10 IN 10: ARIZONA CARDINALS
There are now just days left until the NFL Draft. The ‘10 in 10’ series looks at each team picking in the top ten, having started with the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday and finishing with the Cincinnati Bengals next Thursday. For a more considered, in-depth look at the perfect picks for each team check out the good work of my fellow contributors at The Touchdown here:
For the purposes of simplicity, no trades will be considered in this countdown unless they occur in the days leading up to the draft itself. Each article will look at individual team needs before deciding on the right pick for each franchise, whilst also considering some alternatives at that spot.
The Arizona Cardinals, who picked Kyle Murray with the #1 overall pick last year, showed some signs of developing into a successful franchise under new Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury in 2019. Where will they go with the #8 pick in 2020?
#8: ARIZONA CARDINALS
Before fleecing The Houston Texans in the trade that brought DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona, it seemed as though the Cardinals would be taking a wide receiver in the first round. Oklahoma wideout CeeDee Lamb seemed the obvious choice, which would allow him to reunite with his former Sooner signal caller Kyler Murray. However, the arrival of Hopkins from Houston has satisfied their need for a deep-threat in the passing game.
Murray has shown a unique ability to run with the ball, though at times the situation is forced when defenders break through his offensive line. Granted, the offensive line did a better job of protecting Murray than they did Josh Rosen, improving significantly in 2019, but there is more work to be done. Some have even suggested that Murray is responsible for a significant portion of his sacks, with the Cardinals offense performing much better when protecting their passer in the pocket compared to when he takes off.
THE 'HAWKEYE HULK'
Therefore, expect the Cardinals to bolster their line with Tristan Wirfs, right tackle out of Iowa. Wirfs was the star of the Combine among the offensive lineman, impressing with his physicality and agility. Some have suggested that Wirfs’ future in the league is at guard rather than tackle, and this versatility will stand him in good stead over his draft classmates.
DJ Humphries only signed a contract extension in February (3 years, $45m), which means that they will be looking to shore up the right side of the line, and are therefore likely to pass on Mekhi Becton. Kyler Murray’s performances last year coupled with the dual threat of DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald on the outside means that the Cardinals are ready to push for a playoff spot.
INDULGING ON DEFENSE?
Kingsbury may be tempted to improve on defense and take linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson or defensive tackle Derrick Brown here. Adding some pass-rush to Chandler Jones, be it from the edge or the interior, is definitely a priority. However, they will be better able to address that side of the football with their second round pick than finding a starting lineman. Wirfs can help Arizona improve in what is going to be a competitive and fascinating NFC West in 2020.
TOM WATCHED HIS FIRST EVER NFL GAME AT AN EX’S HOME IN NORTH CAROLINA IN 2013 AND “ENCOURAGED” TO SUPPORT THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS. ONE BREAK-UP AND FOUR YEARS LATER, HE SWITCHED ALLEGIANCE TO THE JETS AND HAS BEEN OBSESSED WITH THE GAME EVER SINCE. TOM CAN BE FOUND ON TWITTER AT @DOWNTHEMANNYRD