NFL Draft: Arizona Cardinals 2021 Final Mock Draft
The NFL draft begins tomorrow. This incoming class is loaded with talent and depth at multiple positions that benefit the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals season did not end with a playoff birth despite a strong start. After adding high-quality veterans like J.J. Watt and A.J. Green, both sides of the ball should be improved.
With limited selections for this draft, Kliff Kingsbury must add impact players to help push this team into the post-season. This is possibly the most important off-season and draft Kingsbury has faced since becoming the head coach three years ago. I have studied the tape and surveyed the Cardinals roster to formulate my final mock draft.
Long-time Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson signed with the Minnesota Vikings during the free agency period. This has left a void in the Cardinals’ secondary. Factor in playing in one of the tougher divisions in the league that deploys hard to defend offense, strengthening the secondary is necessary.
Late draft bloomer and potential first-rounder Greg Newsome possesses the requisite physical and athletic traits to be a number one corner. Highly skilled in man and zone coverage, Newsome is a scheme versatile defensive back.
Newsome has the size, standing six foot one and 190 pounds to match up with different wide receiver prototypes. Whether it is DK Metcalf, Robert Woods, Deebo Samuel, Adding him to this secondary that is bound to successfully rush the passer, Newsome would have ample opportunity to make plays on the ball.
Sticking and fearless in coverage, he has no issues being a force player in the run game. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph should be excited to mold Newsome as his prototypical CB1.
One of the biggest areas of need in the desert is the tight end position. Last year’s starter Dan Arnold left in free agency to join the Carolina Panthers. Pat Freiermuth’s skill set meshes well with the modern-day offense. The game revolves around the passing game and creating constant mismatches for the defense to adjust to.
The tight end position is the biggest mismatch in the NFL. In Kingsbury’s offense, Freiermuth could align all over the formation, but roaming the middle will be the sweet spot. Freiermuth is incredibly reliable in the red zone.
His fluid route running creates separation against safeties and linebackers. After the catch, Freiermuth’s strength comes into play. He breaks tackles and drags defenders for extra yards. Adding him to an offense with Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, and Christian Kirk could push this team closer to their post-season goals for 2021.
As some things change, others tend to stay the same. I have not pivoted from adding talent to the running back room. Furthermore, I have stayed consistent with the prospect to select. Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill blends together power, contact balance, and receiving versatility.
In a heavy inside zone-based rushing attack, Hill’s power and tight quarter elusiveness would mesh nicely. He does not need to improve on his vision and patience. With veteran running backs James Conner and Chase Edmond leading the way, Hill can slowly work his way into the rotation.
Hill has the abilities and physical traits to become the feature back for this Murray-led offense.
A continuous effort to protect Kyler Murray and improve the ground game remains the goal. As most of us are aware, this is one of the deeper offensive line drafts in recent history. Bryce Hargrove is one of the deep sleepers that can develop into a high-end starting guard.
Hargrove blends power, aggression, and a mauler’s mentality. His best trait is pass blocking and fits well within Kingsbury’s pass-heavy offense. Underrated ability to mirror and matching his opponent’s movements in tight quarters. He would benefit from a year with an NFL OL coach to correct leveraging on blocks, but the framework as a starting guard has been laid down.
Hargrove could carve out a long career, Arizona is a good potential landing spot.
Arizona’s final selection finds a developmental Z-receiver to sit behind Hopkins and Green for the next year plus. Isaiah Mckoy is a talented yet raw vertical receiver. The talent behind their top three receiving options is slim. The Andy Isabella experiment has been fruitless.
Mckoy played in four games during the 2020 season. He averaged 113.7 yards per game and 18 yards per catch. He could be deployed as a designated deep threat early in his career, especially, if this ground game can be weaponized. McKoy will require some coaching and development. He is a late-round draft and stash.
Investing in Kyler Murray is best for business, adding weapons is the proper way to accomplish this goal. My cardinals’ mock draft was designed to improve the present and future.