Here at BritishBirdgang we’re big fans of Mock Drafts. Arizona Cardinal mock drafts in particular. So, as the NFL Draft gets closer, here’s another one from Kyle Morley…so any hate can be directed to him.
Hi British Birdgang!
Most of you will know me already, so I will save on the introductions.
For those who don’t know me, I’m an overly opinionated Arizona Cardinals fan who watches far too much college football, watches far too many breakdown videos on YouTube and listens to far too many draft based podcasts while walking the dog (Budda also says hello).
I have never written anything like this before, so please excuse the numerous grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. I have honestly proofread this a couple of times and tried to pick up on as much as possible.
I decided to write this as I love the draft and discussing it with people, so hopefully, this will stir up a bit of discussion between us all.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it and look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions.
Disclaimer – This mock draft is what I think the Cardinals could do, not what I would personally do, though I have tried to include some of my favourite players to fill positions of need. I based my round grades from the NFL.com draft profiles and a few big boards. The draft is never a perfect science, I have kept away from making trades as it all gets too messy but no doubt there will be plenty on the night. Also no doubt some of these guys will be gone when the Cardinals are on the board, but I tried to be as realistic as possible.
Round 1 (Pick 15) – Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State
Another linebacker in the first round? Yup! Abit of a surprise pick but hear me out.
We are switching to a new 4-3 base D, and after looking at the linebacker room, where is our MIKE linebacker? Steve Wilks has stated he thinks Josh Bynes could be that guy but who do the Cardinals have in place for the long-term?
No disrespect to Bynes, he played great for the Cardinals last year when he got the opportunity, but he has bounced around the league and never held down a starting position anywhere. Also, Bynes has a potential out in his contract after next season, which leads me to believe to Cardinals could be looking at the position early in this draft, and that is why this pick makes so much sense (to me at least).
Vander Esch is a tall rangy ILB who tested out very well at the combine.
At 6’3 256 lbs, he has the size to stuff the run, he has the speed to cover sideline to sideline and he has also shown ability when asked to drop back into coverage.
His downside is he is still pretty raw as he is a one-year starter in college, there have been rumours about a neck injury and he has a few bad habits that need cleaning up.
But look at our new defensive coordinator and the job he did with turning Luke Kuechly into a pro bowl/all pro linebacker. Could Vander Esch and Reddick be the new Kuechly/Davis? I don’t know, but if they even get close to that level, it is a pretty exciting prospect.
He also wears a cowboy collar and made one of the best football ever GIF’s created. Winner.
Round 2 (Pick 47) – Isiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
Cornerback Two. CB2.
Every single off-season we seem to talk about who will be the guy opposite Patrick Peterson.
Last year it was Justin Bethel and that got scrapped fairly quickly.
Tramon Williams was a steal in free agency but he decided to take the offer from Green Bay and ‘go back home’ this off-season.
The Brandon Williams experiment hasn’t panned out thus far, but if anyone is going to salvage his career as a defensive back, it will be Steve Wilks and his staff, but I’m not holding my breath.
Could Oliver be that long-term solution we have been searching for?
Oliver has the rare combination of size speed and length which NFL teams crave.
I think he fits into what Wilks wants to do on defence as a big, imposing, aggressive corner.
He has excellent pedigree coming from a school that has churned out NFL calibre defensive backs over the past couple of years and lineage as both his father and uncle played college football at a high level.
I think he needs time to work on his technique and I think his lack of ball skills shown in college as he didn’t have many interceptions but I think he has great upside.
Plus he is a local boy, which is always nice.
Round 3 (Pick 79) – Frank Ragnow, C/G, Arkansas
I don’t know about you, but did anyone else get slightly frustrated with the inside of the offensive line last season?
Sometimes (ahem) it was all a bit easy, we saw Carson Palmer get his arm broken and Drew Stanton gets his knee taken out. I know we have been active in free agency but I still worry for Sam Bradford if the hits start to pile up, especially when he has a less then clean history when it comes to injuries.
We drafted Evan Boehm in 2016 as the potential ‘centre of the future’ but that hasn’t panned out and he actually spent the last off-season playing at guard while Cole Toner worked out at centre.
The current starter is AQ Shipley who has been a relatively good pickup but he is coming to the end of his career and he has his limitations as a player.
At pick 79 I think Ragnow is an outstanding value pick here.
Let’s get the negative out of the way first, he sat out most of last season due to injury.
The positives are he is arguably the best centre in the class but he also has experience playing at guard.
He is a mean dude and plays with an edge, he is well rounded in both pass and run protections and by all accounts, he is an outstanding leader.
One of my favourite players in the draft.
Round 3 (Pick 97) – Mark Walton, RB, Miami
Can David Johnson do everything all by himself?
Well yeah, he probably could, but if we want to see him for a few more years to come it may not be a wise idea.
Running back was a position of strength at the start of last season, however, it quickly turned south once DJ got injured and it got to the point where we were totally ineffective running the ball for large periods.
This is possibly the reason why the room has seen plenty of comings and goings over the past 12 months.
We traded for Adrian Peterson mid-season and then he was cut promptly after the season end.
Andre Ellington was cut during the tail end of the season and joined the Texans.
Kerwynn Williams wasn’t retained and has recently signed for Kansas City and we have heard nothing about the future of DJ Foster.
What we do know is David Johnson is fit and healthy again, Elijhaa Penny was retained (possibly with a move to the fullback on the cards) and TJ Logan should be ready, though it is anticipated his role will be limited to certain packages and special teams.
The Eagles and the Patriots have shown that running back by committee can be successful and, while we want the ball in DJ’s hands as much as possible, there is room for another running back to take on some of the load.
