be said if the Cardinals are adamant about coming away with one of the top three RBs in this draft: Najee Harris (Alabama), Travis Etienne (Clemson) and Javonte Williams (North Carolina), particularly if they believe that all three could be off the board when they pick in Round 2 at #49.

As I have argued —- in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense the most valuable playmaker other than QB Kyler Murray is the bell cow RB, who gets more than double or sometimes triple the touches that the WR1, DeAndre Hopkins, receives. Thus, what a boon it would be for the offense to have an elite player at RB1.

Therefore, if what the Cardinals want with their 1st round pick in this draft is one of the top offensive skill players on their board, it would make sense for them to trade down from #16.

However, if the Cardinals are more interested in adding strength up front on offense and in the interior of the defense, the following physical dynamos could be the pick at #16, if available:

T/G Rashawn Slater, Northwestern (6-3, 314)

G Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC (6-4, 315)

34DE/DT Christian Barmore, Alabama (6’5, 310)

34DE Carlos Basham, Jr., Wake Forest (6-5, 285)

ILB Micah Parsons, Penn St. (6-3, 240)

ILB Zaven Collins, Tulsa (6-4, 260)

Put it this way, if Slater, Barmore or Parsons is on the board at #16, it would be near impossible for the Cardinals to pass on one of these physically dominant studs. The only players the Cardinals might have higher grades are T Penei Sewell (top 5 pick, imo) the three WRs (Chase, Smith, Waddle), and TE Kyle Fitts —- and perhaps one or both of the two stud CBs in this draft (although I doubt it):

Patrick Surtain II, Alabama (6-2, 202)

Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech (6-2, 207)

Maybe I am mistaken, but instinct tells me that the Cardinals are going to address the CB position in free agency and therefore will not be picking a CB in Round 1.

Early Predictions:

QB Acquisitions via Trades:

Matt Ryan to Patriots (involving their #15 pick)

Carson Wentz to Colts (involving their #21 pick)

Kirk Cousins to 49ers (involving their #12 pick)

Sam Darnold to Bears (involving Day 2 picks)

Trade:

MIN trades #12 and #14 picks to PHI for pick #6

  1. JAC: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
  2. NYJ: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
  3. MIA: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
  4. ATL: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio St.
  5. CIN: Penei Sewell, T, Oregon
  6. MIN (from PHI): Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
  7. DET: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn St.
  8. CAR: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota St.
  9. DEN: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
  10. DAL: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
  11. NYG: DeVonte Smith, WR, Alabama
  12. PHI (from MIN via SF): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
  13. LAC: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
  14. PHI (from MIN): Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
  15. ATL (from NE): Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami

A

16. ARI: Rashawn Slater, T/G, Northwestern

49. Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF

79. Demetric Felton, RB, UCLA

147. Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Louisville

210. James Smith, P, Cincinnati

or

Trade: ARI trades #16 pick to TEN for picks #22 and #85

B

22. Kadaris Toney, WR, Florida

49. Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF

79. Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio St.

85. Quinn Meinerz, G, Wisconsin-Whitewater

147. Pete Werner, LB. Ohio St.

210. Riley Patterson, K, Memphis

or (same trade)

C

22. Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

49. Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina

79. Ifeatu Melifonwu CB, Syracuse

85. Quinn Meinerz, G, Wisconsin-Whitewater

147. Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson

210. Osa Odighizuwa, DL/EDGE, UCLA

  • I think that Rawshawn Slater will be an absolute stud at guard and might be as well equipped as any player in this draft to eventually do a great job on Aaron Donald.
  • I go back to my original premise that if Rashawn Slater, Christian Barmore or Micah Parsons is on the board at #16, they are steals at #16.

Slater:

Barmore:

Parsons:

Wild Card: Zaven Collins (physical freak at 6-4, 260):

I think that it would be wise for the Cardinals to address CB, C, WR, TE and DT in free agency so that they can take the BSA (best stud available).

Which of the scenarios above would have you excited?