Arizona Cardinals Mock Draft: Final 7-Round Predictions
Draft week is finally upon us, so let’s go ahead and get in another Arizona Cardinals full seven-round mock draft in order to stir things up one more time before Thursday night.
General manager Steve Keim orchestrated a beautiful symphony of an offseason. First, he signed former Oakland Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer to a five-year, $35 million deal. Keim then added former New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie on a one-year prove-it deal and tight end John Carlson in an under-the-radar move that could be among the best this offseason.
We do think it’s deep enough where I really do think that you are going to get third-round players in the fourth and fifth round, guys who can come in and be immediate impact players for you.
That shows in this mock. How did it go? Let’s find out.
All height/weight and combine information courtesy of NFL.com.
Round 1 (No. 26 Overall): Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Trade: Cleveland sends picks No. 26, No. 83 (Round 3) and No. 127 (Round 4) to the Cardinals for pick 20 of the first round and a future third-round pick. The Browns would use this pick on one of the quarterbacks who may well fall to No. 20 to pair nicely with the wide receiver that they should nab with the fourth overall pick. Cleveland helps a rebuilding offense with this move, while Arizona adds much-needed middle-round picks in this very deep and talented draft.
Former Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller has been shooting up draft boards of late, and it is possible he would not be around at No. 20, let alone No. 26. But this is a mock draft, so he was there. He is simply too good not to pick, as he would easily be the best player on the board at this point.
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles would be ecstatic to add a piece like Fuller to his already solid secondary. With Antonio Cromartie on a one-year deal, there are no guarantees that he will be back for 2015, so Fuller could step in immediately as the nickel corner, allowing Tyrann Mathieu to focus solely on free safety.
Should Cromartie take the money and run next offseason, Fuller would step in as the No. 2 cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson. That would leave a hole at nickel, however, unless the team decides to slide Mathieu into the spot full time or signs a free agent to fill in until a younger player can be groomed to play the ever-important role.
Round 2 (No. 52 Overall): Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The Cardinals signed tight end John Carlson to a two-year, $4.65 million contract this offseason, making him the highest paid inline receiver on the roster.
Carlson has battled injuries throughout his career, missing the entire 2011 season with the Seattle Seahawks due to a shoulder injury. And last season, the Minnesota Vikings placed him on IR after he suffered a concussion during Week 14.
Rob Housler has been a gigantic disappointment through three NFL seasons, having notched just one touchdown reception over that time while averaging 32 receptions for 335 yards and nearly five drops per season.
Therefore, selecting a tight end early on Day 2 could be a possibility. Former Washington standout Austin Seferian-Jenkins would not only fill the pass-catching tight end role, but he might be the best blocking tight end in the draft class as well. He is a powerful, bully-like blocker who is not afraid to take on bigger, stronger pass-rushers.
He doesn’t always win, but he will fight tooth-and-nail with rushers to protect his quarterback. Coaches put him on an island with edge rushers at times, and his lineman mentality took over, allowing him to succeed.
Seferian-Jenkins is a better receiver than some give him credit for. His long arms and big frame (6'5", 262 lbs) will make him the perfect red-zone target for quarterback Carson Palmer and whoever takes the reigns from Palmer in the future.
Pick (No. 83 Overall from CLE): Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
Shiftier than he sometimes shows, former Ole Miss Rebel Donte Moncrief has a big frame (6'2", 221 lbs) with room to add muscle if needed. He will have to work on catching with his hands more consistently, but if he does land in Arizona, that should not be an issue—anyone notice how Michael Floyd progressed from Year 1 to Year 2 after working with Larry Fitzgerald and Co.?
Moncrief is a great athlete with good downfield speed. He showed off that speed at the combine, running the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.40 seconds.
Moncrief may have trouble finding the field with regularity as a rookie, but with Fitzgerald’s cap number reaching an astounding $23.6 million in 2015, it’s possible that the Cardinals will trade him or cut him loose to make room under the cap. You shouldn’t bet on that happening, but they have that option.
With the Cardinals signing Ted Ginn to a three-year, $9 million deal this offseason to be the deep threat head coach Bruce Arians covets, Moncrief would serve as the No. 4 receiver for at least 2014. If things go sour between Fitzgerald and the front office, Moncrief could work his way up to the No. 2 role when Floyd takes over for Fitz.
Pick (No. 84 Overall): Weston Richburg, OC, Colorado State
Arizona would also do well to start thinking of a practical replacement for center Lyle Sendlein. While Sendlein has never been a top center, he has been consistent and durable while serving as the leader along the offensive line.
Former Colorado State center Weston Richburg is one of the best interior offensive linemen in the draft class, and though getting him at No. 84 would present great value, he would not play as a rookie unless Sendlein misses time for any reason.
