Arizona Cardinals Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer
The 2014 NFL draft gets kicked off tomorrow night at Radio City Music Hall. The Arizona Cardinals possess six selections total. After a 10-6 record in 2013 and a near playoff berth, the Cardinals will be looking to add impact players on both sides of the ball.
In the Cardinals' ultimate draft primer, we will break down everything you need to know about Arizona's upcoming draft. We will look at a position-by-position big board, a round-by-round breakdown of the team's options and the latest draft buzz.
List of 2014 Draft Picks
The Cardinals have six picks in the 2014 NFL draft. Here's where each of them are:
Position-by-Position Big Board
Blake Bortles, Central Florida
Derek Carr, Fresno State
Tom Savage, Pittsburgh
Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
Donte Moncrief, Mississippi
Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
Geraldo Boldewijn, Boise State
Bishop Sankey, Washington
Terrance West, Towson
Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern
Dri Archer, Kent State
Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
Marcel Jensen, Fresno State
Colt Lyerla, Oregon
Joel Bitonio, Nevada
Weston Richburg, Colorado State
Kevin Pamphile, Purdue
Matt Hall, Belhaven
Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Dee Ford, Auburn
Zach Kerr, Delaware
Tyler Hoover, Michigan State
C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Morgan Breslin, USC
Howard Jones, Shepherd
Jason Verrett, TCU
Marcus Roberson, Florida
Phillip Gaines, Rice
Walt Aikens, Liberty
Deone Bucannon, Washington State
Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt
Lonnie Ballentine, Memphis
Round 1, Pick 20
Team Needs: OLB, SS, QB
With the 20th pick in the draft, Arizona could go one of two ways. It could either draft an edge-rusher to pair with John Abraham at outside linebacker, or it could trade down and acquire additional picks. The latter makes a ton of sense based on the fact the organization only has six picks to work with.
However, if a guy like Anthony Barr (UCLA) were to fall out of the top 15 to No. 20, general manager Steve Keim would have a tough decision to make. As nice as additional picks are, quality edge-rushers are few and far between in this year's draft.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com believes Barr is the sixth-best player in the 2014 draft, which would mean the Cardinals are getting a top-10 talent at No. 20. And we all know they could use the pass-rush help off the edge. In 2013, Abraham was the only player who garnered more than 10 sacks.
Another player they could look at with the 20th pick is Auburn outside linebacker Dee Ford. Ford isn't a top-10 rusher like Barr, but Jeremiah has him at No. 33 overall on his big board.
Here's what Darren Page of Bleacher Report had to say about Ford's pass-rushing ability in his scouting report:
Rushing the passer is Dee Ford's specialty, and it will always be. That means this section of his scouting report dwarfs the others in terms of importance. Obviously his speed and quick first step pay dividends around the corner. Ford's ability to get to the quarterback in more than one way came around as a senior.
One of his traits that shows up no matter what type of move he puts on is a dogged pursuit of the quarterback. He leaves it all on the table. If he can get just a step on a pass-blocker, he's able to ward off their hands and finish at all costs.
If the Cardinals want a top-notch edge-rusher, it looks like they will have to select one on Day 1 of the draft.
Round 2, Pick 20 (52)
Team Needs: SS, QB, OT
If the Cardinals address the team's need for an edge-rusher in Round 1, one should expect them to nab a strong safety or a quarterback with the 52nd pick.
Obviously, the quarterback class is a lot deeper than the strong safety class, so a safety would make sense here. Odds are Lousiville's Calvin Pryor will go off the board in the first round, so Washington State's Deone Bucannon would be a logical choice for Arizona in the second round.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report has Bucannon ranked as the draft's second-best strong safety. Moreover, Miller has him ranked at No. 69 overall on his big board. Yet, the million-dollar question is as follows: Will a team overvalue Bucannon and draft him at the end of the first round?
Opinions on that notion have been split, but NFL Media analyst Curtis Conway says Bucannon "is easily a first round draft pick." If Conway ends up being right, the Cardinals may be inclined to take a quarterback.
Pittsburgh's Tom Savage, Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas, UCF's Blake Bortles and LSU's Zach Mettenberger have all been linked to Arizona based on their stature and playing style.
Round 3, Pick 20 (84)
Team Needs: QB, C, OT
If Arizona is able to snag Bucannon or another safety in Round 2, it would be wise to address the quarterback position in Round 3.
Even though it's hard to tell which players will be available, one would have to believe either Tom Savage, Logan Thomas or Zach Mettenberger will still be on the board at No. 84. Yes, Savage and Thomas have received top-75 love from a few draft analysts, but both signal-callers need a ton of work in terms of their mechanics.
This could scare teams off and force them out of the top 75.
