It’s the week of the 2018 NFL Draft which means it is time for the unveiling of Tom’s Fave Five of possible prospects for the Cardinals to take at 15.
The NFL Draft is just days away and, with the Arizona Cardinals still being in possession of the fifteenth overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, there are plenty of prospects for them to potentially take with it.
Using realistic options for the franchise, I’ve narrowed down my list to a selection of five options for the Arizona Cardinals franchise – although, using my artistic licence, there are actually more than 5 guys mentioned in this selection.
Let’s get on with it though…
1. A Quarterback of the Future (Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson)
Here is where I can begin to use the aforementioned artistic licence as there are a number of possible options at the Quarterback position at 15. Given the importance of the position though, there is always a chance none of these 3 is even able to be considered, as there are several other teams in the running for a first-round quarterback.
However, a quarterback is (and always has been) a need for the Arizona Cardinals. Even when Carson Palmer was still kicking about, it was still a need because of his advancing years, but it was never addressed…and now it’s a case of the team with another ageing QB holding the fort.
At the start of the NFL Draft process, it seemed to be more of a likelihood that Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield would be a realistic option for the Arizona Cardinals and that UCLA’s Josh Rosen was out of their reach.
Now, the closer we get to the Draft, it seems as though the options have switched and that maybe now Josh Rosen is the more attainable option for the Arizona Cardinals franchise and Baker Mayfield may be out of their reach (unless there is a trade-up in the works.)
There is a third option in this section though – one who should be an option for the Arizona Cardinals at 15 and that is Louisville’s, Lamar Jackson – he has had a sketchy pre-draft process where teams have supposedly been unable to arrange meetings with him.
Nevertheless, he seems as though he’s the most likely to be available at 15 without the need for a trade-up in the 2018 NFL Draft. Would he work in AZ? Who knows, but he’d be a pretty exciting player to watch if they were able to draft him and have him as the teams’ QBotF.
2. Cornerback 2 (Josh Jackson, Isaiah Oliver)
If Denzel Ward was a possibility then he’d be my #1 choice at the position but, like last year with Marshon Lattimore, it would appear we were too good to draft the best cornerback out of Ohio State. There have been mock drafts where he’s been just out of our reach, so who knows come draft day.
So, a couple of more realistic prospects make it into my Fave Five (which is already up to 5 people…and I’m still not done, so it’s kind of false advertising.) and both would be massive upgrades at the cornerback position that isn’t filled by Patrick Peterson.
The good thing with the cornerback position in the 2018 NFL Draft is that it seems as though there’s enough depth that would allow the Cardinals to pick up a starting-calibre cornerback in the 2nd or even 3rd round of the draft. Maybe even later if they could unearth another Josh Norman-type guy.
Should they go for the upgrade at 15 though, it’s certainly possible that both Josh Jackson or Isaiah Oliver would be available with the pick. Both tall, prototypical cornerbacks with outstanding levels of production in the college game – given the dearth of talent at the position on the Cardinals roster, either guy would be an immediate starter at CB2 and sort out the biggest issue in the Arizona secondary.
3. Protecting The Quarterback (Mike McGlinchey, Kolton Miller)
The Arizona Cardinals offensive line is still a big issue for the franchise, especially when stop-gap solutions like Andre Smith are brought in. Yes, there’s been significant investment in the unit with the big-money acquisition of Justin Pugh to take over the Right Guard spot but there are still many more questions about the unit.
One way the franchise could answer said questions would be if they invested yet another first-round selection on the offensive line – given Steve Wilks’ comments with regards to “winning games in the trenches” and “having a strong run game”, perhaps it’s not outside the realms of possibility that an offensive lineman might be the selection at 15.
DJ Humphries showed flashes of the first-round talent in his short stint on the field last season before another injury cost him a bigger opportunity to show that we don’t have to worry about the Left Tackle position going forward. However, with the injury, there is still that niggling question that he might not be a long-term answer at the position.
Were that to be the case, bringing in an offensive lineman with the adaptability and capability of lining up both at Left and/or Right Tackle might be a smart choice – and it’s a good thing then that there is a pair of tackles in the upcoming draft that could fit the bill there.
One of those is Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey (a player I have mocked to AZ in the past) who might be the second-best offensive lineman in the entire 2018 NFL Draft – behind fellow Golden Domer, Quenton Nelson – and might be a day 1 starter for the Cardinals, relegating Smith to a backup role, if he proves his worth in the leadup to the 2018 NFL Season. He’d also be a safer pick than option 2 of the offensive linemen at least.
The other option at offensive tackle would be UCLA’s athletic freak, Kolton Miller. Miller had an exceptional showing at the NFL Combine, catapulting himself into first-round consideration and perhaps an option for the Arizona Cardinals at 15 should a team before them take McGlinchey? Whatever they choose to do, Miller would be another guy with the potential to come in and play on the right-hand side of the line and also on the left should the need arise down the line.
4. Never Enough DJ’s… (D.J. Moore)
With the advancing years of Larry Fitzgerald, it seems as though wide receiver is a need always near the top of the needs list for the Arizona Cardinals – sure, Michael Floyd never panned out and the rookie season from John Brown proved to be a one-season wonder – but besides Fitzgerald, there isn’t much else on the roster right now that excites fans for the future.
That’s where Maryland Wide Receiver D.J. Moore becomes a possibility with the 15th overall selection, or later should the opportunity arise for them to trade down and pick up selections for later rounds in the 2018 NFL Draft. Watching Moore play, he looks like he would be a fantastic addition to the Cardinals offence and one who would be capable of contributing from Day 1.
However, like several other positions in this upcoming draft class, there are several wide receiver options that could be solid contributors out of rounds 2 & 3, potentially even later as well. Guys like Equanimeous St. Brown, Christian Kirk, Dante Pettis, D.J. Chark to name but a few. A first round receiver might not be atop the list of needs for the Arizona Cardinals, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if they did spend a first-round pick on Moore.
5. Linebacker…again??? (Leighton Vander Esch)
With the switch to a 4-3 defence under Steve Wilks, the Arizona Cardinals may use their 15th overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft on another linebacker to go alongside fellow first-round selections Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick – possibly overkill to add Vander Esch to that mix as well, but certainly one I wouldn’t complain about having to watch each week.
Like Kolton Miller earlier, Vander Esch’s draft stock skyrocketed after a stunning performance at the NFL Combine showcased his athletic ability and got many talking about him s a first-round prospect in the draft. However, with just one solid season of production at Boise State (but what a season it was, in all fairness), there isn’t much else to go on when drafting him.
Comparisons to an early version of Karlos Dansby might be music to Arizona Cardinals’ fans ears until he leaves them for big-money move years down the line before returning on one-year deals throughout the remainder of his career…
Still, there are days to go until the 2018 NFL Draft, but that was my Fave Five (which consists of 9 people…as I said, artistic licence), so hopefully we once again draft one of them like they have done the previous 2 seasons…
We’ll soon see.