He was invited to the Senior Bowl, where Richburg impressed with his ability to handle powerful bull-rushers from more prominent programs while also showing the ability to get to the second level. Durable, intelligent and a better athlete than most give him credit for, Richburg is a Top 100 prospect who could ultimately challenge Arkansas’ Travis Swanson to be the first pivot off the board if he can continue to build momentum throughout the draft process.
It would be a great idea for Steve Keim to replace a durable leader with another durable leader, especially given that good centers don’t grow on trees.
Pick (No. 120 Overall): Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
Arizona would do well to add a big, nasty defensive lineman at some point, and Anthony Johnson is definitely that. He can play nose tackle and 3-tech defensive end, with the latter being more likely in Arizona, as Johnson could serve as an eventual replacement for Darnell Dockett.
Johnson is a run-stuffing defensive lineman with a quick get-off and softer hands than you’d expect from a man of his size (6'3", 308 lbs). His interception against Georgia demonstrated that the big man can make plays at big times; it came with the Bulldogs driving at the end of the first half in a tie game.
He won’t ever be a sack machine, but he commanded a double team quite often at LSU and was able to beat them at times by getting small at the point of attack and slipping his 308-pound frame between the blockers.
Johnson’s role in Baton Rouge had him on the field more often in 2013 than former teammate and fellow draft hopeful Ego Ferguson. Both were typically on the field when LSU employed its 4-3 set, but when it switched to a 3-4 look, Ferguson came off the field more often than not, with Johnson sliding down to play nose tackle.
That says a lot about what the Tigers’ coaching staff thought of Johnson.
He would be an instant impact guy as the backup to Dan Williams, while Alameda Ta’amu could continue focusing on rehabbing his surgically repaired knee. His versatility would allow him to move back and forth between nose tackle and left defensive end early, and that is what makes him a solid fourth-round pick.
Pick (No. 127 Overall from CLE): Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
We’ve all used the “Logan Thomas for tight end” joke; it’s warranted.
But Arians and offensive coordinator Tom Moore could probably get the most out of him at quarterback in short time. After all, Thomas fits the mold of former Arians quarterbacks: big and tall, with a big arm and toughness to spare.
His accuracy is very inconsistent, and he sometimes takes too long to get through his progression. Thomas needs at least a year to learn how to be an NFL quarterback, and he will get the time he needs in Arizona.
Palmer has a year left on his current contract, and it’s possible that he will be brought back for another year after that. He could realistically earn a multi-year deal from the Cardinals depending on how he plays in 2014.
That might be the best case for all parties, as Thomas would get at least another full year to sit and learn the ins and outs of NFL quarterback world, and the Cardinals would get to keep Palmer on board with a team itching to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Per a tweet from Virgina Tech assistant coach Bryan Stiney, Arians himself showed up at Virginia Tech’s pro day in early April to watch Thomas work out:
Thomas may not consider waiting up to two years to play an ideal situation, but it would be best for the long-term shape of his career.
Round 5 (No. 160 Overall): Shaquil Barrett, OLB, Colorado State
Early in the offseason, I stumbled upon former Colorado State outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett while watching film of Colorado receiver Paul Richardson (this was before the Ginn signing). Barrett barreled through Richardson on a screen play to get to the receiver and bring him down for a loss, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Barrett looks like he’s never worked out a day in his life, so the fact that he put up only 16 reps on the bench at his pro day on March 12 is not surprising—nor is it a red flag. Once he gets into an NFL weight room, he will add bulk and power; it’s possible that he will transform into a completely different player, in fact.
That’s a good thing in his case. He is naturally strong, so if and when he becomes a gym rat with his drafting team, he could very well become a monster on the field.
He drops into coverage with ease, though he needs to get quicker in order to keep up with more athletic tight ends that he would need to cover on Sundays (the NFC West has a couple of them). That should come with more gym time, no matter which team drafts him.
Round 6 (No. 196 Overall): DeRon Furr, SS, Fort Valley State
You may have seen the short feature I did about a month ago on former Fort Valley State safety/outside linebacker DeRon Furr. (In case you missed it, check it out here.) Furr's path to the draft was truly unique, and he may end up being a late-round gem for an NFL franchise.
Furr is my favorite small-school prospect in this draft—but he wasn’t originally a small-school player. He started his college career as a quarterback at Auburn before extenuating circumstances dictated that he transfer—first to Memphis and then to Fort Valley State.
As a hybrid safety and outside linebacker, Furr displays the ability to deliver crushing blows and natural football instincts that should see him taken late on Day 3. Had he not slipped through the cracks during two transfers, he may have been a high Day 2 pick. He’s 6’2.5” and weighs 232 pounds and flies all over the field.
Can he be a real replacement for Adrian Wilson? I wouldn’t bet against him.