We are less than five days away from what may well be my favorite weekend of the year, and I can’t help but speculate in anticipation of it.
I find myself sitting among numerous Excel documents lined with player names, grade and assessments from a variety of sources, so what better to do than create a mock draft?
I wanted to hold out for as long as possible, but I just can't wait any longer.
So here we have it, my final 2012 mock draft for the Arizona Cardinals.
Your guess as to who falls to this slot is as good as mine.
In my eyes, there are three ideal picks at this spot. The first is Michael Floyd, the other two are Riley Reiff and Melvin Ingram. I imagine that at least two of them will be gone by the time the Cardinals pick, and Arizona should not hesitate to take whomever remains.
For the sake of this mock, I hope that Floyd falls to No. 13. If he does, Arizona will have no qualms about selecting the Notre Dame wide receiver.
In addition, if the Cardinals can find someone to take the heat off Fitzgerald, they’ll be making the life of Kevin Kolb a whole lot easier.
Alternate Options: Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa); Melvin Ingram (DE/OLB, South Carolina).
Despite two impressive seasons at West Virginia, Irvin’s stock was largely discredited at the beginning of the draft process. But after an extraordinary combine performance, Irvin has established himself as one of the most dynamic pass-rushers in the draft.
Irvin is blessed with an ability to rush the quarterback. He had 22.5 sacks in college over the past two seasons. His blistering pace and impressive array of block-shedding moves would make him a consistent sack threat.
The knock on Irvin, however, is that he has rarely been deployed in coverage, and when he has been, he has been largely lackluster. As a result, most teams will be hesitant on pulling the trigger on a player who will not be able to play all three downs.
If you’re Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, though, you would love to add an extra dimension to a defense that was exceptional down the stretch last season.
Alternate Options: Jonathan Massaquoi (DE/OLB, Troy); Nick Toon (WR, Wisconsin); Markelle Martin (S, Oklahoma State).
This might be a bit late to pick Bolden, who if I were to grade the entire cornerback class based on their ability in man-to-man coverage, he would easily be in the top five.
That being said, he is under-sized and coming off an ACL tear that sidelined him for much of last season. Cardinals fans have to hope that is enough to keep him sliding all the way into the fourth round.
But after running a reported 4.5 40-yard dash, I imagine many teams will be interested in him.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cardinals try to make some moves in order to have a better shot at snagging him at the bottom of the third round.
If he’s here at this slot, though, he’ll be one heck of a pick.
Alternate Options: Ryan Broyles (WR, Oklahoma); Brandon Mosley (OT, Auburn); Emmanuel Acho (ILB, Texas).
Those of you who have followed my mocks from the beginning know that I’m a huge fan of Tom Compton.
Coming out of South Dakota, he was essentially an unknown heading into the combine, only to come out with a bit of buzz about his name.
He ran an impressive 5.11 40-yard dash, leaped an impressive 108 inches and ran the 20-yard shuttle in an impressive 4.60. At 6’5” and 314 pounds, there are no questions about his size, either.
All of a sudden, Compton, a 2011 FCS All-American, is turning heads in the scouting world.
Problem is, his size and blue-collar mentality may just slide him into the bottom of the fourth round and out of Arizona’s grasp.
Alternate Options: Andrew Datko (OT, Florida State); Brandon Lindsey (DE/OLB, Pittsburgh).
The Cardinals were pretty successful getting to the quarterback last season. But there is room for improvement at outside linebacker and the need for depth.
As of right now, Joey Porter and Clark Haggans are unsigned (although I fully expect the latter to return). And outside of Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield, there is…well, practically no one.
As a result, it would not be surprising to see the Cardinals double-dip at the pass-rush position, making Jacquies Smith, one of the best players on the board at this spot, a likely target.
Smith is very raw, a little undersized and his explosiveness is often questioned, but he has proven his ability to get to the quarterback at Missouri. He has the speed and athleticism that teams love in their pass-rushers.
Alternate Options: Duke Ihenacho (SS, San Jose State); Jerry Franklin (ILB, Arkansas).
A fan favorite throughout the league, Levy Adcock is without a doubt one of the most underrated prospects in the entire draft.
You are looking at a kid who really doesn’t have a whole lot of faults in his game. He is a great run-blocker, is great against speed-rushers, stout against bull-rushers and has a great football IQ.
He has a tendency to lose leverage to bigger pass-rushers, and his footwork is still a little inconsistent, but aside from that, I’m not sure how you can really fault him.
Adcock didn’t give up a single sack in the 2010 season, which is hugely impressive, and has been an All-Big 12 first-team selection the past two seasons.
By season's end, he could be the solution to the Cardinals’ hole at right tackle.
Alternate Options: Danny Coale (WR, Virginia Tech); Vontaze Burfict (ILB, Arizona State).
When it comes to this point in the draft, snagging a player with above-average athleticism and great versatility is a massive scalp.
Guy has done it all at Kentucky, playing corner, safety and even outside linebacker. This versatility is highly valued in the NFL.
Given the Cardinals’ need for depth at both safety positions, Guy could address that need and in the process develop into a starting-caliber safety.
There is nothing exceptional about Guy’s game, but that being said, there are no large flaws either. He is athletic and talented enough to be groomed into a very decent player.
Perhaps the biggest upside to taking Guy, though, is his ability to contribute on special teams. The Cardinals’ special-teams unit has been impressive over the past few seasons, and Guy can become a crucial part of that..
Alternate Options: Cliff Harris (CB/KR, Oregon); Adrian Robinson (DE/OLB, Temple).