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Gollin's Draft Day Blog - by Jeff Gollin

Day #3 Night: (Unofficial) Cards Ink 11 (Make That 16) UDFA's
No earth-shattering names on the original list (in keeping with Steve and Bruce's "unsexy" draft) but 5 new names included lunchpail G Anthony Steen from Alabama and "box safety" Craig Loston from LSU. Both were considered "draftable" coming into the draft are worth keeping your eye on. Click here to see the list.
(Note - As to be expected with lower-profile prospects - info on these guys is a bit sketchy).

Day #3: Cards Get Their QB plus a DE and WR
Picking at #120, #160 and #196, the Cards approached Day 3 having a few roster needs (fortunately none earth-shattering). There were still a few interesting undrafted prospects near the top of my board; most notably, Mettenberger, McCarron and Logan Thomas at QB (regardless of what BA said about not drafting a QB in the mid-later roun), a big NT (McCullors) and a couple of long corners (Desir and McGill
).

Low and behold, I returned from a dim sum lunch (Hey! that's what you get for scheduling the draft for Mothers' Day Weekend), to discover that we used our 4th round (#120) pick on Logan Thomas (who was #13 on my short list of Day 3 prospects). Thomas is said to be a freakish athlete with a huge cannon, but also has a lot of bad habits that include poor mechanics, inconsistent footwork and scatter-gun accuracy. The pick makes sense because BA can afford to carry him on special teams to develop him as our #4 QB without interfering with Lindley's progress or making Palmer, Stanton or Lindley feel antsy. I'm excited about the kid (throwing away my usual skepticism about "high potential" players).

We drafted a traditional 3-3 defensive end in Ed Stinson with our #160 pick. He comes out of Alabama (no, without a banjo on his knee) and is said to be a reliable run-stopper who lacks elite agility and athletic ability, especially as a pass rusher. The Cards are thin in defensive line depth and the hope is that he can join or push guys like Frostee Ruckers as backup to Calais and Darnell. (Note - I've always been a pushover for young players who have at least one outstanding physical attribute. Stinson comes across as a solid citizen who has no single redeeming feature, and that worries me. Maybe his run-stopping skill will be his outstanding trademark. Time will tell).

(Unless they do something unexpected) the next pick marked the end of the Cardinal draft day. They used it to nail down a slot guy known for running crisp routes and catching everything in sight - Walter Powell from Murray State. In addition to seeking a burner "who can take the top off a defense", there has for some time been a need among the Cardinal receiving crew for a #3 guy who can be dependible as a slot guy complimenting Fitz and Floyd. Powell ran a disappointing 4.6-something on his pro day (which downgraded his stock) but redeemed himself by running in the high 4.4's on his pro days. (He now profiles as "fast enough").

Day #3 Preview:
Looking forward, the Cards still have a few roster-needs but nothing so earth-shattering as to make Steve Keim ignore his Board in order to plug a hole. That said - I do think the Cards would (despite what SK and BA say) add a QB (McCarron? Mettenberger? Logan Thomas)?. They probably wouldn't mind adding a big RB (Storm Johnson and Josey are still undrafted). They'd like to increase competition on the O-line (Yankey, the two Richardsons)? McCullors is still available at NT to back up D Williams and Ta'amu. And it is said that the CB crop is loaded at the back end. And then there's the UDFA "start your engines" feeding-frenzy at the end of the draft, with the Cards said to be active players. Stay tuned.

Day #2: Cards Add Tight End, Pass Rusher and Waterbug
Cardinal story line of Day 2 had to be "Cards pass on drafting a QB." To paraphrase what BA said in retrospect: "I told you that it didn't make sense to draft a QB in any round if we felt that player wasn't any better than the guys (Palmer, Stanton, Lindley) that we already got."

Other than that, it was another one of those aggravating days where - every time we were close to a Cardinal pick and I got excited about a handful of players who might be available for us to draft, it was like someone had a hidden camera in my TV room. I was thinking Richburg, Attaochu or Tuitt at #52; Bam! The Giants snatch Richburg at #43. The Steelers grab Tuitt at #46. Attaochu falls to the Chargers at #50. In the next round (#84) , I'm getting all excited because Nix III (tops on my board) is still available at #83, but Houston jumps ahead of us in a trade and Bam Again! they steal Nix from under our nose. (Note - maybe we had no interest in Nix, but, at least in Paranoia Land, I'll continue to believe that, if Nix III was still there, we would have snapped him up to add depth to our NT crew).

