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4 Nifty Fits for Cardinals at Pick No. 23

NCAA Football: Missouri at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Background: Nov 26, 2021; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Treylon Burks (16) celebrates after a touchdown against the Missouri Tigers in the third quarter at Donald W. Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium. Arkansas won 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault

  1. WR Treylon Burks, 6-3, 225, Arkansas. NFL Comp: A.J. Brown (with more wiggle, per Lance Zierlein of NFL.com)

Physical traits: (link here)

https://www.nfldraftbuzz.com/Player/Treylon-Burks-WR-Arkansas

Per Lance Zierlein (NFL.com):

Big, smooth and natural, Burks possesses the versatility to operate from wherever you want and get to wherever you need no matter the competition. He’s a mismatch receiver combining size, strength and competitiveness similar to the Titans’ A.J. Brown, but appears to be faster and more athletic. Arkansas benefitted by putting the ball in his hands from a variety of alignments and there is no reason to believe NFL play-callers won’t benefit from doing the same. For as talented as Burks is today, he’s likely to keep getting better. He will require specific game-planning for defenses operating without a true CB1 and has the potential to star as a high-volume, three-level target who can start and produce in his rookie season.

Burks is a turbo version of Deebo Samuel. He is the ultimate, modern “flex” WR. One can just imagine Kliff Kingsbury watching Burks’ game tapes and thinking “wow, imagine what we can do with a playmaker like this in our offense.”

Why Treylon Burks over Jameson Williams (who would also be a great pick)?

Flexibility, physicality and durability.

2. DE Jermaine Johnson, 6-4, 259, Florida St. NFL Comp: Maxx Crosby (per Lance Zierlein)

Physical Traits:

https://www.nfldraftbuzz.com/Player/Jermaine-Johnson-LB-Georgia

Per Lance Zierlein (NFL.com):

Ascending edge prospect. Johnson has NFL traits and the potential to keep getting bigger and better as a pro. He is a one-year full-time starter with an underdeveloped pass rush and occasional lapses in awareness, but both areas should be correctable with more coaching and game experience. He’s more instinctive and consistent as a run defender, but his length and relentlessness are excellent building blocks for challenging protection. Johnson’s blend of strength and athleticism should make him a firm edge-setter and playmaker near the line of scrimmage for odd or even fronts. He has the traits, athleticism and talent to project as a top-40 pick with a bright future.

Jermaine Johnson is long, angular, quick and slippery off the edge. See for yourself:

Why Jermaine Johnson over Purdue’s DE George Karlaftis (who would also be a great pick)?

Better suited to play 34 “Bandit” OLB, because of speed, quickness and athleticism.

3. CB Trent McDuffie, 5-11, 195, Washington. NFL Comp: Jaire Alexander

Physical Traits: (link here)

https://www.nfldraftbuzz.com/Player/Trent-McDuffie-DB-Washington

Per Lance Zierlein (nfl.com):

Three-year starter whose average size is overshadowed by skillful ruggedness, allowing him to contest throws from a variety of coverages. He’s an elite competitor with a route-hugging mentality fueled by body control, foot agility, aggression and burst. He’s a pesky press-man defender with the tools to excel in zone. He’s willing to fly downhill and hit anybody near the football. He keeps his eyes on the prize and has an itchy, twitchy trigger to close throwing windows and make plays on the ball. He lacks lockdown traits but has lockdown talent and his competitive energy is contagious. He can play outside or from the slot and carries a very high floor with the potential to become one of the league’s top corners at some point during his first contract.

T-Mac’s the quick, pesky cover CB who can dog the likes of Cooper Kupp, Deebo Samuel and Tyler Lockett, thus filling a huge need for the Cardinals. See for yourself:

Why Trent McDuffie over Kyler Gordon (who would also be a great pick)?

McDuffie is quicker and stickier in man coverage, plus he’s a stronger tackler.

