...Dan Williams, DT from Tennessee.
Most observers agreed that the Arizona Cardinals' most pressing need going into the offseason would be defense, and specifically LB.
Three of their four starting LB's in 2009 were well into their thirties to begin with and of those only Clark Haggans is expected to be back, as Bertrand Berry retired and free agent Chike Okeafor was not tendered. The youngest and most athletically gifted starting LB of the bunch, Karlos Dansby, bolted for a lucrative deal in Miami.
If that were all you knew, you'd think they had no choice but to draft the most promising LB available at pick No. 26. And despite everything else I am about to tell you, they still may.
If Michigan's DE/LB Brandon Graham, Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon, or Texas' Sergio Kindle is available, bank on one of them being in Cardinals red. Unfortunately, in this mock draft and possibly in the real draft, they are already off the board.
Not to mention, the team just signed veteran Joey Porter to a three-year, $17 million contract. They signed Stevie Baggs away from the CFL, and added veteran journeyman Paris Lenon for depth. Together these moves offer Arizona some flexibility in the draft it did not have previously.
If the Cardinals don't think TCU's Jerry Hughes or Daryl Washington, Penn State's Sean Lee, or Florida's Brandon Spikes or any other LBs are enough bang for the buck, they will turn their attention to other areas of pressing need.
One of those areas is NT. Often you'll hear that a 3-4 defense cannot excel without a dominant NT. Enter Dan Williams, a Top-15 talent that has dropped to No. 26 in this mock draft.
The NT from Tennessee is ranked by most as the third-best DT in this year's class, behind likely Top 10 picks Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. He had an impressive combine, pushing his stock higher.
Williams is a space eater, a run stuffer who regularly handles double teams. He is a well rounded, versatile player that offers coveted speed and strength for an interior lineman.
Currently the Cardinals starter is 35-year-old Bryan Robinson. Robinson has been a solid player throughout his 14 years in the league playing for five different teams, but even if he does return to the team this season his retirement is imminent.
Backups Gabe Watson and Alan Branch have never lived up to their potential and are backups. The Cardinals need a large athlete to anchor the D-line, sandwiched in between talented rushers Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell, and Dan is the man to do it.