So at #51 in the second round, the Cards grabbed a TE (Troy Niklas, a 6-6 270 lb giant from Notre Dame who reminds some folks of Heath Miller). He's a relative late-comer who had been a LB most of his college career and therefore still flying a bit below the proverbial radar. From a needs perspective, the pick makes sense. Coach Arians has always relied on TE's in his offense with the caveat that they block first and catch second. Unfortunately, there haven't been many of those guys available either in free-agency or the draft. Niklas was one of that rare breed and Steve Keim leaped on that puppy. (For posterity's sake - I had Niklas rated #5 TE and #94 on my big board overall - not a great value, but that assumes my board is more accurate than Keim's board and I wouldn't roll dice on that).

While waiting for #84 to creep up on us, I made the mistake of mentioning Jean-Baptiste to no one in the room in particular and watched with amazement as New Orleans immediately snapped him up at #57. As we neared our next pick at #84, Nix III's name stuck out like a sore thumb on my board, but as previously noted, the Texans traded with Pittsburgh (i.e. the same team who stole Shazier from us at #15) and Nix was history. The Cards then opted to draft what appeared to be a Shaughnessy clone in Kareem Martin - a 6-6 270 defensive end with 11 sacks this past season who, according to BA, will be given shots at SAM OLB and, if he can successfullt bulk up, possibly a backup to Calais at LDE. (With Todd Bowles concocting who knows what in the way of defensive schemes, Kareem could wind up anywhere in any given game-situation).

Because of the first round trade that moved us from #20 to #27 (& Bucannon), the Cards drafted again 7 picks later. While we wondered whether it was the right time for the Cards to pull the trigger on a QB (McCarron or Mettenberger), Keim decided to make our offense a little bit deeper and more explosive in the scatback dept. He reached deep into his bag of sleeper picks and drafted a small, quick, fast dude with an ordinary name from a far-from-ordinary school - John Brown from Pittsburgh State. Brown was one of a small number of prospects that no one paid much attention to - especially buried deep within an incredibly deep crop of wide out prospects. He started to get attention by running a 4.34 forty at the combine and began to get mentioned in hushed whispers by the media scouting fraternity. (I must admit to never hearing about Brown until a week or so before the draft - so I had nothing written on him - but was sufficiently intrigued to put him on my 7-round mock draft "wish list" (albeit a round or two later).

So where does that leave the Cards going into Day 3 with three picks left (if we don't get involved in a trade)? We helped ourselves at Tight End, filled a gaping hole at Safety, added depth at SAM backer/LDE and added speed to our pass offense and return game and shored up depth behind Ginn. Where do we go from here? My guess- We'll draft the proverbial Best Player Available at #120, #160 and #196.

Day #2 Preview:

The Cards come out of the box looking for their QB, an Abraham backup, a Dockett backup, a speedy slot receiver, a big RB, some help on the offensive line and a TE who can block as well as catch.

Carr is still available, but (assuming the Cards like him) they'll have to sweat out 19 picks before they're on the clock at #52. The way the Day 2 draft board seems to lay out is that there are 2 or 3 high-level guys at a wide assortment of positions. Rather than targeting any single position, Steve Keim will logically wait to catch the most talented player at to fall over each time we pick and to grab that guy (it's how we got Ellington despite already drafting a RB in Taylor).

The way things seem to line up: A few QB's (Carr, McCarron, Mettenberger and Garoppolo) are possibilities. At RB, there's Hyde, J Hill and West. Two speedy wideouts (Lee, Lattimore and Herron) are still out there. There's a ton of offensive linemen; most notably: Su'a-Filo, Richberg, C Richardson, Yankey, Bitonio, B Thomas and Kouandijo (a 1st round talent with an injury issue). Tuitt fits the Dockett profile. Nix III and McCullers can provide depth at NT if we want to bolster that position. Things are kind of thin on the edge-rusher front, but Telvin Smith and Attaochu are available. John-Baptiste is an intriguing 6-3 corner. At what point (if any) do we conclude that Jernigan(& his failed drug test) is worth the risk at DT?

All told that's roughly 23 prospects. We only need 20 to get #52 and are, therefore, guaranteed that one will be available. We'll need anothr 32 to get to #84 and 7 more after that to get to #91. A few other intriguing guys we haven't yet mentioned are, (along with some of the other guys who might remain undrafted) include interesting candidates for selection in round three - QB Logan Thomas, OT Anthony Richardson, C Brian Stork.

