Since each NFL team has different need, differing drafting philosophies and view the draft pick universe through 32 separate lenses, scoping out what the Cardinals might do is tantamount to "trying to hit a moving dartboard blindfolded."
Then again, mock drafts are fun, and I'm not about to cop out of this time-honored annual ritual. But I'm going to do it a bit differently. First - I've designated Pro Football Draft Guide's (PFDG's) 300 player deep draft board as my arbitrary "gold standard for ranking prospects (mainly because I'm lazy and too busy to lay out my own 300-deep board this early in the process). Second - I've identified a small number of prospects available at each Cardinal pick, discuss our needs, options etc. and then make a wild-assed guess: Fasten your seat belts:
24. Available: Melvin Gordon, RB Wisc., Arik Armstead DE Ore., Landon Collins S Ala., Cameron Erving OT/C Fla.
I believe Steve Keim and Bruce Arians when they say they'll draft the "best player available" (BPA) in the first round - but with a bit of wriggle room: (1) Keim has said he builds team need and system fit into each player's ratings before he ranks him on his "short" (120-man?) Board. Add to the coaching staff's track record at identifying and developing talent and putting that talent in the best position to succeed and you can readily understand why'd they'd have so much faith in a BPA approach to drafting. (2) If, say, a half-dozen prospects were bunched together on Steve's board, this wouldn't preclude his drafting the dude ranked #6 out of that group (because he fits a need better than the other five). Finally, don't hold me to it, but I'm guessing that Keim and Arians visualize some sort of "ideal roster" where certain positions are best filled by players with physical profiles and skill sets. (Examples: A tall LDE like Calais Campbell. A smaller, more mobile ILB like D Washington. Or a speedy, sharp-cutting route-runner who'd be an ideal #3 WR opposite Fitz and Floyd. That said, the Cards would be happiest if they could add a big durable RB (to pair) with Ellington, an edge rusher, at least one mobile, hostile ILB, and "you never can have too many good CB's. (Ditto that re the OL). They also could use another quality TE (but pickins' are slim and they used a 2nd round pick on Niklas last year).
Gordon and Gurley are the two top-ranked RB's and would fill a need. My guess is that, if concerns about Gurley's medical status were addressed, we'd leap on that puppy in a Miami minute. But instead, I think we'd opt for a Calais Campbell clone who can rush the passer. Gollin's Wild-assed Guess (2 days out): Arik Armstead DE Oregon
55. Available: Phillip Dorsett, Miami (FL), Quinten Rollins CB Miami (OH), Denzel Perryman ILB Miami (FL), Owamagbe Odighizuwa DE UCLA, Jake Fisher OT Oregon, Eric Kendricks, ILB UCLA
Lord knows, the Cards don't need Dorsett but how do you ignore 4.3-range speed? Fisher is said by PFDG to be a high-character guy and a probable 10-year fixture at RT (a position where the coaches might be tired of waiting for Massey to come into his own). Perryman is mobile and hostile but a bit raw and under 6-feet tall. Rollins is athletically talented and has great ball skills but is a bit raw. Kendricks has first round talent but second round length. Tough call - (if we could only sneak a peek at Keim's board). Gollin's Wild-assed Guess (2 days out): Eric Kendricks ILB Miami (Ohio)
86. Available: Donovan Smith OT Penn St., Kurtis Drummond, S Mich State, Zack Hodges OLB Harvard, Bryce Petty QB, Baylor
We're now definitely at that stage of the draft where you stand at the foot of the cliff and hope to catch the best prospect who falls over it. (A Kwon Alexander, Brett Hundley, Lorenzo Mauldin -I have no clue). It's impossible to read BA's or SK's mind, but - especially if they're not sold on the Logan Thomas experiment - they might be inclined to grab a QB here. Hundley (should he drop down) or Petty aren't rated all that far below Winston and Mariota. But in the end, I think Keim follows his earlier pattern of cherrypicking little known dudes from small football schools and rolls the dice on an Ivy League OLB. Gollin's Wild-assed Guess 2 days out): Zack Hodges, OLB Harvard.