This, in turn, would be good news for the Cardinals. Arizona could draft one of the two quarterbacks and sit them for a year behind Carson Palmer. Savage and Thomas would both benefit from a year on the bench, because it would allow both quarterbacks to refine their mechanics.
Thomas had a private meeting and workout with the Cardinals, so you would think he would be the pick over Savage if it came right down to it.
Round 4, Pick 20 (120)
Team Needs: C, OT, OG
By the fourth round, the Cardinals should have their main positions of need out of the way. This means they could use their last three picks on depth positions.
One of the team's biggest needs in terms of depth is at the center position. Lyle Sendlein has been an average starter for Arizona in the middle of its offensive line, but the Cardinals need to find his eventual replacement sooner rather than later.
Marcus Martin of USC and Weston Richburg of Colorado State will both be gone when Arizona picks at No. 120, yet Travis Swanson of Arkansas and Tyler Larsen of Utah State should still be in play. On Miller's big board, Swanson is rated as the 123rd-best prospect and Larsen is rated as the 183rd-best prospect.
Swanson would be the more sound pick of the two because of his projected ceiling, via Alex Dunlap of Bleacher Report:
Swanson has the height, length, motor, smarts and instincts scouts are sure to love. However, the NFL team that drafts Swanson will do so knowing that he is not a player who will come in guaranteed to crack the starting roster or even contribute significantly early on. With development of strength through his upper body and core—and a continued emphasis on fundamentals— evaluators should feel justified in projecting eventual impact, though.
Despite having limited strength, it sounds like Swanson has everything scouts look for.
With a year on the bench behind Sendlein, Swanson will have the opportunity to improve his strength and make a run at the starting center position in 2015.
Round 5, Pick 20 (160)
Team Needs: OT, OG, CB
Much like their fourth-round pick, the Cardinals could go a wide variety of ways in the fifth round. They could snag an offensive tackle to back up Bobby Massie, draft an offensive guard to battle for the right guard position or select a cornerback to give Todd Bowles' defense added depth on the back end.
Miller of Bleacher Report thinks Arizona should draft a cornerback. In his final mock draft, Miller has the Cardinals selecting Aaron Colvin. Colvin played collegiately at Oklahoma and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2012 and 2013.
Here's what Nolan Nawrocki had to say about Colvin in his scouting report on NFL.com:
Long, smart, tough, zone corner whose body is not built to withstand heavy contact or the aggression with which he likes to play. Will grow on evaluators the more they watch him and has the instincts to eventually compete for a starting job, though teams could always be looking to upgrade his lack of speed and athletic ability. Torn ACL injury suffered at the Senior Bowl will affect his readiness for the season and could drop his draft status by a round or two.
Colvin won't be ready to make an immediate impact in 2014, but could push for a starting job in 2015. If Arizona likes what it sees from Colvin, he might be Antonio Cromartie's eventual replacement at right cornerback since Cromartie is playing on a one-year deal.
Round 6, Pick 20 (196)
Team Needs: OT, OG
After Arizona addressed the team's need at center in Round 4, it could easily grab another interior offensive lineman in Round 6.
The offensive guard position has plenty of depth in this year's draft, which means the Cardinals would be in a position to draft an immediate contributor with their last pick. According to Miller's big board, here are a few names that might be in play at No. 196: Spencer Long (Nebraska), Zach Fulton (Tennessee) and Anthony Steen (Alabama).
Of the three guards mentioned above, Long would be a fantastic pick and a steal in the sixth round, via Dunlap of Bleacher Report:
It might just be the Nebraska uniform, but Spencer Long seems to have a little bit of Richie Incognito's game in him—at least physically. He's barrel-bodied and not particularly long, but he wins with motor and plays like a meathead.
What is not Richie Incognito-esque in Long appears to be his character. His list of academic accomplishments and community service are invaluable to NFL organizations. This is a player who will pick up any concept easily and never be lost. "Lost" linemen are the bane of line coaches' existences. They are for lots of reasons, but the biggest reason is because when players are unsure of themselves, they go at less than 100 percent.
Prior to the injury, Long seemed poised to finish the 2013 season as a player who evaluators could easily rank within the top five to seven college guards entering the NFL draft. Given the injury, he will fall in the process. The team that drafts Long on Day 3 might as well put on a ski mask because it'll be getting a huge steal.
Latest Draft Buzz
Here are the latest rumors that concern the Cardinals as the NFL draft approaches:
- Gayle Saunders of Rotoworld did a phenomenal job of tracking all the prospects the Cardinals worked out or met with.
- If the Cardinals were to pick a quarterback in the draft, Carson Palmer would understand, per Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com.
- Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com says Arizona's lack of depth at inside linebacker will make the position a priority in the draft.