Why Mocks are Overrated:
There's a built-in bias toward drafting "to Fill a Need" (because a team's roster is made public for all to see and "you have to base your mock on something tangible). Many GM's say they draft the "best athlete available." If so, this logically would mean that Steve Keim and Steve Wilks carry around a carefully-protected list of top players in its pocket (i.e. "their draft board") and draft from that. Knowing who slots where on the board is for them to know and us (& the media) to guess.
This draft will be especially difficult to scope out because we have a new coaching regime with their own systems, schemes, player-prototypes and approaches. (We were just beginning to feel comfortable with BA and then, "Bam!" Along comes Wilks with a 4-3 defense and a new offensive coordinator. Which means that this draft can best be described as YGIAGAM (Your Guess is as Good as Mine).
Lots of luck.
Prediction - The Cards will either draft a WR, MLB, OL or QB with the #15 pick in the first round.
Sam Bradford - Prototypical starting QB when healthy - which remains one of several burning questions of this Cardinal draft." Other questions: How will he fit in with Mike McCoy's offensive system? One thing we do know - Bradford put up some ridiculous completion-percentages in his most recent outings. You might say that the Cardinals' destiny is in the hands of the medics.
Backing up Bradford is 6 year veteran Mike Glennon. Will the Cardinal brain trust feel confident giving him the keys to the car should Bradford get injured? And do they feel he can be our quarterback of the future? Our guess is that, on Day One of the draft, Keim, Wilks and Bidwill have a pretty good idea of the QB's they can fall in love with and leap on that puppy should he fall to them at #15, #47 or #79 (Or - with four Top 100 picks, they could jockey for position by doing a little horse-trading in the first 3 rounds.
Chances are that Darnold, Rosen, Allen and Mayfield will be gone by #15. Rudolph may or may not be there, and Jackson's run-oriented skill-set wouldn't appear to mesh with McCoy's offensive system. For the Cards to try to trade up for one of those elite QB's would seem to be excessively costly.
More likely, they might have their sights set on the next-echelon group of QB's (i.e. Rudolph, Lauletta White or Falk) and might try to move up a bit at the top of the 2nd round in order to get the guy they want.,.
Cards get All Pro David Johnson back, but the depth behind him (sans C Johnson, Ellington, Kerwynn Wiilliams) is quite thin - with role players like humper Elijaa Penny and waterbug return specialist TJ Logan.
Expect the Cards to draft another all-purpose RB in the mid-to-later rounds.
Once upon a time, wide receiver was the deepest position on our roster. What's left are Fitz (in the slot) and JJ Nelson (to stretch the field) Chad Johnson returns with a load of physical potential (but very little production). So it's basically those three wideouts plus "a bunch of guys named Murray."
We expect the Cards - perhaps as early as #15 - to aggressively pursue either a physical 6-2+ 220 lb wideout - (Sutton?) or someone to groom behind Fitz (Ridley?).
A thin, lackluster group consisting of Gresham and Seals-Jones - clearly a depth-problem and not an ideal situation given the thin and shallow talent-level of TE in this year's draft.
We'll probaby go after a "get your nose dirty" blocker (Fumagolli or Rizzo) on Day 3. And don't be surprised if we tried to add a veteran via trade or free agency after the draft.
Considerable amount of time and attention was paid toward stabilizing last year's injury-plagued offensive line. Veldheer is gonzo (traded for a #182). LT will be manned by DJ Humphrey. Iupati will return at starting LG. Shipley is expected to win out over Evan Boehm at center. RG Justin Pugh will line up between Shipley and RG Andre Smith
A solid unit across the board if they can remain healthy. In addition to the typical competition among existing players for the remaining backup jobs, expect the Cards to troll the FA and trade waters for additional backup depth.
There are a few mocks which have the Cards drafting a top LT (Williams, McGlinchey or O. Brown) at #15, but we think the Cards are, by and large, satisfied with their OL situation and will only use a high draft pick on a LT if he happens to be the BPA on their board.
Defensive Interior Line
Wilks plans to convert the Card defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3, but advises that we shouldn't expect that much difference because of the amount of nickel packages the Cards would employ within either system. Gunter, Nkemdiche, Peters and Olson will return. Frostee Rucker, Xavier Williams, Rodney Gunter, Ed Stinson and Josh Mauro won't be back. Edge guys (DE's) will consist of outside LB's like Chandler Jones, Markus Golden and possibly Hasson Reddick.
We'd expect the Cards to be on the lookout on Days oneand two for a big run stopping NT to pair with Nkemdiche. Two possible candidates: Vita Vea and Tim Settle
As we understand it, the major difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3 is that the inside LB's are smaller and more agile paired in a 3-4, whereas the middle LB in the 4-3 is more a physical MIKE dude. Right now, that role is expected to be filled by 235 lb Josh Bynes - very productive last season, but a bit light in sand.
Golden (SAM) and C Jones (WILL) are expected to man the outside while either would also become the Cards' 4th linemen in pass rushing roles. The Cards have added a lot of additional backup LB types - maybe a couple of them will emerge in more important roles, but we won't know this until later in the off-season.
Cards need a traditional MIKE backer - Long shot draft pick at #15 (or if he falls to #47) is Va. Tech backer, Tremaine Edmunds. He's 6-5 250 and would seem ideal for the job.
Despite the loss of Tyrann Mathieu and T Williams, Cards are 3/4 of the way OK in the starting secondary with Patrick Peterson at one corner and Antoine Bethea and Budda Baker at the two safeties. Plus we still have D Buccanon in specialized hybrid role and major holes at #2 corner and both safeties. It looks as though the Cards are replicated last season's approach to manning the secondary by signing a lot of promising wannabees and hoping that a couple will emerge as diamonds in the rough.
One component still missing is #2 corner, and the Cards are not expected to stand pat with a number of rookies - a few veteran cornerbacks have been brought in for look-sees and we expect the Cards to add at least one more vet.
Would we be shocked if the Cards drafted Josh Jackson or Denzel Ward with their #15? (Well...it depends on how their BPA board stacks up). But it definitely would not stun us if we took a flyer at Jackson, Ward, Oliver or Alexander between our first pick (#15) and second (#47).
Shaky ST play cost us at least 3 games and a shot at the playoffs last season. From the standpoint of screw-ups all areas of Special Teams play were equal opportunity offenders - Missed FG's, a blocked XP try, a couple of bad snaps, poor coverage - all contributed to a failed season - a strong case could be made that, if we straightened out special teams play, we wouldn't have to change anything else on our roster to reach the playoffs.
Phil Dawson, Andy Lee and Aaron Brewer will return. Not 100% lock-stock reliable, but very good more often than not.
So that's the deal. Unless a blockbuster deal or two comes down the old pike between now and Draft Day, this is pretty much "it." Stay tuned.