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.