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Glimpse Ahead to the Cardinals’ 2024 Season Part III

Who will be the Cardinals’ 1st pick in the 2024 NFL Draft?

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2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3 Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

If the 2024 NFL Draft were to commence today, the Arizona Cardinals would have the 3rd pick, behind the Bears (via the Panthers) at #1 and the Patriots at #2.

The most intriguing question at the top of the draft is whether the Bears will decide to keep building around QB Justin Fields, or whether they will choose instead to take a QB at the top of the draft.

QB needy teams are most likely going to try to offer a bonanza of picks to the Bears, Patriots and the Cardinals.

At this point, it would feel like a certainty that the Patriots will want to draft one of the top QBs, which is why they will make full, immediate use of the #2 pick.

In light of Kyler’s Murray 2-2 return and the positive flashes he has provided throughout his return, it appears reasonably certain that the Cardinals will not be one of the teams looking to pounce on one of the top QBs in Round 1.

Last year, with the Cardinals picking #3, the pre-draft speculation was that GM Monti Ossenfort was either going to take Alabama’s prized edge rusher, Will Anderson Jr., or try to trade down to acquire extra picks.

This year, there appears to be similar speculation with regard to Ohio St.’s All-American WR Marvin Harrison, Jr.. If the outstanding Buckeye is on the board when the Cardinals pick, this year Monti Ossenfort may be inclined to shun a bevy of trade offers in order to select MHJ.

However, if MHJ is taken before the Cardinals pick, then a trade with a QB needy team would seem inevitable.

One would expect Ossenfort to try to trade down within the top ten to be able to snag one of the very best players in the pool.

Let’s take a close look at the top 12 players on PFF’s current 2024 NFL Draft Big Board:

NFL Draft Big Board | PFF

Number - player - 2023 PFF grade — 2022 PFF grade — highest PFF positional grade in USA in either 2023 or 2022

  1. QB Caleb Williams, 6-1, 215, USC —- 90.3, 91.8. —- 5th
  2. WR Marvin Harrison, Jr., 6-4, 205, Ohio St., —- 89.8, 90.2 —- 3rd
  3. QB Drake Maye, 6-4, 230, North Carolina —- 90.6, 91.5 —- 9th
  4. T Olu Fashanu, 6-4, 319, Penn St. —- 78.8, 71.0 —- 24th
  5. TE Brock Bowers, 6-4, 240, Georgia —- 84.1, 90.0 —- 2nd
  6. ED Laiatu Latu, 6-5, 265, UCLA, 96.1, 88.4 —- 1st
  7. T Joe Alt, 6-8, 322, Notre Dame —- 91.0, 91.4 —- 2nd
  8. WR Malik Nabers, 6-0, 200, LSU —- 93.0, 77.6 —- 1st
  9. DI Jer’Zhan Newton, 6-2, 295, Illinois —- 85.1, 91.5 —- 7th
  10. WR Rome Odunze, 6-3, 215 —- 88.1,, 79.1, —- 14th
  11. ED Chop Robinson, 6-3, 250, Penn St. —- 90.8, 90.6 —- 5th
  12. CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, 6-1, 195, Alabama —- 88.1, 82.5 —- 13th

Wild Card:

22. QB Jayden Daniels, 6-4, 210, LSU —- 94.7, 87.8 —- 1st

Commentary:

  • I listed QB Jayden Daniels as a Wild Card because if he crushes the pre-draft process the way one would expect, he is going to be a top 10 pick.
  • I believe there is a very strong possibility that the Bears will take Marvin Harrison Jr. with the #1 pick to pair him with D.J., Moore and Cole Kmet as a potentially elite triple threat. The impressive way in which HC Matt Eberflus and his staff have galvanized the Bears in recent weeks has made it a tad more reasonable for the Bears’ brass to keep the status quo in order to preserve the team’s momentum heading into next season.
  • At pick #2, it feels likely that the Patriots will lean towards Drake Maye because of his blend of size (similar to Tom Brady’s), arm strength and athleticism.
  • If the start of the draft is #1 MHJ; #2 Drake Maye, then the Cardinals should be able to cash in on a trade bonanza.
  • I have the Giants most likely trade partner and thus, with the chance to draft Caleb Williams (in this scenario), the Giants are willing to give up picks #7, #39, #104 and their 2025 1st and 3rd with the Cardinals trading the #3 and one of their Day 3 picks.

