Losing a quarterback and head coach to retirement the same year would be a tough hand for any team to be dealt. The Arizona Cardinals are looking to reestablish an identity for themselves in what has been a brutally competitive offseason to contend in a division that seems to get tougher by the day.
With their preeminent wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald battling father time and Tyrann Mathieu taking his talents to Houston, the Cardinals have some pretty big holes to fill on both sides of the ball. They’re looking to do as much of that resupplying as they can during this year’s draft.
1st Round, 15th Overall- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Some Cardinals mock drafts have them trading back and still managing to land Jackson later in the first round. With so many teams looking to make waves at the quarterback spot, it’s probably best for Arizona not to take any chances with their signal caller of the future.
Most experts agree that the Cardinals coaching staff is high on Jackson and most also concur that he is being targeted with the first round pick. With veteran quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon in tow, Jackson has the chance to learn and develop at the pro level. If Jackson gets pressed into action early his mobility makes him a superior fit in Arizona, with David Johnson potentially back at 100 percent and a reinforced offensive line.
2nd Round, 47th Overall- Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M
After quarterback, safety is one of the Cardinals’ biggest areas of need with the departure of Mathieu. Watts has the right kind of long-term approach to suit a team that is currently restructuring, like the Cardinals. By most accounts, Watts could have landed a higher draft position in last year’s draft, but instead stayed at Texas A&M for his senior season. Arizona would be an ideal landing spot for Watts since he’d get to adjust to the pro game behind arguably the most dominant corner in football, Patrick Peterson.
3rd Round, 79th Overall- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
If you’re going to invest in a first-round quarterback, you’d better secure the offensive line to protect them. This is a pretty decent draft class for offensive linemen, which is why that someone like Brown could still be available this late. He’s a great investment for the Cardinals’ long-term prospects as he possesses something that can’t be coached and that’s size.
3rd Round, 97th Overall- Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama
Speaking of size, let’s talk about the big back from Alabama. Scarbrough has the size to be a dominant presence in short yardage situations as well as being a reliable change-of-pace back to pair with Johnson. Scarbrough has huge potential as a short-yardage specialist in the NFL, similar to LeGarrette Blount. Arizona could certainly use running back depth in its attempt to keep Johnson on the field for all 16 games.
4th Round, 134th Overall- Simmie Cobbs Jr., WR, Indiana
John Brown never lived up to the potential Arizona thought he might and departed to Baltimore. With a need to fill in around an aging Fitzgerald, the Cardinals could be looking for their wide receiver of the future in this draft. With other positions more urgently needed, the Cardinals are going to be looking for value picks in later rounds.
At 6-foot-4, Cobbs has the physical tools to be an impact player in the NFL. Perhaps playing opposite a living legend like Fitzgerald will provide the “Secret Sauce” for Cobb to translate his college career into NFL success.
5th Round, 152nd Overall- Holton Hill, CB, Texas
Another big talent that’s suffering a value drop from the depth of this year’s defensive back class. The Cardinals are fortunate not to need a top corner right away and can afford to stash a talent like Hill if he falls this far. The Cardinals would like to copy and paste Peterson’s success as many times as they can, and Hill could be a great protégée if their styles mesh.
6th Round, 182nd Overall- Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, EDGE, Arkansas State
There’s never too much pass rush and the Cardinals are going to need to improve along that line as well. Rolland-Jones’ versatility and high-motor make him a nice prospect at this stage and he can compete for several different positions in training camp.
7th Round, 254th Overall- Geron Christian, OT, Louisville
It has become generally accepted that NFL teams want to make incoming, early pick quarterbacks as comfortable as possible. One way that they do that is to try and acquire other players from the same team, favorite red-zone targets and so forth. With the opportunity to keep your first-round quarterback with one of his offensive linemen, the Cardinals do it. At minimum Christian will add competition to the offensive line during training camp.