Perfect Picks: Arizona Cardinals
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight four players that could help each team. This will feature picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper.
It appears the Cardinals believe they are on the cusp of something special. An exciting offensive mind in Kliff Kingsbury, an athletic QB in Kyler Murray; the hope is they can improve from 8-8. They have invested heavily in veterans like JJ Watt and AJ Green. That and a successful rookie class may make them a contender in the NFC West.
Round 1 - Pick 16 - Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
The Cardinals have found a couple of nice pieces to build their secondary around. The selections of both Budda Baker and Byron Murphy via the draft mean they have plenty of talent to develop in the backfield. That being said, with the departure of Patrick Peterson they could still do with a true no.1 lockdown cornerback.
Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley has the upside to be that kind of player. Athletically gifted, Farley is relatively new to the position. His ability to close on the ball and his physical traits mean he has the highest ceiling of any cornerback in this draft cycle. He may face a draft day drop in stock though, after undergoing offseason surgery on a recurring back problem. That injury history plus his decision to opt out in 2020 mean he could fall into Arizona’s hands at this pick.
Round 2 - Pick 49 - Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
The Cardinals moved on from David Johnson in the trade that landed them DeAndre Hopkins. They filled the running back spot with Kenyan Drake. Now Drake has also departed the Cards have a dwindling stable of backs. Chase Edmonds and Eno Benjamin have flashed potential but there is room to add a true workhorse into the mix.
While Arizona could seek to address the spot with better value in the later rounds, grabbing Javonte Williams in the mid second round would be a steal. Some draft analysts have Williams ahead of Najee Harris in their rankings and it’s clear why. Williams is a powerful runner, who combines speed and tackle breaking ability. That paired with his usage in the passing game make him a nice fit for how versatile Kliff Kingsbury wants his backfield to be. Having split time with Michael Carter in North Carolina, the tread is relatively fresh on Williams’ tyres.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 160 - Robert Hainsey, iOL, Notre Dame
The Cardinals made a splash recently as they traded for elite center Rodney Hudson from the Las Vegas Raiders. Adding Hudson and retaining Kelvin Beachum gives Kingsbury a fortified line to protect his star quarterback Kyler Murray. The only question mark remains at guard. While Justin Pugh will man one side, it could be Josh Jones or Justin Murray filling in opposite.
Jones remains the long-term project for one of the tackle spots so it makes sense to look for a mid-round guard to add competition. Notre Dame’s Robert Hainsey played right tackle last year for the Fighting Irish but his skill set suits a move inside. His physicality is offset by his lack of mobility, something that gets highlighted on the outside of the line. Once shifted to guard, Hainsey should use his technique and anchor to become a reliable backup with starter potential.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 247 - Jonathan Adams Jr, WR, Arkansas State,
The Cards will be hoping that by pairing AJ Green with DeAndre Hopkins they can squeeze the last drop out of the former Bengals wideout. After an underwhelming season that saw him drop to be Cincy’s number 3 target, both Arizona and Green will hope for a bounceback. Outside of those two there are two smaller, dynamic threats in Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella, not forgetting of course future hall of famer Larry Fitzgerald as he winds down his epic career in the desert.
It’s a crowded room but Green’s longevity may cause GM Steve Keim to take a late-round gamble on finding his successor. That could be in the shape of Arkansas State’s Jonathan Adams. At 6’3, 220lbs, Adams isn’t the shiftiest guy but he has decent long speed. Where he excels is at the catch point. Adams uses his frame and leap to ensure that contested balls tend to end up in his favour. Adams is tied first for most 20+ yard catches in single coverage since 2019 at the college level. He will be a depth piece initially, but a matchup nightmare on deep routes and in the endzone.
Draft In Full:
16. Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
49. Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
160. Robert Hainsey, iOL, Notre Dame
242. Patrick Johnson, Edge, Tulane
246. Jonathan Adams Jr, WR, Arkansas State
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com.