On the day of the 2021 NFL Draft, people still have no idea what the Arizona Cardinals will do with the 16th overall selection…and then the other selections they have over the 3 days. Here is one possible outcome that should satisfy fans and team alike.
Using the always-accurate Mock Draft Machine, a tool that makes every wannabe GM think they can do a better job than Steve Keim, I was able to put together numerous ‘mock drafts’ for the Cardinals in the run-up to Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
However, with this being the final day to do them, I’ve decided that I will post the last one up and explain why the selections were made and what the prospects might bring to the table.
Without further ado, the first pick is in…
1.16 – DeVonta Smith, Wide Receiver, Alabama.
The Arizona Cardinals WR room has many bodies in it, but not much in the way of solid options outside of DeAndre Hopkins. A.J. Green signed on a one-year deal but questions loom over what remains of the skills that used to make him one of the most feared receiving threats in the league. Then there are guys like Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson (no, not that one) who have shown glimpses of what they can do but have, to this point, flattered to deceive when it comes to being reliable options for Kyler Murray.
That’s where the small Heisman Trophy winner comes in, falling because teams ahead of the Cardinals are scared at his skinny frame and 6-foot-and-zero-point-two inch height. Will his body be able to cut it at the NFL level? It’s anyone’s guess. But the playmaking skills are there regardless and god knows the Arizona Cardinals offence could do with that kind of addition!
Smith could have declared last year and likely been a top first-round selection but, instead, he headed back to Alabama and set the world on fire – 117 receptions for 1,856 yards with a mind-blowing 23 receiving touchdowns. Not forgetting the multitude of awards that had his name on them; first-team AP All-Pro selection, SEC Offensive Player of the Year, Biletnikoff Award and the pièce de résistance, the Heisman Trophy. Just staggering.
The Arizona Cardinals, in picking up DeVonta, source what should be a ridiculous grouping of wideouts for the 2021 NFL Season. Now it’s just down to Kliff Kingsbury to call enough plays to get them all involved and who knows where Kyler Murray will take the team!
2.49 – Asante Samuel Jr., Cornerback, Florida State
Coming into the draft, the Arizona Cardinals appeared to have one glaring need and that was at the Cornerback position. With the loss of Patrick Peterson in free agency, many would have expected them to go for a CB with the 16th overall selection – however, that was not the case in this mock draft, they simply did not fall enough for them to get one of the top guys.
That isn’t a bad thing though because Day 2 of the NFL Draft brings with it more prospects at the position and so the Cardinals pounce on a player with a very familiar name – he is, of course, the offspring of long-time Philadelphia Eagles DB Asante Samuel Snr.
The Cardinals have had numerous pre-Draft Zoom “visits” with the DB so there is bound to be some interest should he remain on the board and available for them to select with the only Day 2 pick that they own. Granted the other did turn in to All-Pro Centre, Rodney Hudson, so it’s not all bad news.
Samuel would immediately challenge for a starting spot alongside Byron Murphy, the re-signed (and, hopefully, healthy) Robert Alford and big-name addition Malcolm Butler. Chances are, given the advancing years of the latter pair, that Samuel could soon be a starter on Vance Joseph’s defence. Which would be a welcome change.
5.160 – Keith Taylor Jr, Cornerback, Washington
Given the lack of options at the Cornerback position – coupled with the need to be able to draft them and not have to pay over the odds to scoop up the good ones when they hit the open market – the Cardinals may very well double-dip at the position with the few selections which they have.
Following in the path of Budda Baker and Byron Murphy, the Arizona Cardinals once again delve into the Huskies defensive backfield for the 6’2” cornerback. With the size that can’t be taught, his skills could be utilised on the outside and maybe we see him in the starting lineup, or at least contributing, sooner rather than later.
6.223 – Malcolm Koonce, EDGE, Buffalo
When it’s this late, why not take a project edge rusher with size but not necessarily the skills needed to perform at the highest level. Yet.
7.243 – Christian Uphoff, Safety, Illinois State
The Cardinals safety group consists of Budda Baker, the Thompson twins and then a bunch of old veterans. The young upstart could stick around and boot one of them to the kerb.
7.247 – Racey McMath, Wide Receiver, LSU
A speedy WR with return skills, McMath seems a perfect late-round flier who could make an impact on special teams. Heck, as long as he goes forward when he catches the ball on returns, he’ll be better than some returners the Cardinals have put out in recent times…