I wrote a piece in February similar to that which you are about to read. At the time, most mockers had former Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher going No. 7 to Arizona, so that made it difficult to make it as wide-spread as I wanted it to be.
This one is much more diverse, however, as in recent weeks, Fisher has started shooting up mocks and people have begun to realize he may not be available to the Cardinals with the seventh pick.
That also means there are some odd-ball picks from some reputable football minds. Don’t scratch your head too much at some of these, it’s still a month before the draft and people’s opinions—present company included—could change drastically by then.
Your updated look at the experts’ take on the No. 7 pick:
Who’s picking Fisher
Why Fisher is a good pick
Eric Fisher has been on a steady climb up mock drafts and mock boards since tackles Taylor Lewan (Michigan) and Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) announced they would return to school for their respective senior seasons.
But Fisher likely had been high on NFL teams’ big boards all along. The media hype on Lewan and Matthews buried Fisher because the former two come from big schools that face big competition, while the latter comes from a lesser-known Mid-American Conference school that faces lesser competition.
He is the real deal.
It can be said that offensive tackle is not the biggest “need” on Arizona’s roster. Right tackle Bobby Massie showed promise over the back half of his rookie season, and left tackle Levi Brown is set to return from injury.
Despite Brown’s return, Fisher would start immediately on the left side, leaving the former No. 5 overall pick for depth at either side.
He may not be happy with it, but being on the roster in Arizona is better than searching for work elsewhere. There is no guarantee he would be picked up anywhere given his past and recent injury.
Who’s picking Joeckel
Why Joeckel is a good pick
Luke Joeckel is a phenomenal pass-blocker. He is quick off the ball and strong at the point of attack. His upper-body length gave him an advantage over pass-rushers at the college level, and it will continue to be an asset when he begins his NFL career.
It is very doubtful Joeckel falls to the Cardinals at No. 7, but if he does, he would be plugged in at left tackle and left there for the next dozen or so years while he piles up Pro Bowls and All-Pro honors.
Who’s picking Johnson
Why Johnson is a bad pick
Yes, the blind side can be upgraded through the draft. But taking a chance on a raw talent such as Lane Johnson is not something general manager Steve Keim would do.
A good left tackle is of vital importance in the NFL, and while Johnson may be considered “good”—or better—at some point, he is not ready to be a dominant professional lineman.
He began his career as a quarterback at Oklahoma before moving to tight end and finally tackle after gaining weight and slowing down some. He is plenty quick for the position, but his hips don’t sink low enough most of the time, and he is not yet strong enough to set anchor on speed rushers as he meets them in the backfield.
He would be run over by many of the NFL’s pass-rushers, and I don’t understand the high first-round grade being placed on his head by many mockers.
Who’s picking Mingo
Why Mingo is a bad pick
There are better pass-rushers to be had at No. 7 than Barkevious Mingo. Better outside linebackers, as well. Jarvis Jones or Ezekiel Ansah would be better picks.
Mingo won’t be the immediate impact player Jones or Ansah will be, and the seventh overall pick is an area in which teams are looking to add immediate starters to the roster, not potential ones for down the road.
While Ansah is raw, he would play early and contribute regardless. He is that good an athlete.
Who’s picking Jones
Why Jones is a good pick
Outside linebacker O’Brien Schofield has not been the productive player Arizona thought he would be coming out of the 2009 draft. He is a solid player, but as a pass-rusher he does not make the grade.
Jarvis Jones is one of the best pure pass-rushers in the 2013 draft, and he would be an acceptable selection to pick up the slack left by Schofield.
It’s more than sack numbers with Jones. While he did lead the NCAA with 14.5 sacks last season and finish second in 2011 with 13.5, he is disruptive on more plays than not to the point that quarterbacks must account for him at all times.
If they lose track of where he is on any given play, they are in trouble. Knowing you have less time to make a decision with the football is one thing; not knowing where he’s coming from would be detrimental to one’s health.
Who’s picking Ansah
Why Ansah is a good pick
Whereas Lane Johnson is not a good choice at No. 7, Ezekiel Ansah is. He is as raw a pass-rusher as Johnson is a pass-protector, but the position he plays is not as vitally important, so he can be brought along slowly if need be.
With Ansah, however, his athleticism and natural football instinct are enough to get the job done while he becomes a complete defender.
Who’s picking Cooper
Why Cooper is a bad pick
Pete Prisco has long been considered one of the most respected football writers around. Often, though, he says or writes things that make little sense to anyone.
This is one of those times.
The Cardinals need an upgrade on the interior of the line. But leaving Chance Warmack on the board—the best interior lineman prospect since (enter a perennial All-Pro guard’s name here)—to make this pick is interesting to say the least.
Jonathan Cooper is more athletic than Warmack, there’s no doubt about that—he’s the most athletic guard in the draft. But that doesn’t mean he’s better than Warmack.
There is little to no chance Cooper is off the board before Warmack.
Who’s picking Warmack
Why Warmack is a good pick
Chance Warmack has been called the “safest” pick of the draft by several draftniks. That is nothing more than a cop-out for saying he is the “best” pick of the draft.
If he is the best football player available, why not call him the best pick?
Teams drafting for need in Round 1 likely will shy away from him. Though guard is a need for Arizona, Warmack also happens to be the best player who may be available at No. 7.
Drafting offensive guards in the top 10 is NFL taboo of late, but Warmack is worth the pick.
The problem with the Cardinals’ line is that there is no push from the interior. Right guard Adam Snyder has a bad habit of being pushed into the backfield on both running and passing plays, and if the offense is to be successful going forward (figuratively speaking), that must stop.
Warmack never gets pushed around. He makes grown men look like rag-dolls being tossed about.
This pick is, indeed, the
Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Who’s picking Wilson
Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California
Who’s picking Barkley
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Who’s picking Smith
Why every quarterback is a bad pick
Head coach Bruce Arians said recently (via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com) that drafting for need over value is a bad idea:
I think all speculators look at need and not the draft board. If you draft for need, you’re in trouble. Just because you need one you don’t take one—if there is a better player there who is going to help your football team. […] If there is a quarterback who fits the spot in the draft that you put him in at, that fits the value, then you take one.
If a player on Keim and Arians’ draft board is ranked higher than a quarterback, that player—no matter who he is or what position he plays—will be the pick at No. 7.
Sticking with the big board is the best way to build a winning football team through the draft. If you deviate from the plan, then why have a big board at all? Drafting the best players at the areas of biggest need rarely works out.
As in the past, I point to Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder for examples of drafting for need.