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12 Names to know for the Cardinals for Round 1 of the NFL Draft

@blakemurphy7 spills the beans on what’s been heard, what’s been said, and what fits the most as we head into the draft’s first day

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After what feels like an even longer offseason than usual (given the swift exit from the playoffs, a Rams Super Bowl and a lack of offseason minus some Kyler Murray drama) the sole spring bastion of hope to the addicted NFL fan is here:

The NFL Draft.

The draft begins tonight.

The Arizona Cardinals will be picking at 23 unless they choose to, you know, trade back. Or up. Or even include it in a package deal.

This has been one of the crazier “draft” seasons due to the fact that there are mixed grades on nearly all the players due to the fact that it’s a weaker class at the top, and pretty stout throughout with depth at some of the key positions of pass-rusher and wide receiver.

Both are needs for the Cardinals, but there are others as well. Here’s a list, with links and connections and any additional insight available as to names to “watch” on the first night of the draft:

  1. Jordan Davis
  2. Jameson Williams
  3. Chris Olave
  4. Jahan Dotson
  5. Zion Johnson
  6. Kenyon Green
  7. George Pickens
  8. Jalen Pitre
  9. Trent McDuffie
  10. Kaiir Elam
  11. Jermaine Johnson
  12. Logan Hall

Let’s go piece by piece with the players on this list, starting with big Jordan Davis:

Jordan Davis, DT, UGA

This is indeed correct. Keim has seemingly been after an impact interior defensive lineman for quite some time now. The 2020 NFL Draft saw him looking at Derrick Brown out of Auburn, and the Cardinals Flight Plan post-draft episode even saw him go “So Isaiah Simmons is our guy” after Brown’s selection...which seemed to indicate not that Simmons was their player because they would take him no matter what, but rather that they were comfortable with whomever Carolina passed on.

2019 he even either lied to Quinnen Williams or was adamant about wanting him in the NFL draft despite the team taking Kyler Murray at #1 overall.

And of course, was one of the players mentioned in the Gambo 5 if you didn’t think that would be the case.

And after paying JJ Watt all that money...yeah he’s wanted a guy for a while as a priority.

If Keim had wanted Simmons, he would have reacted, I’d think, similar to the Vikings when Justin Jefferson fell to them one pick after Jalen Reagor went to the Eagles.

It wouldn’t shock me if Keim was just as high on the Bulldog as some of the pass rushers out there, yes, even as high as some of the players who are projected to go #1 overall.

Jameson Williams, WR, Bama

There’s been reports everywhere from Twitter...

To Peter King, too about a weapon..and even more about Arizona (though I was told this meeting itself didn’t happen)

Like fellow Bama receiver before him, Arizona wanting speed for Kyler Murray’s electric arm talent isn’t new, but it’d probably take a leap up ahead of the Jets & Falcons to secure him. It’s unlikely but I would guess based on past deals that Arizona would have an option to jump up should he slip to a certain point. Whether he will, though, is anyone’s guess. But it’s unlikely that they’ll do it versus be outmatched by another team.

Chris Olave, WR

The reason Olave’s been mentioned (and this was the first recorded time on twitter I believe)

...is that he’s a great vertical fit and a well-rounded outside player.

I, for one, think his experience and production will outweigh some of the other players, maybe even a Dotson, on this list while it might not have the electric upside of others. He’s a name to watch as while he will probably go after his teammate, he will certainly be in demand.

Jahan Dotson, WR

It’s very possible that his routes, hands and ability to play at a high level despite a terrible quarterback throwing him the ball (and a lack of depth with a bigger run than expected on receivers early) means he could be the pick here.

NFL Network’s Peter Schrager has nailed, essentially, the last 3 drafts for Arizona: Kyler, Simmons, Collins, with his mock drafts. His first mock had Dotson there...will his last?

He’s a good player, too. I’d love to see him picked.

Mentioned also in the Gambo 5 picks, so one thing to pay attention to there.

It’s been long-connected for AZ but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers take him one pick ahead or deal back a few spots for someone like Kansas City or Tennessee to jump up. Or...they go defense. It’s a weird draft for sure.

Zion Johnson/Kenyon Green.

The guards.

I ruled out Green earlier in a previous article after a slower time showed he might be more of a power athlete than a mover in space.

It might be that a private workout has changed the Cards minds...and maybe mine as to if they’ll consider him.

He’s in the Gambo 5, of course...always worth a look

It’s possible also that Johnson goes ahead of Green now, or maybe Arizona has Green>Johnson.

I think both are in the picture but it also wouldn’t shock me if Arizona wanted a receiver or an edge to trade up for, watched Dotson go in a wide receiver run...and saw a few guys they liked fall to where they could jump back.