CTRL —- ALT —- DEL Mocks!

CTRL MOCK:

Control mock as in seeking greater ball control on offense. The two elite big receivers in the 2024 NFL Draft are Marvin Harrison Jr., (6-4, 2015, Ohio St.) and Brock Bowers (6-4, 240, Georgia). If MHJ is off the board, let’s go ahead and make the trade with the Giants and select Bowers at #7. Seeing as Drew Petzing prefers to run 12 schemes (1 RB, 2 TE) and in light of how well Kyler Murray is throwing to Trey McBride, imagine how difficult it would be for opposing defenses to try to cover McBride on one side with Bowers on the other —- as well as —- trying to cover them combination routes when they are on the same side. The most prolific offenses today are the ones who can take control of the middle of the field.

  1. Trey McBride (79.3) and Brock Bowers (84.1), the nation’s latest 3 Mackey Award winners, would have the potential to be the most formidable TE chain-moving tandem in the NFL. Having a pair of big, athletic targets could make things much easier for Kyler Murray —- as well as —- with McBride and Bowers occupying the safeties —- make the vertical passing game all the more accessible.
  2. JC Latham (80.9) of Alabama may be the best RT in this draft —- thus, by tabbing him with the 2nd 1st round pick, the coaches could switch Paris Johnson Jr. over to LT.
  3. Terrion Arnold (89.8) has been playing at such a high level for Alabama that to some scouts it’s now a toss-up between him and Kool-Aid McKinstry.
  4. Kris Jenkins (79.0) is my favorite Day 2 DT. He reminds me some of Christian Wilkins.
  5. Mekhi Wingo (79.3) lacks ideal height, but, he rips through gaps with quickness and power and would be a perfect complement to Kris Jenkins.
  6. Payton Wilson at 6-4, 238 (88.7 Butkus Award) has the size, athleticism and downhill nose for the ball that the Cardinals need at the MIKE, which would enable the team to switch Kyzir White over to WILB where he had his best season as a pro in 2022.
  7. Christian Mahogany (71.5) is a mauler in both the run and passing games.
  8. Sedrick Van Pran (80.0) has given up 1 sack and 1 QB hit in three years as Goergia’s starting center.

THE ALT MOCK:

It’s interesting how PFF has Olu Fashanu rated higher than Joe Alt, despite the fact that Joe Alt graded considerably higher while playing what was arguably the tougher schedule this year.

It’s even more curious to note that on the PFF Mock Draft Simulator with Fashanu ranked #4 and Alt ranked #7, in every mock I made today, Alt came off the board before Fashanu. What might that tell us?

The fact is, both Fashanu and Alt have the size and talent to be Pro Bowl type tackles.

I believe that because Joe Alt played in a pro-style offense at Notre Dame that is quite similar to Petzing’s offense, he would be the most natural fit of the two.

