Arizona Cardinals Mock Draft 2013: Who Are the Experts Projecting to Arizona?

Shaun Church@@NFLChurchContributor IFebruary 11, 2013

Arizona Cardinals Mock Draft 2013: Who Are the Experts Projecting to Arizona?

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    NFL mock drafts can be tricky to put together. Taking others’ mock drafts and dissecting them is easier to do, and that is just what will happen throughout this column.

    The Arizona Cardinals sit in a good position at No. 7 in Round 1 of April’s NFL draft, and when the time comes to finally make a selection, there will be good players available at that spot who can make an immediate impact with the team.

    No matter what, the Cardinals are going to get a good football player—be it a lineman, a pass-rusher or even a quarterback. You have seen me denounce taking a quarterback in the first round for months, and while my mindset will not change, the fact is that the top quarterbacks are still good football players.

    They simply are not worth taking in Round 1 with so much other talent available at the top of the draft.

    Here are the players the experts have mocked to Arizona at No. 7 as well as what I think of their picks and analyses.

Rob Rang, CBS Sports

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    The Pick:

    Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California

    Rob Says:

    With Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer all unable to ease the Cardinals' quarterback concerns, the race could be on to find the next option. Barkley has fallen in the eyes of many scouts but we all know how the value of the position rises as the draft approaches […] The knock on Barkley is, of course, that he relied upon terrific receivers while at USC. He'd be able to do the same with Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona. Furthermore, his mobility, intelligence and underrated arm make him a nice fit in new head coach Bruce Arians’ offense.

    Shaun Says:

    The issue here—other than the fact that he has Arizona taking a quarterback in Round 1—is that Rang leaves Eric Fisher on the board. Under no circumstances will new GM Steve Keim, who is widely respected as one of the best talent evaluators in the NFL, leave an immediate impact tackle on the board in order to gamble on a quarterback.

    In fact, so much talent atop the draft could certainly lead to one or more top quarterbacks from this class falling to the back of the first round—or even to the top of the second.

    Barkley could be a good starting quarterback down the road. But to put so much emphasis on the quarterback position—a position that is considered very weak in this particular draft class—this early in the draft is a quick way to kill any possibility of immediate and future success.

    If it works out, then the pick will be celebrated. But if it doesn’t, the team will have wasted a high draft pick on a busted quarterback while leaving a cornerstone offensive lineman on the board for another team to grab.

Walter Cherepinsky,

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    The Pick:

    Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

    Walter Says:

    It doesn’t matter who the quarterback is; if the Cardinals can’t pass protect, that signal-caller will struggle. I can’t imagine Arizona passing on Fisher if he’s available. He’s one of the top prospects remaining, so unless the Cardinals really don’t like him, they’ll select him to be the cornerstone of their new offensive front.

    Shaun Says:

    I had not seen Cherepinsky’s latest mock draft until after I wrote my analysis of Rob Rang’s pick, so I felt it necessary to put the two side-by-side in order to back up what I said about Rang suggesting Barkley over Fisher.

    Fisher is considered to be one of the best prospects in the draft, and he is the logical choice with Luke Joeckel most certainly going before No. 7.

    I laid out a definitive Round 1 strategy for Arizona earlier this month, and I suggested that if Joeckel falls past No. 1, the Cardinals should trade up with the Oakland Raiders to get him at No. 3. I still believe in that idea, and Cherepinsky has Joeckel falling to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 4. So under that specific circumstance, I would say that the Cardinals should still trade up for Joeckel.

    Otherwise, Fisher is the guy.

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report

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    The Pick:

    Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

    Matt Says:

    The Central Michigan product has elite footwork when moving from his left tackle position. While there were times that Fisher got too high in his stance or hand placement this year, those are all coachable aspects of his game. The things you can't teach—footwork especially—grade out exceptionally high for Fisher.

    Shaun Says:

    Miller picks Fisher to Arizona at No. 7, but he also suggests that the Cardinals may trade up ahead of the Detroit Lions to get him if Joeckel goes No. 1 to the Kansas City Chiefs. I don’t feel as though that would be necessary, as there is very little chance that Detroit would take Fisher at No. 5 after having just taken Riley Reiff last year in Round 1.

    The only other team that has been mocked to take a tackle ahead of Arizona—other than Kansas City—is Philadelphia, and that pick has been Joeckel. Should he indeed go to Kansas City, the Eagles would be best served to take either a pass-rusher or a defensive back. They have a greater need for defensive help, and with the possibility they may have to move cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and his massive contract, CB Dee Milliner of Alabama would be their best selection.