My wish list: #52 - Attaochu OLB; #84 - Richberg C, #91 - Logan Thomas QB.

Day #1 Recap:

I haven't felt such excitement over the Cardinal's 1st round pick of Bucannon since the time we tied the Giants 20 - 20 in MNF. The gnawing in my stomach started to grow when Shazier, Z-Mart, Mosley and Pryor came off the board in quick succession at #15 - #18. Oh well, there were still a few good prospects left (including Clinton-Dix, Cooks, Ford and Dennard) available at #20, but Steve Keim saw fit to add a much-desired 3rd round pick by trading down. I believe that in doing so, he dropped down too many slots and risked risked trading out of his board's "quality plateau."

Which is (in my opinion) precisely what happened. Cooks was gone at #20 followed by C-Dix at #21, Ford at #23 and Dennard at #24. So there we were at #27 sifting through the remaining scraps of talent: Bridgewater and Carr were available (and at this point in the draft were beginning to look better and better). Truitt, Hageman and NIx III were other options that could help solidify our defensive line depth. Marquise Lee was considered an elite 1st round talent in a deep pool of wideouts who could fill our need for a speedy slot guy.

We opted for Bucannon - a 6-1 211 pound strong safety described as "old school", "downhill" and a deluxe hitter. Scouting reports knock him for being a bit stiff in the hips and lacking coverage skills, but he led his strong safety position-mates at the combine in the Bench Press (19), Vertical Jump (36.5), Broad Jump (125), 3-Cone (6.96) and Short Shuttle (4.26)

I like the Bucannon and actually picked him (as a wild-assed guess) in my 7-round mock - but in the second round/not the first. (I also had him rated #24 on my Big Board, but you figure that other teams will pick guys in the top 15 or 20 that you won't list in your top 15 -20, so that #24 is, in reality, more like a #33 or 34. My concern - Did Keim draft for need and ignore value in order to fill a key roster hole? My ultimate test of whether Steve's strategy will pay off: Was the drop-off in talent from Clinton-Dix to Bucannon small enough to to be worth adding the extra 3rd round pick from the trade. Steve has said that Bucannon has skills that Clinton-Dix lacks & i'm inclined to believe him. But we won't know that until we see how the entire draft turns out and after we see Bucannon in action.

Day 2? I'll lay out how this might unfold after I have time to restock my 196-man board.


The First Round

#27 - With Carr, Bridgewater, Tuitt, Easly, Nix III, Hageman, Hill, Hyde, Lee, Herron, Kuandijo, Su'a-Filo,Ataochu and Ward to choose from, the Cards opted to draft my #1 strong safety (Deone Bucannon) whom I had #24 on my 196-man board and projected as a high 2nd round pick (more about this in my next piece (see above). Did we draft out of our value-range for need? SK and BA will never admit it, but I think it's fair to consider this.

#20 - The hemmoraging continued. NO grabbed Cooks. GB took Clinton-Dix. Cleveland moved up to grab Johnny Football at #22. Then it was Dee Ford to KC at #23. Dennard to the Bengals at #24. Verrett to SD at #25 (Hey! I predicted this in a late mock). Marcus Smith to Philly just in front of us. And then it was the Cards' turn.

8:00 pm - Let the games begin! No surprises early - Clowney and G-Rob went one-two. #3 brought its first huge surprise - Bortles (who some had going to the Cardinals) was grabbed by the Jags. Next two picks (Mack and Matthews) were to be expected. Tampa provided a minor raising of the eye-brows when they passed on Manziel and lived up to earlier rumors by drafting Evans. Things got a bit jumbled after that - Vikes took Barr. Lions decided Ebron would be their "big target" opposite Megatron. Wiz passed on a QB and picked up Lewan. The Giants passed on Donald and, instead jumped all over Beckham. StL surprised many onlookers by grabbing Donald at #13. After Chi (who I had pegged to take Donald) grabbed Fuller, there was a run on players I projected as "possible Cardinal picks": Shazier, Z-Mart, Mosely, Pryor (When would the hemmoraging stop)? Miami lived up to an earlier wild-assed rumor and grabbed OT Ja'Wan James. It was here that the Cards traded with NO out of #20 and down to #27.

7:13 pm - Lots of Red Carpet player and fan interviews by both nets. This will be my last post until later during the actual draft. I sure hope the Cards don't settle for a QB (unless BA, SK and Tom M really love the guy (be it Bortles or Bridgewater).

