Since the 2012 season ended, you readers have been bombarded by writers like me with mock draft after mock draft force-feeding you our opinions. You have been gracious, and for that, we thank you.
But now, it is time to tell me what you think. I have compiled a list of four potential first-round picks for the Cardinals. After you get through reading why they are or are not good fits for the team, I want you to tell me which player of the four you want Arizona to draft at No. 7.
There is no right or wrong answer here. I am asking for your opinion, and opinions are never wrong. So be honest, because I am also calling for you to let everyone know in the comments section which player you want and why you want him here.
However, do not let anything I have written here or in past articles sway your opinion. If you disagree with something I have written, this is the forum for you. Let me hear it.
Let’s have fun with this, yes? Here we go.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
This is my No. 1 man-crush of the 2013 draft. Chance Warmack is the best football player coming out of college this season. He is extremely powerful and makes the best defensive tackles look like nothing more than third-rate pee-wee players.
Warmack is an adept pass-blocker, but it is his prowess in the run game that makes him such an attractive target for Arizona.
Would he be the sexiest pick? No, not even close. Offensive guards simply do not get taken in the top 10 anymore. It hasn’t happened since the New Orleans Saints took Chris Naeole No. 10 overall in 1997. Before that, it was Dave Cadigan going to the New York Jets No. 8 overall in 1988.
All told, there have been just 25 guards taken within the top 10 in NFL draft history, and that dates back to 1936. By comparison, in the last 20 drafts there have been 26 tackles taken in the top 10—75 overall since ’36.
Still, though, Warmack represents the biggest upgrade to the team and fills the biggest need on the roster. You can’t ask for anything more than that from a prospect. He would start immediately and be a cog in the lineup for a decade or longer while collecting multiple Pro Bowls and All-Pro honors.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
To get an idea of what teams are going through trying to decide whether Jarvis Jones is worth the risk given his cervical spinal stenosis diagnosis, I will turn to Bleacher Report’s own medical expert, featured columnist Dave Siebert*, to explain his situation:
A number of factors will determine when [Jarvis] Jones’ name is called this April. For instance, each team’s individual medical evaluation and needs at the linebacker position will play prominent roles. Yet in the end, just like all sports medicine decisions, Jones’ value comes down to simple risk versus reward.
Jones is certainly the best linebacker prospect in this year’s class. If a team decides that its linebacker needs outweigh the risk of injury determined by its medical staff, the decision to draft Jones at a high position becomes a no-brainer. […]
On the other hand, if a team believes it will be set at the linebacker position for some time, Jones’ value falls to a much lower level…
And that is the question: How big a need does Jones fill? Is he worth the risk, or can you wait to fill the position in a later round—this is a great draft for pass-rushers, after all.
Jones would start right away and give Arizona the legitimate pass-rushing threat it needs. Whether he is worth the risk at No. 7 is not a choice I want to make.
General manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians have a tough decision ahead regarding that.
*Please, read Siebert’s entire column on Jones. He provides great insight into Jones’ condition, and learning is always a good thing. Plus, it’s a great read. You’ll enjoy it, I promise.
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
I personally am not a fan of this idea. Taking the third-best tackle prospect at No. 7 while presumably avoiding top-rated prospects—and probably better overall players—at multiple other positions just to say they upgraded the blind side is a worse choice than milk on a hot day.
And Lane Johnson is a distant third, at that.
He is still a baby at tackle, having played two years of his life there. He lacks the experience you want from a tackle being made the seventh-overall pick. Potential and upside only get you so far. At some point, the prospect will have had to prove his worth. Johnson did not do that while at Oklahoma. But, he does have potential.
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Eric Fisher is one of a pair of tackles who would be an immediate upgrade over Levi Brown and Nate Potter on the Cardinals roster—the other, of course, being Luke Joeckel.
You really cannot go wrong with either Joeckel or Fisher. Both are exceptional talents who could have multiple All-Pro selections in their futures.
Seemingly the only man willing to put Fisher ahead of Joeckel on his big board, Mike Mayock had this to say (h/t Marc Sessler, NFL.com) in defense of that perception:
This is no way an indictment of Luke Joeckel; I think he’s going to be an All-Pro three years from now. It’s more an indication of my belief that there’s just a little bit more upside with Eric Fisher. He’s a little bit longer, I think he has better feet and he’s a little bit more athletic.
I debunked one of his thoughts on the Joeckel-Fisher situation recently in which Mayock stated Joeckel gets beat to the inside while Fisher does not, which you can read here.
While upgrading the left tackle spot is a good thing, it would create a logjam at the position the Cardinals have never seen in franchise history.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something Keim and Arians will have to take into consideration when on the clock.
So there you have it. Four prospects. One pick. Who should it be?