Why Mocks are Overrated:
(1) Mocks carry a built-in bias toward "filling needs" (because needs are the most visible info available to most fans and media). (2) Most mocks come out way too early (before most teams have come close to stacking their boards). (3) Smokescreening is in the DNA of most coaches and team executives. (4) Many GM's (who say they draft the "best athlete available" are just dishing out "coach-speak."
As it was a year ago, 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. (This is especially true when the new regime comes in with its version of the Air Raid offense).
Draft Prediction - The Cards own the #1 pick in the draft. Two most logical drafting strategies are: (1) Draft the best non-QB - Bosa, Q Williams or D White (with a variant of this strategy trading down from #1 to accumulate more picks) or (2) Draft Kyler Murray - a game-breaking QB who can best run Kingsbury's (Air Raid-based) offense and then trade Josh Rosen for more picks. The way I see it - If Murray bombs, the Cards wind up without a starting QB and a meh list of draft picks. If they, say, draft Bosa and Rosen bombs, they will at least still end up with no QB but with the draft's top defender. If it were me, I'd pass on Murray and ride the back of Rosen, but the giant vibe coming out of the Valley is that the Cardinals will pick Kyler Murray at #1.
Josh Rosen - Two schools of thought: (1) In his rookie year, he failed to prove he could carry the franchise on his back. (2) Rosen hung in there despite playing behind a shredded OL and a 2-man receiver group (Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk (before the injury) and showed occasional flashes of brilliance
Backing up Rosen or Murray figures to be 5 year veteran Brett Hundley (from UCLA) and Princeton 1-year vet Charles Kanoff. Dunno much about Hundley, other than that he apparently can run Kingsbury's version of the Air Raid) and help teach it in camp.
Prediction: Two options figure to be: (1) Draft Murray and trade Rosen or (2) Don't draft Murray and keep Rosen. (Unlikely but possible - Draft Murray and also keep Rosen).
The hope is that David Johnson will return to his rookie form. Look for KIngsbury to explore new creative ways to exploit the talents of Johnson, Chase Edmonds, local product DJ Foster and waterbug return specialist TJ Logan.
Prediction: If the Cards seek more RB depth they'll draft opportunistically (i.e. If the right guy drops to them at the right spot, look for the Cards to draft another all-purpose RB in the mid-to-late rounds).
Once upon a time, wide receiver was the deepest position on our roster. What's left are Fitz and Christian Kirk. In the off-season, the Cards added Kevin White and a few other FA's. Still on the current roster: Trent Sherfield and Jalen Tolliver. Whatever the final list looks like, the Cards will want to add (1) a big, physical jump-ball wideout (preferably with speed) and (2) a speedster who (in KK's words) "can take the top off the defense.
We expect the Cards - perhaps as early as #31 - to either draft a big guy or a blazer (or a big guy who's also a blazer).
Prediction: Keep an eye on: Metcalf (if we were to trade down) or someone like AJ Brown, M Brown, Harry, Harmon, Whiteside or Isabella
It's been a weak position for quite awhile. Gresham is gone. Clay is in the house. Seals-Jones (he of the Teflon hands) returns.
Prediction: If Hockenson were to drop to #31 or Irv Smith was available on Day 2, mmm maybe.... Intriguing prospect to keep an eye on: Ace Sternberg maybe with #103 onDay 3.
Arguably #32 of 32 teams this past season. Keim looked to free agency to rebuild this unit, but various moves notwithstanding, the Cardinal O-line continues to be a work in progress. As of now, the starting unit appears to be: Humphries Sweezy, Cole, Pugh and Gilbert, but that could change.
Prediction: I see the Cards drafting a couple of offensive lineman - possibly as early as the second round; but more likely the high-mid to middle rounds. Linemen who have caught my eye: Dillard, McGarry, LIndstrom, Benzschawel, Bradbury. Draft looks deep in centers - Look for SK to cherry-pick one in the later rounds if he doesn't grab one earlier.
Defensive Interior Line
After a disasterous 2018 season running a 4-3 under Wilks, the Cards return to a 3-4. The inside will need some work - Robert Nkemdiche and Corey Peters return as probable starters and Philon was picked up as a FA, but where's the depth? Malveaux looks promising, but Cards could use 2 - 3 more linemen.
Prediction: After the initial Bosa excitement and before the K Murray rumors, we we felt that Q Williams and Oliver could add ballast to our Front 3. Chances are, they'll be gone in Round One, but this may be one of those situations where the names of one or two linemen (Lawrence? Simmons?) are still blinking in the mid-rounds of Steve Keim's board
On the outside, Chandler Jones and former Raven backer and ASU alum Terrell Suggs are expected expected to man the EDGE spots with FA Brooks Reed also in contention
On the inside, 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 than in the 4-3 (where a more physical MIKE dude is preferred). Newcomer FA Jordan Hicks is expected to play inside next to Haasen Reddidk.
We don't know a lot about Hicks, but see both EDGE and ILB positons as needing more depth.
Prediction: Cards are OK at all four LB spots but could use more quality depth behind C Jones, Suggs, Hicks and Reddick. Drafting Bosa at #1 would certainly address the depth situation on the outside, but the odds of that happening are probably less than 25%. The EDGE position is arguably the most prized position in this draft (i.e. after Bosa, J Allen, Ferrell and Gary, the talent pool thins out). (Note _ Sweat's heart issues don't help the depth issue either). At ILB, White, Wilson, Bush and Long look to be keepers, but the talent falls off after #4). Look for Keim to hope the right LB(s) drop down to the Cards at #65 or later.
For several years, the Cardinal depth chart has listed the secondary as "Solid Safety, Solid Safety, Patrick Peterson, Mediocre Other Corner." With a month to go before the draft, the Cards now have a secondary that looks like: Swearinger, B Baker, Peterson and FA pickups Robert Alford or Tremaine Brock to man the other corner position and provide depth. Swearinger replaces Antoine Bethea (a strong tackling presence) at safety.
Prediction: Cards need to settle on who'll provide depth in their secondary. Fortunately, the pool of talent at backup corner and safety in the League tends to be deepest of the various DB positions. Look for Keim & Co. to stockpile the Cardinal backup secondary with unknown raw, athletic defenders with high upsides
Some stability here. Shaky ST play typically costs us at least 3 games each season.
Zane Gonzalez, Andy Lee and Aaron Brewer figure to return. Gonzalez is not 100% lock-stock reliable, but very good more often than not.
So that's the deal. Bottom line - Either Murray or Bosa/Q Williams/D White in Round One and the top player on Keim's board at #33, #65 & 103 and then opportunistic picks (i.e. the right guys dropping down at the right times) after that. Stay tuned.