The Arizona Cardinals were the worst team in the NFL for 2018 and were awarded the top overall pick in the draft. They have many holes to fill on their team but have nine selections. Which direction will they go?
The Cardinals looked terrible last year and poor Josh Rosen took a beating. He was sacked the seventh most times in the NFL behind one of the worst offensive lines. Rosen shoud be fine but they need to give him help on the line. They also need to give Rosen another outside receiving option. Christian Kirk looks great and Larry Fitzgerald should man the slot but outside of them this team is thin. The Cardinals are in a position where they just need to add the best talent that they can. Lets see what they do.
Round 1, Pick #1 Quinnen Williams, Defensive Line- Alabama
Nick Bosa may be the consensus number one pick but he does not fit the Cardinals defensive scheme that well. The Cardinals employ a base 3-4 set which would move Bosa to an outside linebacker. Not to say he could not adapt but his natural position is a base 4-3 defensive end. Williams on the other hand could thrive in any three of the line positions of the base 3-4 and he is also a monster.
In only 24 games Williams racked up 91 tackles (56 solo), 26 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks and a pass defended. Almost one third of his tackles happened behind the line of scrimmage. Put him next to a veteran like Cory Peters and youngster Robert Nkemdiche and the front line seems quite powerful. The pass rush tandem of Williams and Nkemdiche could become very difficult to block.
Round 2, Pick #33 Andre Dillard, Offensive Line- Washington St.
Andre Dillard is a very good offensive lineman. He uses his hands very well blocking to create space. With a great balance for his size he handles the bull rush well and stays in front of his man. He is a three year starter in a pass first offense. Rosen was sacked far too much when dropping back last year and Dillard is an instant upgrade at tackle.
Reese Odhiambo was the starting left tackle for the Cardinals. He received a promotion from the practice squad after he was released from the Falcons. That just shows how thin the offensive line is, a practice squad player starting at right tackle is a recipe for disaster. Dillard should come in and start right away.
Round 3, Pick #65 Parris Campbell, Wide Receiver- Ohio St.
Parris Campbell is fast, he is very fast. Unofficially he ran a 4.26 second 40 yard dash being hand timed. He also has decent size for an outside receiver standing 6’1 and 208 Lbs. Campbell had a stellar Senior year at Ohio St. coming up with 90 receptions for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns. He averaged a solid 12.4 yards per reception over his time at Ohio St. which should intrigue the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have two good receivers in Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald though spends most of his time lined up in the slot and the Cardinals need another outside receiver, especially one with speed. Kirk is not a burner and never will be. Campbell can come right in and start opposite of Kirk outside and be the over the top threat the Cardinals so desperately need.
Round 4, Pick #104 Jace Sternberger, Tight End- Texas A&M
Ricky Seals-Jones is not the answer for the Cardinals at tight end, he proved that last year. They had high expectations for him and he just did not perform. Jace Sternberger is a great option as a move tight end as he has good size and hands. He does a great job at catching the ball away from his body with strong hands and is good catching at the high point with full extension. Sternberger is real solid at run blocking at the line of scrimmage as well.
Sternberger is fast and linebackers have a tough time keeping up with him. He is kind of like a poor mans George Kittle as he is great at tacking on yards after the catch with this speed. During his Junior year he had 48 receptions for 832 yards with 10 touchdowns. He has shown big play capability averaging 17.3 yards per reception in 2018. The red zone seems to be a place he can excel at as well as he has mastered the back shoulder fade. He could easily become one of Rosen’s favorite targets.
Round 5, Pick #140 Chase Hansen, Linebacker- Utah
Chase Hansen is the selection here for his ability to play multiple positions and play multiple positions well. He has played everywhere quarterback, to safety, to linebacker. Hansen was never going to be a starting quarterback so he converted to defense where he started out at safety. Playing two seasons and 21 games at the position he totaled 141 tackles (85 solo), 10 tackles for a loss, two sacks, 11 passes defended, four interceptions, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and two touchdowns.