4:50 pm - Latest (KFFL) rumors have TB saying they won't draft Manziel (Damn!) but a whole bunch of other teams are expresng interest in Johnny Football. Also - Oakland (#5) may prefer Evans to Watkins, the Jags (#3) preferring Mack and Denver (#31) targeting Ealy.

4:10 pm - ESPN's "1st team" is in the house.Polian feels the Browns can afford to trade down to #9 and still get a top OT, allowing the Bills to draft thei home-town hero (Mack).

3:15 pm - Programming on ESPN and NFLN isetting kind of repetitive. The two extra weeks is making the nets cook up irrelevent "red car" type content to fill the screen. (I've always wondered - when you study the facial expressions and body language of various young QB's, can you predict which guys will make it and which guys won't?

3:05 pm - It will be Clowney to Texans at #1 - Wysche. Jets said to want to trade up for Beckham. Also talking to Carr and other QB's. Manziel is still in play in Minny. Dennard, Mosley and Donald also mentioned as being on Minny's radar.

2:45 pm - Texans are expected to keep pick. (No mention of Clowney). It's hard to keep all the mocks, boards and positional rankings up-to-date an synch because a change in one causes a change in all.

2:30 pm - Casserly's mock has us taking Bortles.


1:08 pm Draft Day - What do we know?
Thurs. May 8, 2014 - Not a whole lot.

All 32 NFL teams have been really adept at lying and smoke-screening mostly to gin-up trade interest (This is a very deep draft and teams either want to trade down for more picks or (if they feel they're only one targeted player away from reaching the Super Bowl) trade up to get "the player of their dreams."

As a result, trying to get a handle on what any of the teams drafting in the top 10 (let alone the top 5) is nearly impossible, with each team having unique sets of needs or (if they're a BPA team) having a wide difference of opinion when it comes to rating each prospects.

I put together my final (or next-to-final) mock draft, and the only thing I can tell you is that it's a "throwback" draft which ignores many of the rumors that have been flying around during the past few days. I'll confess to trolling other mocks of local beat writers (who often work with last-minute intelligence provided by their team. I discovered that many of their mocks resemble my mocks of a week or two ago; so I've reverted back to that earlier thinking - specifically:

I bought into McShay's comment that Jax prefers Mack over Watkins.

I also ignored all the scuttlebutt about Cleveland drafting a QB at #4, and bought into the buzz that they may draft Evans.

It would be outside Oakland's character not to draft for speed and explosion. Watkins was there for the taking at #5.

The Manziel rumors coming out of Tampa Bay seemed credible, so that's who I picked.

I also bought into the recent rumor that Minnesota at #8 won't take a QB, folowed the pack and gave Detroit Dennard (instead of Gilbert).

And - just now - realized my most recent mock had Ebron picked twice (I'll be back in a flash)!

Oh yeah, where was I. Tennessee was said to have had high grades on Bortles (Way to go, Wiz!).

I ignored rumors that the Giants wanted Donald, and returned to the "Zach Martin is versatile" tap dance. That gave the Bears Donald (which is who I had them taking 3 weeks ago).

Pittsburgh is said to "love" Fuller, so I gave them Fuller. I originally had Dallas drafting the DT Timmy Jernigan, but he tested "positive" and I moved him out of the 1st round. But there was some buzz that Dallas didn't consider the transgression "fatal" so (with Manziel off the board) I gave them Jernigan again.

With Ebron no longer available, the Ravens were the perfect roosting spot for Mosley (especially with Ray Lewis no longer playing). Which brings us to the Cardinals:

The entire world wants the Cardinals to draft a QB (either Bortles, Bridgewater or Carr). Me? I'm a BPA guy and lean toward position players like Shazier, Barr or Pryor (or if they somehow fell to us) Donald or Martin. Despite what Mayock says, I favor Shazier over Barr because he's less green, and just as athletic. (I also think it's tres cool that, each day, he sends photos of the meals he's eaten for his nutritionist to check out).

Later on, I bought into the buzz that has KC and Cincy factoring in upcoming contract/cap burdens of their starting QB's by drafting Carr and Bridgewater.

I also went a little crazy at the end by having SF draft the RB from LSU (Hill) because Gore isn't getting any younger, and Seattle adding another "big" corner in 6-foot-three Jean-Baptiste.

So OK. I've restacked my 196-player board and position rankings. I've caught up with the overnight scuttlebutt. And I've started this Day One of the Draft blog. I'll revisit this page from now till midnight, take you through my thinking as the draft progresses from #1 to #32 and where we'll go from there.

Come back early and often.

 

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