NFL Draft Picks Who Would Be Instant Starters for Arizona Cardinals
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Arizona’s depth-chart needs are no secret: left tackle, right guard, quarterback and pass-rusher.
Some starting positions, however, won't be able to be filled in this draft. The class of quarterbacks is deep only in number. The top-end talent just is not there. Will there be teams that reach in the first round for one of these quarterbacks?
Absolutely. Teams feel obligated to do so based on the high-octane, pass-heavy offenses that are in vogue. But it does not always work out the way franchises hope.
Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, Blaine Gabbert and Tim Tebow all were first-round picks who should have been taken later in the draft.
What rookies will start from Day 1 for the Cardinals? Some answers may surprise you.
Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M
This pick should not surprise you. Luke Joeckel is to pass-blocking what Aaron Rodgers is to passing.
Yes, he is that good.
Some feel he may not be there when the Cardinals pick at No. 7, but should he be, Joeckel would be the choice and would start immediately.
He will be a blind-side protector for a decade or longer, health permitting. Making him the cornerstone to an offense that struggled beyond belief in 2012 would be a great start for new coach Bruce Arians.
Arians said he will be devoting multiple coaches to the offensive line, according to azcardinals.com, something Arizona did not have under Ken Whisenhunt.
Joeckel can be put on an island against an opponent’s best pass-rusher, and that player more often than not won’t even sniff the quarterback.
Eric Fisher, LT, Central Michigan
Senior Bowl week was a time for Eric Fisher to show his worth among the college game’s best draft-eligible players.
He did that—and more—all week in Mobile, Ala., but could he really overtake Joeckel as the first tackle taken in April?
That seems unlikely right now, but there are still many workouts to get through: the NFL Scouting Combine, player Pro Days and more.
Fisher is long and athletic. He showed during Senior Bowl week he can dominate even the best pass-rushers the college game has to offer, and this draft’s class of pass-rushers is among the deepest in recent years.
He may not be on Joeckel’s level overall, but he would be an upgrade for the Cardinals at an inconsistent position and would start from Day 1.
The video above is his performance against Michigan State. Watch the first play, as it is a great example of his ability and strength. In this play, he blocks 6'2", 330-pound Anthony Rashad White (No. 98) into star pass-rusher William Gholston (No. 2), saving his quarterback from being sacked.
Blocking two players at once? Nice.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Said to be the best offensive guard prospect since the mid-90s, Chance Warmack is as dominant as any player in this draft and then some.
The 6’3”, 320-pound war machine is a bruiser in every sense of the word.
If you haven’t seen him run-block, watch the tape against LSU from last season. He turns rushers so easily to create holes, it’s as if he were an actual bulldozer moving tons of dirt.
His domination of Tigers DT Ego Ferguson (No. 9 in the video) is stunning. Ferguson stands eye level with Warmack and is only 10 pounds lighter than the soon-to-be first-rounder, but Warmack tosses him like a rag doll on several occasions.
Warmack gets to second-level defenders easily and pulls equally effortlessly. He played mostly left guard at Alabama. But since Daryn Colledge mans that spot with the Cardinals, the rookie would shift to right guard to replace Adam Snyder.
Snyder, who has never been anything more than average, would give way to the 21-year-old and, for what it’s worth, should be cut from the roster entirely.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young
With Todd Bowles taking over as defensive coordinator, there's a high probability that the Cardinals will switch back to a base 4-3 defense. If they so choose, Arizona could give Bowles a raw pass-rushing monster by drafting Ziggy Ansah.
He came from Ghana to BYU as a sprinter who was attempting to make a name for himself in America.
What he did instead, after only three years of football, was generate a buzz at Senior Bowl week and lock his name into the first round of the NFL draft.
He could be a middle to high first-round pick. And if the Cardinals decide to trade back to add picks in the unlikely event that Joeckel, Fisher and Warmack are off the board, Ansah would be a wonderful fit as a hybrid 4-3 defensive end/3-4 outside linebacker.
His power is a sight to behold, and though his knowledge of the game is still in its infancy, he has the potential to become the next great defensive end, much like Jason Pierre-Paul or Cameron Wake.
Ansah is 6’5” and weighs 274 pounds. He is expected to run his 40-yard dash in the 4.70-second range at the combine. The straight-line speed he possesses is fine, but he will make his money in the NFL by beating offensive linemen around the edge and on occasion by a stunt—as shown in the first play of the video above.