It might be they take whatever offensive lineman is there.

So yeah, I think either’s an option. That being said...there’s another option for trade (and one that I recently mocked playing out).

A “go for it all” team like the Bucs might want to leap the interior-offensive line-needy Cowboys for one of those guards and give Steve Keim a pick back.

...and wouldn’t it be a treat to see his old pal Jason Licht make a move with him, again?

Kaiir Elam, Cornerback

Let’s continue with another from the Gambo 5...this name makes sense also because of the fact that there’s two corners that will be taken well ahead of Arizona...and one who is the next player on this list.

The next corner would be a partner to a player the Cards already drafted. I think this is the “in case break glass” pick after a possible trade back or if everyone else is picked clean.

Trent McDuffie, CB

He’s seemingly just seen on a high level from multiple teams and in high demand.

Has been for a while.

All of those teams besides the Bills pick ahead of Arizona...and the Vikings might even consider him at 12th overall if Stingley Jr. and Gardner, the other top corners, are off the board.

It’s possible that Arizona looks to trade up, but part of me doubts it. I think that the priority to “trade up” for him won’t be as high as it might given how Arizona’s preference would likely be on offense...or if on defense, to an edge/defensive lineman.

Two cornerbacks on the Gambo 5 list when everyone is looking at the offense?

Tells me that the Cardinals are thinking that all the guys they love will be gone and they might be moving back and settling...or forced to stay and pick.

Fans won’t like that but that’s the draft sometimes.

Jalen Pitre, S

A safety?

Sure, after a trade back.

Mentioning two players Arizona was high on and drafted? Well...yeah.

Also a peek behind the curtains but I’ve heard that Pitre might be inside the top 10 talents on Arizona’s board. In that case, looking at him being a player that Arizona jumps back for and drafts to replace Jalen Thompson in a year would be...possible. Not optimal. Watch for this but know it’d be a shock to me, even after a trade-back.

Jermaine Johnson, Edge

I think he’s the edge they’ve probably coveted the most in this draft. If he falls out of the top 10, it makes sense to think that there would be a move up from a team and Arizona has a definite need.

He didn’t make the Gambo 5 but was featured in another leak that he would be preferred along with Edge Travon Walker...who probably goes at 1, now. And he might himself be gone by 4 or not fall past 10.

Still, if Arizona sees the likes of Jameson Williams worth trading up for, why not a pass rusher?

Finally...a name that’s been loosely connected and a bonus...

Would have mentioned Arnold Ebiketie myself (and still think he might be a target) but looking at actual known insight from insiders, I’m putting Hall, who could be a DE/DT hybrid that moves inside and out, into this list given that he might be a player who goes earlier than expected.

And finally, a wildcard...

Why is this fascination? Two reasons:

  1. Pickens is considered a player who needs to mature (and is really young) but...has the talent to be a top 3 receiver in this class
  2. Arizona doesn’t pick in between that listed range

Arizona picks at 23 and again at 55.

That’s not in range.

So why mention that if he might not get picked? Must mean AZ has shown a lot of interest...or that he sees multiple Packers/Chiefs picks in which he could be chosen.

Hmm.

That means that they’re either looking at Pickens where they select, are hoping he falls...or would be trading down/up for him.

It’s hard to see the Cardinals taking him but given the fact that the Packers seem to favor him, it’s possible that they could look to move back a bit, still secure him ahead of the Packers or Chiefs...or he might be someone they’d look to trade up for from 55.

I think the latter is more likely with his injury issues & the like but we will find out. There’s a scenario where I think Arizona moves back to add a 4th rounder, stays ahead of the Packers and Chiefs and end up taking Pickens.

...but it would take a team like the Chiefs trading up to take Dotson ahead of Arizona, as well, in my opinion.

Jahan is just a cleaner prospect.

For now? I think if Dotson’s at 23, he’s the pick unless AZ gets a large offer (a 3rd rounder) to move back.

If he isn’t? I could see Elam there over Pickens, but won’t rule out the latter in a shocker to many.

The real wildcard to me would be if we see one guy in Davis fall past the Ravens and more receivers (like Dotson) go at pick 19. Then, all bets might be off. Hard to see Williams fall.

I give a 1.0% chance of the Cards being able to trade up and jump a team like the Eagles for Jameson Williams due to how the Eagles...have more draft capital.

But never say never!

So, thoughts on the final 12? These are players that either I know or we have read that have been tied to Arizona in more than just “Speculation” but rather sourced takes from teams and insiders.

I think that the player AZ takes could be one of these guys come around 10pm EST tonight.

Do you?