In a horrid division topped by the Super Bowl champions finishing 10 and 6 is a great achievement but to jump into the play off spots is another matter entirely. Below we take a look at how the Cards can best put that vital number 20 pick to use:
The offensive line is Arizona’s greatest need. Lyle Sendlein is a solid fixture at center and as the top guards in the draft are set to come of the board in the late first, a left tackle would seem the logical pick at 20.
But will one reach them?
Robinson and Matthews seem primed to go in the top 10 and the Giants, Steelers, Ravens and Dolphins are all getting the first bite at Lewan, Martin and even Kouandijo, meaning most likely the Cards would have to waste picks trading up as any tackle after that point could be a huge reach.
So free agency would probably be a better time to reinforce the blind-side with a fairly solid crop destined to hit the market.
Corner or wide receiver are a possibility but the depth of the classes make me think you can pick up a solid replacement for Jerraun Powers or a project for development in the latter rounds.
Which leads me to my 3 best options
1) The front 7 is a nasty unit but John Abraham is getting on in years. Sharing snaps with a younger prodigy may help increase his longevity and ensure a ready made replacement when he decides to retire. Khalil Mack would be ideal but sadly will be long gone by 20 and I don’t have faith in Kyle Van Noy and Ryan Shazier to make plays with a hand down at the line of scrimmage.
Dee Ford of Auburn would be the ideal replacement.
Smaller and more compact than Abraham, he has the burst and strength of the veteran sack specialist. With limited snaps standing up he would take time to become a full replacement but with Abraham’s incredible last year, Ford would have the chance to learn from one of the best.
2) With Ryan Housler looking the part but not putting up the numbers a replacement is needed. With Ebron likely off the board.
Jace Amaro of Texas Tech is the next best choice.
Quick with good hands he is already a pretty polished receiver with excellent body control who could be an immediate factor in the offense.
Arians likes all rounders at tight end and Amaro’s main flaw is his lack of development as a blocker however that was never his function in college. An NFL conditioning scheme to add to his already impressive upper body strength and he will only get bigger and more imposing. Give him the time and I think he has the physicality to be a blocker as well as a dangerous offensive weapon.
3) Derek Carr of Fresno State
Though his stock seems to be rising, only a few weeks ago Carr was expected to be taken in the second. Word is cheap before the draft and at this point I still consider him likely to fall outside the top 10 and if (as I expect) he passes the Titans he is 90% sure to reach the Cardinals at 20.
Carson Palmer put up good yards but 24 td’s to 22 picks is solid but Palmer is as good as he is going to be. He is 34 and on a contract year and although I agree with Arians, he could play until he is 36 or 37. The play you saw last year is what you will get year in year out. I don’t think that’s good enough to take you over the edge and into the playoffs.
Carr has everything you can’t teach: the size, surprising athleticism and the natural arm strength. Whilst he can make all the throws, his pocket presence leaves something to be desired. This is teachable as Carr isn’t scared to get into contact, which is the failing of Blaine Gabbert. A year sat behind Palmer will give Arians a chance to round off the rough edges and unleash that big arm to full affect.
If Carr falls as expected, the Cards have a chance to secure their guy for the next 10 years. In my head that’s an opportunity too big to pass up.
Keep an eye out for a full 7 round (or in the Cards case 6) prediction in the coming weeks.