    With that logic, Fisher would fall to Arizona at No. 7 and there would be no need to trade up for him.

Mel Kiper, ESPN

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    The Pick:

    Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

    Mel Says:

    Until we see major strides by one of the QB options, Arizona is better off adding a key piece it can start right away and looking for a QB in Round 2, or trading up into the late first. And remember, the Cardinals may have moved on a QB in free agency or via a trade by April. Fisher isn't a big name, but he's as good as any tackle in this class outside of Joeckel.

    Shaun Says:

    While Kiper is correct in saying Fisher is as good as any tackle in the draft other than Joeckel, Fisher is not far behind Joeckel. Is he a “1b” to Joeckel’s “1a”? Not exactly, but they could end up having similar careers, laden with multiple Pro Bowl and All-Pro appearances.

Michael Schottey, Bleacher Report

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    The Pick:

    Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

    Michael Says:

    This is a reach, but my No. 1 maxim of drafting is that teams that don't have a quarterback need to find one. […] Wilson has all the tools to be a great NFL starter. Pair him with Bruce Arians and even better things could happen. He's got good arm strength and solid mechanics, but he tends to trust his arm a little too much. He's also gutsy—almost to a fault.

    Shaun Says:

    Schottey’s No. 1 maxim is fine, but with no definite first-round talent available at quarterback in this draft, why risk the present and future of a franchise on a reach? It is best to take a sure thing this high in the draft, and failing to do so can bring horrendous consequences.

    Anyone remember Blaine Gabbert going to Jacksonville at No. 10 overall two years ago? How has that worked out for the Jaguars so far?

    Maybe the Cardinals will find a trade they like, or maybe they will feel that a free-agent QB is the way to go. Arians may even stick with what he’s got for a season to properly evaluate and coach up Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.

    Drafting a quarterback for the simple reason that they need one is not the way to go about handling this pick.

Todd McShay, ESPN

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    The Pick:

    Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

    Todd Says:

    The Cardinals have a glaring need at quarterback, and with [new head coach] Bruce Arians bringing a vertical attack to Arizona that makes NC State QB Mike Glennon the best fit there. But he might not be worth the pick. The Cards' No. 2 need is at offensive tackle, and Fisher has the feet, length and balance to move into the starting role at left tackle. That would allow aging, injury-riddled Levi Brown to move to the right side, where he is a better fit.

    Shaun Says:

    The pick is good, but McShay’s final thought is way out of whack. Levi Brown has been healthy throughout his career other than this season—he hadn’t missed a game since his rookie season before tearing his triceps during the 2012 preseason. In fact, Brown was one of only eight offensive tackles to start every regular-season game from 2008-2011.

    Additionally, the only other place Brown would likely be moved to is inside to guard. Bobby Massie did lead the NFL with 13 sacks allowed as a rookie, but they all came in the first half of the season. He was among the best right tackles in football from Week 9 on.

    In fact, Massie and the Atlanta Falcons’ Tyson Clabo were the only right tackles to start every game and not allow a single sack over the back half of the season.

Daniel Jeremiah,

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    The Pick:

    Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

    Daniel Says:

    There is a lot of buzz out there that the Cardinals are high on N.C. State QB Mike Glennon. I could very easily see them shoring up the left tackle position with Fisher and then trying to trade into the bottom of the first round to snag Glennon.

    Shaun Says:

    Jeremiah picks well for Arizona here, but what intrigues me is his thought on trading back into Round 1. The idea of trading back up into the bottom of the first round to take a quarterback—we will use Mike Glennon since that is the example given—is not a bad one, especially if Kansas City takes Joeckel at No. 1.

    If Arizona feels it must do so, trading up into the first would not cost much by way of draft picks. Using the pick value chart, trading picks with, say, the Baltimore Ravens at No. 32 would cost the Cardinals their second-round pick (38) as well as their fourth-round pick (102).

    Moving up six positions from the top of the second to the bottom of the first round for only a fourth-round draft choice is well worth it considering the talent Glennon possesses. He is not a great choice at the top of the first round, but giving up a fourth-rounder to get him at the bottom of the round makes a bit more sense. If there is only one “top” quarterback left by that time, however, it could turn into a bidding war with anyone else wanting to trade up.

    In that instance, it may be wise to let it go and stay put.