Arizona 08 Draft Prediction: Rock Chalk Cardinal!

OK, I’m putting it out there. I believe that with the 16th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select……..Aqib Talib, CB Kansas.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love this pick. This kid is a gifted playmaker. He is tall, he is fast, he is big, and he takes advantage of the little mistakes that opposing QBs make. Now if you have been doing your assigned pre-draft reading, you will find little clues to this pick.

For example, GM Rod Graves had this to say about picking a CB in the 1st round:

“You don’t get the corners who are big and fast and can cover and tackle, because if you have that guy, he usually is gone before the 10th pick. So usually you have to pick, apples or oranges. That’s where the coaches come in.”

He’s right. For the most part CBs are smaller, leaner players that rely on their quickness and deep speed to play coverage in the NFL. Typically, you don’t see a true corner in the league over 6’0″ tall. But remember what Graves said, “big and fast and can cover and tackle.”

“Big and Fast”

Now there are four top rated corners in this draft, all considered to be first round talents:

1. Aqib Talib, Kansas
2. Leodis McKelvin, Troy
3. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, TN State
4. Mike Jenkins, South Florida

Of the four, only Talib (6’1″) and DRC (6’2″) are over 6 feet tall. Of the four, only Talib registers over 200lbs at 202. So there is the “big” part. At the Combine, he posted a 40 time of 4.4 seconds. So there is the “fast” part.

“Can Cover and Tackle”

Here’s a few stats for everyone to mull over. Talib started 32 out of 34 games during a 3 year stint at Kansas. During that time he compiled 162 tackles (126 solo) with 9.5 stops for losses, as well as two forced fumbles and two more recovered. He deflected 43 passes and has 13 career interceptions, which ranks him fourth all time among Big Twelve Conference players. He has 322 yards via INT returns and returned two for TDs. He was a consensus All-American, a unanimous All-Big Twelve Conference first team pick and a finalist for the Nagurski Award (National Defensive Player of the Year).

“Cover and tackle”, yeah, GOT IT!

So according to Graves, we have already decided who we are going to draft. I mean, it’s pretty obvious! But in truth I think this guy is who we should go with. You can listen to the Cards front office say all they want about not drafting for need, but Talib is a tremendously talented player who happens to also fill a glaring need on our team.

The biggest knocks on Talib are his footwork and his ball instincts. Some scouts are saying that he doesn’t seem to have a feel for when the ball is in the air, or that he gambles to much in coverage, but I would disagree. Talib is always looking to make a play; he has those long arms and has excellent hands which he constantly uses to disrupt the passing lanes. Some may say he is not as physical as Jenkins or Brandon Flowers from Virginia Tech, or that he’s not as fast as DRC or McKelvin and they are right on both accounts. But HE IS a great blend of both. He’s fast and he’s physical. Some may have him beat in a certain area, but Talib is the better overall package as a defensive back. And I’m sorry to say it, but played against much tougher competition in the Big 12 than the other top 3 Corners. That he was able to come away with 13 picks and 43 pass deflections facing off against opponents like Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas speaks volumes for his abilities.

Some may cite character issues with him based on the admitted marijuana use. But he is not like fellow draftee Mario Manningham, Talib never lied to NFL teams about his usage. He admitted to it, and I think that goes a long way towards his character. Now I’m not advocating another Ricky Williams saga, I just think that Talib is not Williams, and he is worth any percieved risk.

So there it is, my final prediction for the Cards first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. We’ll see. ROCK! CHALK! CARDINALS!

Mike Duggan

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