His best season though came during his senior year when he converted to linebacker. He stands at 6’3 and 230 Lbs. which fits the mold of the more athletic linebackers in the NFL today. During his Senior year he totaled 114 tackles (70 solo), an amazing 22 tackles for a loss, five sacks, four passes defended, two interceptions, one fumble recovery and a touchdown. Hansen can come in and play either outside or inside linebacker as well as safety. His versatility is something that the Cardinals should highly covet.
Round 6, Pick #175 Dru Samia, Offensive Lineman- Oklahoma
If Dru Samia falls into the sixth round, which is a possibility, the Cardinals should not think twice and make him the selection. We already touched earlier that the offensive line is a point of weakness for the Cardinals and Rosen is a pocket passer. They desperately need to upgrade the line. Dru Samia is the reigning Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the year.
He thrives in a zone blocking scheme but is not limited to it. He anchors well and the bull rush normally will not succeed. Secondary moves do sometimes win as he is found flat footed at times. Samia understands his job well and has a very good football IQ and uses leverage very well. Even though Samia comes off the board in the sixth round he still likely comes in to start.
Round 7, Pick #250 Sutton Smith, Edge Rusher- Northern Illinois
Sutton Smith was a machine in the Mid Atlantic Conference. He made a living in opposing teams backfields coming up with an absurd amount of tackles for a loss and sacks in his collegiate career. The only reason he drops to the seventh round in the draft is because of his tweener size for the edge rush position. That does not negate his crazy motor and college production.
In three seasons and 37 games he totaled 139 tackles (93 solo), 58.5 tackles for a loss, 30 sacks, four passed defended, seven forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and three touchdowns. Although he played in 10 games his Freshman season he barely actually saw the field. 56.5 of his tackles for a loss and 29 of his sacks came during his last two seasons and last 27 games. That type of production is unheard of. The Cardinals could use another outside linebacker to pair with Chandler Jones and if even a little of that NCAA production translates to the NFL than he will be a steal.
Round 7, Pick #251 Joe Giles-Harris, Linebacker- Duke
If it were not the lack of athleticism from Giles-Harris than he would probably be more of a mid round selection. Since he is not an elite athlete low his stock drops even though he celebrated a solid NCAA career. He is a solid run stopper and knows how to hit and tackle. While a run play develops he finds the gaps well and where he lacks in athleticism he makes up for in football smarts.
With multiple seasons with over 100 total tackles Giles-Harris has proved to have top notch tackling ability. The Cardinals are thin at inside linebacker. Josh Bynes is more of a stop gap, Deone Bucannon is a free agent, and Haason Reddick has been inconsistent and may be better suited for outside linebacker duties. This leaves solid opportunity for Giles-Harris to actually make an impact his rookie season. If he can win a starting job and being in a conference that predominantly chooses to run the ball, Giles-Harris could approach the 100 tackle mark his rookie season.
Round 7, Pick #256 Iman Marshall, Cornerback- USC
Iman Marshall is a former five star recruit out of high school. Marshall is explosive and fast which allows him to keep up with most receivers. He has very good hips and turns and runs very well. Where he does lack is length as he does not have long arms and is not great in press coverage. He can be attacked with jump ball type throws or over the top. All that said the Cardinals can wait to the seventh round to grab a cornerback due to signing Robert Alford.
Marshall has great ability and athleticism, he just needs a good teacher to help him put everything together. Luckily for the Cardinals they have veteran corner Patrick Peterson who is one of the best in the business. If anything Marshall can add to the depth at the corner position and compete during camp for a roster spot.
The Cardinals do a good job in this mock grabbing two very talented offensive lineman to protect Josh Rosen. They also put a focus on grabbing an outside speedster to add to their pass catching corps and a real good tight end as well. During this mock they really just grab talent as guys like Sutton Smith and Chase Hansen can play multiple positions while being productive. I also really like their late round picks as they grab a heady linebacker with good college production and a former five star recruit cornerback. Many of the picks in this mock will make an impact their rookie seasons and it looks like a good haul for the Cardinals.
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