While their first-overall selection is the main focus, the Arizona Cardinals will be looking to strike gold later in the draft
The Arizona Cardinals have been grabbing the headlines quite often lately. Not surprisingly, teams that hold the top spot in the NFL Draft tend to garner a bunch of attention. But while that selection is of the utmost importance, the Cards’ front office has nine more picks to worry about as well.
As it stands now, Arizona will be selecting five times in the last two rounds of the draft. While most of the best talent is expected to be gone by then, a franchise that has done its homework can still strike gold with its late choices.
One player who is expected to be available late is the University of Toledo’s Cody Thompson. The redshirt senior, if drafted by the Cardinals, could take advantage of the questionable depth that the squad has at wide receiver. Thompson hauled in 181 passes for 3,312 yards and 30 touchdowns in five seasons with the Rockets.
Another late-round possibility could provide help for the Cards’ defensive line. Maryland’s Byron Cowart racked up 38 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions for the Terrapins last year. Management will need to add a reinforcement or two for the defensive front, especially if they elect to pass on Alabama’s Quinnen Williams in the first round.
Another area that Arizona could use some help at is on the offensive line. USC’s Chuma Edoga played right tackle for the Trojans, but would probably be better suited to play guard at the pro level. General manager Steve Keim could possibly take a flier on the versatile blocker in the latter stages of the draft.
Jahlani Tavai has been a tackling machine at the University of Hawaii for the past three seasons. The inside linebacker totaled 322 stops for the Rainbow Warriors during that time. The Cardinals could use a solid backup behind starters Jordan Hicks and Haason Reddick and may be able to land Tavai with one of their final selections.
The Cards could use all of the help they can get on the offensive line, so drafting another blocker might not be a bad idea. The Redbirds’ two starting tackles, D.J. Humphries and Marcus Gilbert, have missed a combined 38 games over the past two years. Sioux Falls’ Trey Pipkins could turn out to be a good insurance policy for the pair, especially if he can be added on the draft’s third day.
Arizona addressed the cornerback spot with a couple of veterans (Robert Alford, Tramaine Brock) this offseason. Even so, you can never have enough cover guys. South Dakota State’s Jordan Brown, who tallied seven career interceptions for the Jackrabbits, could be a viable late-round option.