The following is a prognostication of what could very well be one of the most important drafts in Arizona Cardinals history
The Arizona Cardinals better get this one right. Having the first-overall pick of the NFL draft is both humiliating and exciting for the organization and it’s fans. A horrendous on-field performance in 2018 has put the Cardinals in the top spot, so it’s best that they try to take full advantage of the unique situation.
Having the first selection in the draft is like the gift that keeps on giving. Arizona gets to acquire the top collegiate player, obviously, but the good fortune doesn’t stop there. The club also gets to pick first in every round after that, so being an awful squad does actually help your franchise a great deal during the following offseason.
The following is a relatively early version of a mock draft for the Cards. This year’s event, which will take place in Nashville, Tennessee, is still almost three months away. In addition, this stab at what the Cardinals will do at the draft does not include any compensatory picks that the team is expected to be awarded.
Arizona general manager Steve Keim needs to resist the temptation to overthink the top selection. Unless the organization is offered a king’s ransom for the pick, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa needs to be the choice. Pairing the stud edge rusher with the outstanding Chandler Jones would give the Cards one of the best pass-rushing combinations in the league.
Taking North Carolina State wide receiver Kelvin Harmon in the second round would also make a load of sense. The great Larry Fitzgerald will eventually retire, so the Cardinals would be smart to start stockpiling pass-catchers who can play. The 6’3, 214 pound Harmon recorded six games with 100-plus receiving yards in 2018, including an eye-popping 247 versus Syracuse last October.
Keim addresses the ongoing offensive line dilemma in the third round. Yodny Cajuste, an offensive tackle out of West Virginia University, is the pick. The 6’4, 316 pounder has started 30 career contests, including 11 at left tackle last season.
Arizona’s fourth-round selection provides a possible solution for another yearly problem for the franchise. Miami Hurricane Michael Jackson is chosen to be a candidate for the squad’s number-two cornerback post. The 6’2, 200 pounder has started 26 games over the past two years, registering 85 tackles, four interceptions and 11 pass breakups during that time.
The Cards stay close to home with their fifth-round choice. Arizona State’s Renell Wren recorded 43 tackles (four and a half for a loss) and a sack from the nose tackle spot last season. The 6’6, 297 pounder is a versatile defender who can play various positions along the defensive line.
Keim doubles up at wide receiver with the first of the Cardinals’ two sixth-round picks. Marshall’s Tyre Brady tallied 71 receptions for 1,002 yards and nine touchdowns in ’18. The 6’3, 206 pounder played with the University of Miami for two campaigns before transferring to Marshall in 2016.
Arizona was awarded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ sixth-round selection (giving up their own seventh-rounder in exchange) as compensation for the Bruce Arians hiring. Central Michigan’s Sean Bunting is the choice. The 6’1,181 cornerback racked up 104 tackles, nine interceptions and 15 passes defensed in 35 career contests.