  1. The Cardinals are able to select Joe Alt (91.0) first and then tab one of the most talented big, velcro-handed WRs in Keon Coleman (71.3) of Florida St. Plus, they were able to select his outstanding QB Jordan Travis (87.3 —- rehabbing from knee injury) at pick #159.
  2. Kamari Lassiter (82.4) of Georgia is holding QBs this year to a passer rating of 56.2 and has not given up a TD.
  3. JT Tuioaloau (77.0) of Ohio St. has the size and strength at 6-4, 270 to rush from the outside and the inside. Hie is stout against the run and has delivered on 11 sacks the past two years. He’s a classic DE on a 4 man line who has upside as a 34 DE,
  4. Ruke Orhorhoro (75.8) of Clemson, at 6-4, 295 is a classic gap charging run-stuffer and under-rated pass rusher (13 career sacks).
  5. TreVeyon Henderson (89.4) of Ohio St. would likely love to run behind PJJ in the pros. He had 32 career TDs with the Buckeyes.
  6. Jermaine Barton (82.1) of Alabama has 777 yards this season at 22.5 yards per catch and 8 TDs.
  7. Junior Colson (81.5) of Michigan at 6-3, 247 is a rock-solid paragon of consistency in both run and pass defense, grading in the low 80s at both. it would be a dream come true for me to see the Cardinals find a way to strengthen the middle of the defense with the Wolverines’ DT Kris Jenkins, MLB Junior Colson and S Ron Moore —- that would be hitting the draft trifecta! Moore is the type of playmaking centerfielder the Cardinals need on the back end of the secondary.
  8. Drake Nugent (77.3, 80.5, 77.5) will slide because he’s 6-2 301, but like teammate Junior Colson, he has been a rock-solid model of consistency throughout his three years as the starting center. An offensive Wolverine trifecta of C Drake Nugent, All-American G Zak Zinter (76.6) who is coming off the broken leg his suffered vs Ohio St., and TD machine RB Blake Corum (82.0 —- 92.0 in 2022 —- 53 career TDs and 6.1 ypc).

THE DEL MOCK:

Delete as in trying to add some potentially elite players on defense.

  1. Laiatu Lalu (96.1) is a force to be reckoned with off the edge at 6-5, 265. Lalu has amassed 27 sacks and 83 QB pressures over the past two seasons. Plus, he’s stout versus the run (79.1).
  2. Troy Fautanu (71.6) of Washington is perhaps the most athletic hip-flipping pancakers in this draft.
  3. Byron Murphy II (90.8) from Texas will slide some because he’s 6-1, 308, but his 6 sacks and 38 QB pressures this season will land him somewhere in the Top 100. Pairing him with Ruke Orhorhoro (75.8) of Clemson would be a coup.
  4. Khyree Jackson (80.2) of Oregon is one of the best taller (6-3, 195) CBs in this draft and is having a fantastic season, notching 3 interceptions and a 50% completion ratio for a 46.1 passer rating.
  5. Oronde Gadsden II (82.2) at 6-5, 223 could be this year’s Syracuse offensive version of Garrett Williams. Gadsden incurred an Lisfranc injury to his foot back in September and has been rehabbing ever since. In 2022, he caught 61 passes for 966 yards (15.8 ave.) and 6 TDs.
  6. Xavier Restrepo (86.4) of the U is a dynamic slot WR in the Julian Edelman mode. This season he caught 74 passes for 1,006 yards (13.6 ave.) and 5 TDs.
  7. Brant Kuithe (77.6 in 2021) is a 3-time 2nd Team All-Pac 12 TE who is now fully recovered from a torn ACL and meniscus injury that he suffered in 2022. He’s about to turn 25 which is why he decided to declare for the draft.

CTRL —- ALT —- DELETE —- ROTB Poll:

Poll

If Marvin Harrison Jr. is taken before the Cardinals pick, which of these three drafts would be your favorite?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    CTRL with Brock Bowers
    (45 votes)
  • 54%
    ALT with Joe Alt
    (91 votes)
  • 18%
    DEL with Laiatu Latu
    (31 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now

Which of these drafts appealed the most to you and why?

If for some reason, Bowers, Alt and Latu are all taken ahead of the Cardinals after they tradw down, MODS could select:

  • CTRL: WR Malik Nabers or WR Rome Odunze
  • ALT: T Olu Fashanu
  • DEL: DT Jer’Zhan Newton or CB Kool-Aid McKinstry

Do you agree with those choices? Any others?

If the only way to draft Marvin Harrison Jr. is to trade both 1st round picks, would you want the Cardinals to do it?

Poll

If the only way to draft Marvin Harrison Jr. is to trade both 1st round picks, would you want the Cardinals to do it?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Yes
    (9 votes)
  • 95%
    No
    (196 votes)
205 votes total Vote Now

How did you vote? Why?