I would have loved someone like Rashaad Penny but I think he will be long gone at this stage so I took the best running back available with the highest upside in Mark Walton.
Walton missed a lot of the ’17 season with an ankle injury but in ’16 he was an explosive player for the Hurricanes, notching up 1,117 yards, averaging 5.3 yards a carry and 14 touchdowns.
Walton has the ability to make plays whether he is handed the ball or if he catches out of the backfield, meaning we won’t have to change scheme when Walton comes in for a play or two.
I don’t usually do comparisons but he reminds me of a blend between Kerwynn Williams due to his stature and his ability to make plays between the tackles and Andre Ellington’s ability to catch the ball out the backfield.
Either way, I think he would add something to the room and if rumours are to be believed, the Cardinals are looking to add another guy in the mid-rounds.
Round 4 (Pick 134) – Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
If Callaway didn’t have so many off-field red flags, he would be in the conversation for WR1 in this class in my opinion. (He didn’t play at all last year as he was suspended due to an allegation of credit card fraud and marijuana possession).
However when you turn on his ’16 tape and you see this explosive player who is smooth with the ball in his hands and is a polished route runner you have to admire his talent. Listening to him in the pre-draft process he owned up to his mistakes and spoke about how serious he is about football to enable him to provide for his newly born daughter.
Has he turned the corner?
God knows but the Cardinals have shown in the past to take guys with a sketchy past but who are seeking redemption and at this point of the draft, the risk isn’t massive. Damn, we took Dorian Johnson here last year and he didn’t make it out of training camp.
Callaway has massive upside, he has been compared to Antonio Brown in the way he plays.
I don’t see him reaching those dizzy heights but think he could turn out to be the steal of this draft if he has his life in order outside of football.
Round 5 (Pick 182) – Ryan Izzo, TE, Florida St.
In a year where the tight end class is pretty poor, we are in dire need of a tight end.
Jermaine Gresham has his moments but draws way too many penalties.
I am a Steve Keim fan but even I question the logic behind the Gresham contract last year. He also tore his Achilles late in the season so is doubtful to participate in any of the off-season preparations.
Ricky Seals-Jones came in late last year and despite only getting touches, he showed he has the potential to be a nice weapon in the passing game. His blocking however still leaves a lot to be desired.
I honestly don’t see a prospect early on who offers enough ‘value’ over some of the prospects already picked.
However, I think Izzo offers some solid value in the 5th round. Physically and athletically he is what you want in a tight end, he was primarily used as a blocker for Florida but shown flashes of pass-catching ability.
I think Seals-Jones, Izzo, a solid veteran with Gresham to come back midway through the season will just about be enough for the time being.
Hopefully, both Seals-Jones and Izzo can develop into a nice tight end pairing for the future.
Round 6 (Pick 182) – Michael Dickson, P, Texas
British born Josh Mauro was the apple of the British Birdgangs eye as he was ‘one of our own’, though it was a tag NFLUK wasn’t keen on. Anyway, he was cut this off-season, so what we need is another Brit to make the Cardinals roster!
Sadly I couldn’t slot one in so an Aussie will have to do (which is pretty much the same thing to some Americans I have met over the past few years). ‘
Using a draft pick on a punter is madness, madness!’ I hear you cry.
But we aren’t talking about any old punter, people are rating him as one of the best punting prospects ever, yes, they believe he is that good.
For a long long time, the punting unit was our Achilles heel.
We found some temporary salvation last season in Andy Lee who actually did a pretty nice job, but with 1 year left on his deal and at 35, maybe we should take a ‘punt’ on a guy for the long term.
Wilks has put an emphasis on how important special teams are going forward and I think we will also see some kickers brought in to try out (Daniel Carlson from Auburn is a guy who I think will end up on an NFL roster somewhere), I just think we need to get younger and better, plus we have $5million tied up between Dawson and Lee.
We have all seen the way Johhny Hekker flips the field, I would love to see the Cardinals with a similar sort of weapon.
Round 7 (Pick 254) – Kyle Allen, QB, Houston
Here we are the gang, ‘Quarterback of the Future’!
No I haven’t misspelt Josh Allen and no don’t pin your hopes on him being the next Tom Brady but there is a talented player in there who could be developed.
Kyle Allen was one of the most highly recruited players coming out of high school (where I am sure I read he was ranked the 7th best player nationally, but don’t quote me on that).
He was originally recruited by Texas A&M where after an initial bright start he struggled, he then transferred to Houston and where he was only ever a backup.
Apparently, in both cases, he didn’t fit the scheme and/or didn’t see eye to eye with the offensive coordinator.
Anyway, when he decided to skip his final year and declare for the 2018 NFL draft the main question was why?
However, since declaring he has spent time with quarterback guru Jordan Palmer (Carson’s brother for those who don’t know) and has been training daily alongside Sam Darnold and Josh Allen leading up to the draft.
By all accounts, he has a talented arm, a high football IQ and has played in pro concepts since high school. A lot of teams have worked him out during the pre-draft process, there is definitely some buzz around him.
Usually, if a quarterback is still here at this stage of the draft it is due to off-field red flags or their play has serious limitations. Allen is here due to a chaotic college career and not finding a scheme or an offensive coordinator who can unlock his potential.
Where he will be drafted is pie in the sky stuff, there is has been recent buzz he could go in the 5th round, a lot of people believe he will go undrafted.
If he does go undrafted I think there will be plenty of interest in him, so I am taking the local boy here and making him ‘nearly Mr Irrelevant’ to save the aggro.