4. G Zion Johnson, 6-3, 214, Boston College. NFL Comp: Elgton Jenkins, Packers, per Joe Marino, of thedraftnetwork.com

FILM EVALUATION

Written by Joe Marino

Games watched: Virginia Tech (2019), NC State (2019), Clemson (2019), Duke (2020), Notre Dame (2020), Missouri (2021), Clemson (2021), Virginia Tech (2021)

Best Game Studied: Virginia Tech (2021)

Worst Game Studied: Duke (2020)

Competitive Toughness: Brings an aggressive and physical mentality to the table and is always looking to finish blocks and set the tone up front. His play demeanor and temperament are exactly what the NFL is looking for. He continually looks for work and competes through the whistle.

Balance: Johnson features a bit of a narrow build but rarely is he easily displaced or out of control. He does well to play with leverage and stay square to blocks. He has terrific control working laterally and in space.

Anchor Ability: Johnson handles the bull rush on the interior and is stout when it comes to setting the depth of the pocket. His ability to leverage his hips and bow his back while remaining in control is impressive while he continues to battle for hand placement to control reps. I did not witness any issues with opponents playing through him during my exposures.

Lateral Mobility: Johnson’s ability to work laterally shines in Boston College’s zone-heavy rushing attack. He has no issues sliding his feet and quickly redirecting his weight in tight spaces. He takes good anglesand showcases the ability to reach block and get to aggressive landmarks because of his easy lateral movement skills.

Power at POA: Johnson has above average power, which I find to be most notable in situations where his opponent gets into his frame but Johnson is still able to maintain his ground while competing to place his hands and control the rep. He recovers well often because of his powerful core and firm hands. Whether it’s absorbing power and anchoring or generating movement in the run game, Johnson has the functional strength needed to execute.

Hand Technique: Johnson is aggressive and consistent with his hands and often wins reps by quickly placing and latching his hands by winning with first contact. He does vary his strikes and there is a united relationship between his hands and feet. His grip strength makes it hard for opponents to find success displacing his hands.

Football IQ: How quickly Johnson made the transition from Davidson to Boston College and forced his way into the lineup speaks to his football intelligence and ability to acclimate. There is a natural sense of timing in how Johnson executes his assignments. Johnson understands his technique, trusts it, and is rarely guilty of penalties.

Versatility: Johnson has two seasons of experience at Boston College playing left guard and one at left tackle. His best position is on the interior but he can play tackle in a pinch if necessary. Johnson is a natural fit in a zone rushing scheme but also holds his own with gap concepts. While he’s best in pass protection, Johnson is a balanced blocker that finds success in the run game and operating in space.

Pass Sets: Johnson’s one season at left tackle was beneficial in securing his pass sets, which improved notably in 2021. He is comfortable framing blocks and staying square. The Boston College offense features plenty of pro concepts, which will be an asset for Johnson in his transition and what he’ll be tasked with at the next level.

Flexibility: Johnson features an impressive ability to hinge, pivot, and redirect, which often shows up when he’s uncovered in pass protection. He is springy when it comes to lateral mobility and I’ve never come away from studying a rep thinking Johnson had concerning stiffness. His ability to bow his back and absorb is highly impressive.

Todd McShay: “Best player at the Senior Bowl” (read article here:)

https://www.boston.com/sports/nfl/2022/02/06/zion-johnson-todd-mcshay-senior-bowl-best-player-nfl-draft/

Senior Bowl Highlights:

Game Highlights:

Zion Johnson is the powerful, strong base interior offensive lineman the Cardinals need in order to be a physical matchup for the likes of Aaron Donald, Arik Armstead and Poona Ford.

Why Zion Johnson over Kenyon Green (who is also a great pick)?

While Green has a slight edge in brute strength, Johnson has the agility and quickness to handle both the stronger and the quicker defensive tackles in the NFL.

ROTB Question of the Day:

Which of the 4 mock drafts is your favorite and why?

Note: Two of the PFF Simulator’s picks (#177, #200) for the Cardinals are incorrect and should be #199 and #214. So, for those two picks, I only chose available players ranked at or beyond #199 and #214 at those picks. Otherwise, I made my selections from all the available players that had not been selected at the pick when the Cardinals were on the board.