Arizona Cardinals Mock Draft: Post-Free Agency Predictions for Every Round
Carson Palmer being traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Cardinals could shift draft strategy just a bit if you are Bruce Arians and Steve Keim. Although quarterback was likely out of the question anyway at No. 7 overall, taking one in Round 2 (No. 38) or Round 3 (No. 69) could have happened.
Now, though, they can afford to use those picks elsewhere without feeling obligated to grab one if one should fall. Other positions need attending to as well, and Palmer allows those positions to be addressed.
In the trade, the Cardinals received the Raiders’ seventh-round pick (No. 219, by way of the Carolina Panthers) in exchange for a sixth-rounder (No. 176, by way of the Tennessee Titans through the Minnesota Vikings) and a seventh-rounder next year—next year’s is contingent upon Palmer playing 13 or more games in 2013.
Here is your latest Cardinals mock draft, post-free agency edition.
Round 1, No. 7: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The best football player in the draft will start from the moment he steps on the gridiron for the Cardinals and immediately improve the interior of the offensive line.
I have said enough about Chance Warmack over the last few months so that you fans understand why he is the best possible pick at No. 7, so not much more needs to be added.
Getting Palmer an improved line behind which he can stand and deliver passes is important, and that begins and ends with Warmack. He is best suited to play right guard at the next level because of his power in the run game, but he can play on either side if need be.
Round 2, No. 38: Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
Taking Warmack and Larry Warford back to back at the top of the Cardinals’ draft would seem to some like a silly thing to do.
Two guards over skill players surely will hurt them, right?
Not these two guards. Warmack would replace Adam Snyder at right guard, and Warford would replace Daryn Colledge on the left. The two are instant upgrades to both the run and passing games, providing Palmer with what would be a proper pocket to step up into and running backs proper lanes through which they can run.
This tandem would be good early, but they would eventually develop into one of the most fearsome guard duos in the NFL.
Round 3, No. 69: Eric Reid, S, LSU
A big, physical safety, to me Eric Reid is best in the box helping cover tight ends in coverage and defending against the run.
Reid was burned deep by receivers on occasion last season, just as former Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson was throughout his dozen-year career.
With the release of both Wilson and Kerry Rhodes, Arizona is in need of safety help.
Keim is handling his first offseason as the team’s general manager as a seasoned pro would, knowing this draft is especially deep at the safety position and not letting politics and popularity get in the way of bettering the franchise.
With Reid, the Cardinals would have a solid football player who can contribute early on defense. He would not be an immediate starter in the secondary, but the potential is there for him to become a long-term guy back there.
Round 4, No. 103: J.J. Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern
This small-school safety is a big-time player. J.J. Wilcox could play as a dime cornerback in a pinch, but he will be a free safety by day.
He is big, 5’11” and 214 pounds, and fast enough to play center field as the last man deep.
He can cover receivers in press-man coverage and run with them down the field, but don’t sleep on his run-stopping ability. He may not be as heavy-hitting as Jonathan Cyprien, but he is a solid tackler and is willing to wrap up a ball-carrier.
Wilcox did not play against the best competition at GSU, but at the Senior Bowl, he showed he has what it takes to play with better players. He may need more time than Reid to adjust to the speed of the NFL simply because of the difference in competition the two faced. But he will be a good player at the next level.
Round 5, No. 140: Quanterus Smith, DE/OLB, Western Kentucky
You know this name because of my man-crush on him as a player.
I have been mocking Quanterus Smith to Arizona since the season ended, and I would love for him to show up on Day 3 of the draft as a Cardinals draft pick.
Smith is recovering from a torn ACL that ended his senior season prematurely. He did not participate in any postseason All-Star games, the combine nor Western Kentucky’s pro day, held March 22.
Although he may not be ready for Week 1, which will set him back, Smith has as much natural pass-rushing ability as any defender in the 2013 class. He could be a future star if brought along correctly, and with Arizona needing a pass-rusher, he fits the bill perfectly.
Round 6, No. 174: Denard Robinson, WR/KR, Michigan
With Palmer now the starting quarterback in Arizona to run Arians’ vertical attacking offense, he will need a speedy deep-threat receiver to whom he can throw the ball.
Denard Robinson—the former Michigan quarterback-turned-receiver—has the prototypical size and speed of a slot receiver with deep-threat ability.
He reminds me of former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who also played quarterback in the Big Ten at Indiana, before switching to receiver as a pro.
Randle El had a successful career with the Steelers, averaging 40.5 receptions for 503 yards per season while in the Steel City—culminating with a Super Bowl championship, during which he threw a touchdown pass to Pittsburgh receiver Hines Ward.
Will Robinson share the same NFL success? No one can be sure, but in Arians’ offense, he can be used in a variety of different ways, from the slot as a receiver to the backfield as a running back, even as a quarterback in the Wildcat (I’ve heard Arians isn’t a fan of the Wildcat; he would be if he had Robinson).
Round 7, No. 219: Mychal Rivera, TE, Tennessee
Mychal Rivera is not the greatest route-runner among tight ends. In fact, he probably is not near the middle of the pack, either.
His route-running skills need work, but the 6’3”, 244-pound tight end is a capable run-blocker with good hands and an ability to sneak behind the secondary.
During his final season at Tennessee, Rivera recorded 36 receptions for 562 yards and five touchdowns. In four non-conference games, he averaged just 33.3 yards receiving per game. But against his SEC foes, that increased to 53.6 YPG.
Four of his five touchdowns were in conference play as well.
One quick note on Rivera as a blocker: He was left one-on-one with South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney—already presumed to be the 2014 draft's No. 1 overall pick—at times during their SEC matchup, and the tight end held his own against the bigger, stronger defensive end.
Rivera was walked back into quarterback Tyler Bray on one occasion versus Clowney, but the Gamecocks' best defender did not fare well when blocked by Tennessee’s TE.