2018 was a massive struggle for the Arizona Cardinals under the leadership (or lack thereof) of first year Head Coach Steve Wilks. So much so that the franchise finished with a league-worst 3-13 record, earning them the first selection in the 2019 NFL Draft and Wilks a one-way ticket to the Cleveland Browns’ defensive coordinator vacancy.
The Steve Wilks Era never really got going – so much so that it probably shouldn’t even be referred to as an ‘era’ – and, after relieving the man of his duties and fans of being subjected to yet another season of him trying to force his scheme onto players, it has been another off-season of change for the Arizona Cardinals franchise.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that the Arizona Cardinals own the 1st overall selection in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft – and, with that, weeks upon weeks of speculation as to which direction the franchise decides to go with the selection.
Use It And Draft A Star
Perhaps the most sensible option for the franchise would be for them to stay put at #1 and have first dibs on all of the available
As with every NFL Draft, there tends to be one player which is the near-consensus top selection that almost every team would want to have on their roster.
Unlike many years, the top dog in the 2019 NFL Draft isn’t a Quarterback (at least not at the time of writing; with the NFL Combine on the horizon, perhaps one would push themselves into contention but that would appear unlikely) but a pass-rusher. Ohio State’s Nick Bosa is that guy and is atop the vast majority of any ‘NFL Draft Big Board’ you may choose to look at.
With Chandler Jones already in the desert, pass-rush isn’t exactly the biggest need for the Arizona Cardinals however there is no such thing as having ‘too much pass rush’ in this era of the NFL. Having both Jones and Bosa off of the edges is a tantalising proposition.
However, Bosa ended his Ohio State career in premature fashion after suffering an injury – one which wasn’t season-ending but, instead of playing football once he had recovered, he immediately began preparing for the NFL Combine and NFL Draft. A red flag in some peoples’ eyes, a smart business decision in others – for what it’s worth, I’m on the side of Bosa and wouldn’t be surprised to see more players curtail their final year on campus in order to stay injury-free before heading to the NFL.
Another player that the Arizona Cardinals could target with the top selection of the NFL Draft is yet another pass rusher in Kentucky’s Josh Allen – some say he is worthy of being taken #1 overall, others seem to think he’ll go to someone like San Francisco or NYJ at 2 or 3 respectively should the Cardinals opt for Bosa.
Unlike Bosa, Allen hasn’t had any season-ending injuries in his college career and was able to put up solid numbers through his collegiate career. With a strong showing at the NFL Combine on the field and in the interviews with the Cardinals, maybe he could see his name called first on draft night?
Sticking with the defensive side of the ball, we come to the third and final prospect that the Arizona Cardinals could consider with the #1 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft – that being Alabama Defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.
It’s fair to say that Robert Nkemdiche has been nothing short of a disappointment since he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals a few seasons back. Add to that the impending free agency for Rodney Gunter, Benson Mayowa and the advancing years of Corey Peters – the Arizona Cardinals defensive line, in short, is a mess and definitely needs some additions to it heading into the 2019 NFL Season.
Some consider Quinnen Williams to be a slightly undersized defensive tackle prospect, but he had a tremendous final year with the Crimson Tide and brought comparisons to one Aaron Donald. It’s tough to project someone to be as good as/better than Donald, but certainly someone of that talent would definitely be welcome on the Arizona Cardinals defensive line.
Would he be a better option than either Bosa or Allen though? Or would the Arizona Cardinals decision makers head down a different path…
Fortunately for the Arizona Cardinals, they have Josh Rosen. The jury may still be out on him being the franchise’s future after struggling through his rookie season – so, for the purpose of this article, we’re assuming that Rosen is our guy and nobody like Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray is going to change that.
Those two could entice any number of franchises to trade up to try and get their guy though – someone like Jacksonville, perhaps? New York Giants and their ageing Eli Manning? Could one of those teams be that enamoured by one of the top Quarterbacks and they offer up multiple selections for the Arizona Cardinals to move down and fill their roster with some much-needed
Sure, that would mean them passing on a talent like a Nick Bosa or a Quinnen Williams, but you could also argue that they are more than just either of those guys away from being contenders in the league again. So maybe more ammunition in the draft wouldn’t be a bad thing?
Then that could possibly open up the possibility of their divisional rivals, San Francisco, being able to add Nick Bosa and have him torment Rosen and co. for the next decade reminding them of what could have been had they simply turned down the offers and drafted ‘the best player available’.
I’m glad I’m not Steve Keim making this decision.
Then again, that’s only two possible scenarios that could happen with the top pick. There’s still one more to explore…
Trade For Established Talent
Now this is probably the most unpopular option that the Arizona Cardinals could explore, but one which could prove fruitful for a rebuilding franchise like they are. A straight-up trade of 1 for a player would no doubt go down like a lead balloon and add even more fuel to the ‘Keim Out’ fire, so that isn’t a suggestion being considered here.
However one such possibility that the top pick could be involved in a trade would be for want-away veteran WR Antonio Brown – in fact, I saw it speculated that the Cardinals and the Steelers could trade first-round selections with Pittsburgh ending up with the #1 pick and the Cardinals get Antonio Brown and the 20th overall selection.
Again, that’s probably not a trade that any of the Arizona Cardinals fanbase likely wants to see and so would never happen.
But, it’s Draft Season and crazy ideas are par for the course…