Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
It is nearly every super fan’s dream to be at the helm of their favorite NFL franchise–in this case, the Arizona Cardinals.
Of course, life is not a Kevin Costner movie (Draft Day, for those of you who have not seen it) and those of us spending countless hours of our lives scouring mock drafts from all over the internet are no closer to being in the war room than we are to our living room.
Now, I did not go as nearly ridiculously over-the-top as I assume some did. There was no gigantic draft board drawn on my wall that was rotatable with double sides, but rather a piece of loose-leaf paper and a black pen.
These picks are not necessarily where the Cardinals are going to in the draft, but a mix somewhere between where I would go, and what I almost expect.
Let’s have at it:
Round 1, #20 overall: Calvin Pryor – S – Louisville
Not the sexiest pick the Cardinals can make, admittedly. Unlike how many of us draft our Madden teams, a quarterback and stud linebacker from our favorite collegiate school is not always the proper route to take.
The question ultimately boils down to whether or not Pryor will be available this late in the first round. I am basing this projection on Ha Ha Clinton-Dix being taken in the 9-14 range, leaving Pryor prime for some flotation down to the middle of the first round.
Rated as an exceptional helper in terms of run support, Pryor could make waves immediately. Rather than drafting a quarterback to sit behind Carson Palmer, or a linebacker that is going to have to compete with Larry Foote, the Cardinals can fill an immediate need at the safety position early and worry about adding “skill players” at later points in the draft.
Round 2, #52 overall: Zach Mettenberger – QB – LSU
As highly touted (and deservedly so) as Johnny Manziel has been for his unpredictability in this draft, it is difficult to imagine a quarterback having a wider margin of error than Mettenberger.
Some drafts have him slotted as a selection in the early second round, which would insinuate he would not even be around for the Cardinals to take him at #52. Then, other boards have him as a marginal prospect, slotted for the 4th-5th round, meaning they would be making a huge reach on a player that would be there later on.
Personally, I am a fan of Mettenberger the quarterback. With the veteran receiving core in place in Arizona, he can not only learn from them, but Carson Palmer as well. There is zero immediate pressure to play, but can also hone his craft behind a quarterback that plays a style similar to his own.
(This could easily, and I mean, easily be A.J. McCarron instead. Either way, I think it is a solid pick. Personally, I’m more in the camp of Mettenberger.)
Round 3, #84 overall: Jackson Jeffcoat – DE – Texas
While Jeffcoat may be another name predicated on his high-profile university, he becomes an interesting selection in the third round.
To be honest, I would not be surprised to see him slip much further beyond this point, but that should all be based on what other ends are selected ahead of him and where.
The Cardinals could use an extra end to play in the 3-4 and while Jeffcoat fought off nagging injuries while at Texas, he is a proven game-changer when he can stay on the field. Coming in, he would not be expected to be an every down type of player, but rather a situational pass-rusher—a role he can thrive in.
Round 4, #120 overall: Crockett Gillmore – TE – Colorado State
Quite simply, the Cardinals have to draft a tight end.
The selection of Gillmore may turn out to be a flop, but his upside seems to be limitless. Not only is he known as a tenacious blocker, he can also snare the ball out of the air with the best of ‘em.
When it comes to later round selections, those players are still on the board due to their weaker pro day/combine results. In Gillmore’s case, he has been overlooked his entire career. Growing up in Texas, he was passed over by the countless football obsessed schools in the Lone Star state and took his game out to Colorado.
If the need is not addressed earlier in the draft, I would expect the Cardinals to look towards Gillmore.
Round 5, #160 overall: Gabe Ikard – C – Oklahoma
If he is on the table at this point, it seems like a no-brainer.
A stud in college at one of the highest level of college football (the Big-12 Conference), Ikard’s stock plummeted due to a putrid pro day.
Still, he is the fourth highest rated center in the draft. This lack of depth goes to show how precious drafting a center will be this year. In fact, I could see Ikard and Gillmore even being swapped in opposite rounds.
Round 6, #196 overall: Jeff Janis – WR – Saginaw Valley
You may be asking yourself, why? When really, you should be asking yourself, why not?
Should the Cardinals shy away from receivers in the early portion of the draft—, which they should— taking, a player like Janis is a worthy gamble. A big body at 6’3” and 220 pounds, never count out players from the stealthy Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference.
Reports have said Janis possesses “excellent speed.” Well, hell, if there is a 6’3” receiver with excellent speed available in the sixth round, sign me up.
Due to swapping their seventh round pick to the Oakland Raiders (thanks Carson Palmer), the Cardinals will only pick six times in 2014.
Unless of course, they make a trade. Which would surprise me. In the first few rounds, there are multiple players at multiple positions that fit needs. They would be best served to draft proven talent, rather than stockpile at the later rounds.
Let me know what you think heading into tomorrow. All morning, afternoon and night, Heat Waved is going to have you covered with what happens with the Cardinals and where they will be going.
If you are not already following us on Twitter over @HeatWavedFS, you are a step behind.