We’re coming into the final stretch for the N.F.L. draft and we have all but a few first editions of full team mock drafts. One of the few remaining mocks is for the Arizona Cardinals. A team that had been down and out for a long time before nearly reaching the pinnacle of the sport a few short years ago with Kurt Warner at the QB position took a major step back last season, in very large part because of their QB play. Let’s take a look at the Cardinals needs before we get into the mock draft. I’ve held off on this draft because I knew I would be interviewing with Eugene Stasak, drafttek’s Arizona Cardinals correspondent.
QB: Clearly the biggest need for the Arizona Cardinals is at the QB position, where they have, as the draftek Cardinals analyst wrote: They have, by far, the worst QB situation in the league with an UDFA, a late round project, and a terrible Derek Anderson.
OLB: They are very old at OLB and besides that they were not productive at that spot last year. Calais Campbell led the team with 6 sacks last year which is not good. If Von Miller is available at 5th overall it seems like a lock.
OL-What do you get with bad OL play and an unstable QB Position? A top five draft selection. Faneca is old, Levin Brown hasn’t been great and they could upgrade across the board at the line.
CB-DRC has flashed big potential, but hasn’t been great, and they could upgrade across from him as well.
1st round Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
I think the Cardinals are going to go the route of a veteran QB because new coaches mean new quarterbacks while tenured coaches are gun-shy about pulling the trigger on a QB because they are not afforded the same latitude with their job safety as new coaches are, which makes it difficult to take a QB early. I don’t know if Ken Wisenhunt is on the hot seat or not, but he might feel it if he starts a rookie QB all year this year. Look for them to consider Kevin Kolb, Donovan Mcnabb or another veteran option.
Peterson is considered the best prospect in this class by many and has tremendous upside. last year the Cardinals also were very poor on punt returns (Breaston wasn’t returning any) and Peterson gives them a dynamic option as a punt returner if they choose to use his talents as a returner.
2nd round: Jabaal Sheard, OLB, Pittsburgh
Sheard is a player that can sneak into the first round and is good value here in the second round. Sheard could be best summed up by Wes Bunting:
impression: Isn’t quite the long, sudden athlete that Romeus is, but he’s a more technically sound pass rusher who can certainly get after the quarterback in his own right. After watching him on tape, I really think the guy will have the ability to be a solid NFL pass rusher who can reach the QB in a variety of ways.
Sheard will give the Cardinals that versatile 4-3 DE, 3-4 OLB that will fit their system at good value in the second round.
3rd round: Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
I know his stock seems to be on the rise, but I have a hard time believing that 8 quarterbacks will all go in the first two rounds (the big four, plus Dalton, Ponder, Stanzi, and Kaepernick) and one of them should fall. If so the Cardinals could consider that player here in the early third round, especially if the QB they wind up with is Donovan McNabb. Kaepernick has high upside with a good arm and good mobility and is worth the risk here for a team that still lacks a franchise signal caller for the future.
4th Round: Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU
Barksdale is an underrated prospect, who doesn’t get the love he deserves as a productive technician, athletic all around linemen. In the fourth round he is good value and could become a starter on the pathetic Cardinals offensive line. Barksdale has a good deal of upside and provides both the positional and big board value teams desire at this point in the draft.
5th Round: Denarius Moore, WR, Tennessee
I don’t want to mock the same WR in the mid-rounds as I’ve done over and over because it’s unrealistic that every team will get great value with a WR who falls because of size, speed, injury, or character concerns. Moore has good size to speed ratio and can stretch the field, which will be a nice addition to the Cardinals roster, especially if they get a player like Mcnabb who can throw the ball down the field.
6th round: Roy Helu, RB, Nebraska
I recognize that Running back is not the teams biggest need, but Beanie Wells has had a lot of struggles staying healthy and teams always look to add talent to the running back position when they can. This late in the draft teams want to find players who can make the roster. This RB class is not great at the top, but it’s good throughout and there are going to be some good value picks at the running back position late in the draft. Helu is one of those players.
6th Round: Alex Linnenkohl, C, Oregon State
This is a position that is not great in the draft, but has a few players who can develop into starters in the league. A hot name right now is Brandon Fusco of Slipper Rocky so I think he’ll go earlier than this. Jake Kirkpatrick and Tim Barnes will also go off the board before Linnenkohl, but at this point he’s too hard to pass up for a team that is looking to upgrade all along the offensive line. Linnenkhol might not win a starting job this year, but he could develop into a starter sooner rather than later.
7th Round: Shiloh Keho, S, Idaho
Again, I’ll direct you to National Football Post:
Has a passion for the game, is the leader on the defensive side of the ball and is a guy who all his teammates seem to really around. Impression: More of your traditional in-the-box type strong safety prospect, a position that is starting to die out in the NFL. Should be able to make a roster, but could be used more as a nickel backer because of his limitations in pass coverage.
At this point in the draft teams must find players they think can make roster and Keo is one of those players because he doesn’t have a great position in the N.F.L. draft, but is a player teams will love to have on their roster.
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