123. Available: Taiwan Jones Mich. St., Adrian Amos s Penn State, Gerod Holloman S Louisville, Jamon Brown OT Louisville, Laken Tomlinson G Duke
We're at the point in this draft where scouts earn their living - where every prospect isn't without a blemish or two and you have to figure out which flaws are correctable and which ones are "fatal." This draft presents a unique challenge involving "trust of your board." The pool of available players seems to skew "defense" - so do you keep drafting the best player available even though it might mean drafting 6 - 8 defensive players? Or do you gulp and reach for a few offensive players to balance out your draft? (I'd personally with the BPA approach). One guy who leaps out at me is downhill banger Taiwan Jones, but he's projected to only be a 2-down run-stopper. I'm also intrigued the safety from Penn State (Amos). Linemen Laken Tomlinson and Jamon Brown have redeeming qualities but are considered to have limited physical skills and may be confined to reserve roles. Hollomon is described as a game-breaking "centerfielder" but np physical enough to prevail in the proverbial box. Gollin's Wild-assed Guess (2 days out): Adrian Amos S Penn State
159. Available: JR Tavai OLB USC, Tyler Kroft TE Rutgers, Shaq Mason G Ga Tech, Reese Dismukes C Auburn, Derrick Lott DT Chattanooga, Delontrez Mount, OLB Louisville
Tavai is a former DE considered a physical tough guy with a non-stop motor but with limited range. Kroft is described as a "receiver in TE clothing (& we need blockers). Mason is raw in pass pro but said to have some upside. Mount is long and athletic but lacks quicks. Lott has the most upside but is a raw talent from a small school. Dismukes is considered an effort-guy who might struggle vs. massive NT's. Assuming the guys higher up on our board don't drop down, I'll go for the guy with the most upside.
Gollin's Wild-assed Guess (2 days out): Derrick Lott DT Chattanooga
197. Available: Max Garcia C Florida, Brett Boyko OT UNLV, Anthony Chikillo DE Miami FL, Detrick Bonner S Virgiinia Tech, Quandre Diggs CB Texas.
Garcia is considered a versatile road-grader with pass pro an issue. Boyko is a Canadian product with some upside, but plays too upright and lacks "violent hands." Chickillo has a solid but not elite skill set and is projected as a reserve. Bonner is not especially instinctive, but has a versatile skill set (can play some CB) and potential to be coached-p. Diggsis instinctive and tough but undersized. Projects as a slot-corner but might struggle in coverage. I think we go with the center...Gollin's Wild-assed Guess (2 days out: Max Garcia C Florida
241. Available: Shane Carden QB ECU, Adam Shead G Oklhoma, Arie Kouandijo G Alabama, Cam Thomas CB Kentucky
We're at thast point in the draft where you can afford to roll the dice a little and take a shot or two at high-potential athletes from little known programs, overlooked pluggers or backups from very good programs or "how come he's still on the board" type prospects. Carden is considered a gunslinger "who has some swagger to his game." but will frequently do funky things under pressure. Shead is another huge road-grader type who lacks agility. Kuandijo is considered heady and strong but his ceiling is as a fringe starter. Thomas is long and physical with good ball skills. but lacks athleticism. Hmm, do we go with the QB, the o-lineman or the CB?...Gollin's Wild-assed Guess (2 days out: Arie Kouandijo G Alabama
256. Available: Xzavier Dickson OLB Alabama, Jean Sifrin TE UMasss
(Mr. Irrelevent). Dickson has all the physical parts but they don't seem to add up to make the complete player - he's somewhat of a tweener who could wind up as a DE. Sifrin has good speed but may be too light to be considered anything more than a big receiver. Then again, the Cards lost Housler and, like Housler, Sifrin is mainly a receiving TE.Gollin's Wild-assed Guess (2 days out: Jean Sifrin TE UMasst