The Cardinals are desperate for a starting quarterback, so they could be forced into this pick if they don't find a viable replacement for the retired Carson Palmer prior to the 2018 NFL Draft.
Sam Darnold was considered to be the favorite to be taken first overall for a while, and that could still be the case. However, we've seen USC quarterbacks slip before, and Darnold could be the next to do so. He struggled this past season, and there was speculation among teams that he would return to school. Darnold surprised them by declaring. I've heard some concern about the bright lights of the NFL could be too much for Darnold, so it wouldn't surprise me if he dropped a bit.
Rd. 2, Pk. 15
Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T
The Cardinals will need to make a couple of upgrades to the offensive line to protect their new quarterback. Jared Veldheer was awful last year and is currently considering retirement, so he'll need to be replaced.
Pick change; previously Arden Key, DE
Rd. 3, Pk. 15
Jamarcus King, CB, South Carolina
The Cardinals have been dying for competent play across from Patrick Peterson for years. If they can find a shutdown cornerback to pair with Peterson, it would really take their defense to another level.
Rd. 5, Pk. 15
Martez Carter, RB, Grambling
A poor man's Tarik Cohen, Martez Carter would be an interesting weapon to add behind David Johnson.
Sources have told me that Bruce Arians loves Pat Mahomes, so I think he and Deshaun Watson could be in play here. The Cardinals could easily take a linebacker in Reuben Foster, but they took a chance on a character concern last year in Robert Nkemdiche, and that doesn't look very good a year later. Howard is one of the safest picks in the 2017 NFL Draft and will give Arizona a receiving weapon. Larry Fitzgerald is aging, Michael Floyd was cut, and John Brown is in the last year of his contract. Here's a long-term weapon for Arizona.
Howard is a safe pick, meanwhile, and the organization, including general manager Dave Caldwell, needs a safe pick after Luke Joeckel was a bust, Blake Bortles is trending that direction, and Dante Fowler is still an unknown. Howard is one of the safest picks in the 2017 NFL Draft as a plug-and-play starter. Marcedes Lewis turns 33 just after the draft and is more of a blocker, while receiving tight end Julius Thomas was traded away. Howard would give Bortles another weapon, and Howard's blocking would be an upgrade over Thomas in double-tight end sets.
Howard had 45 catches for 595 yards and three touchdowns in 2016. In 2015, he made 38 catches for 602 yards and two touchdowns. Howard totaled 17 receptions for 260 yards in 2014. The 6-foot-5, 249-pounder flashed big-time potential in 2013. The freshman hauled in 14 passes for 269 yards - 19.2 average - with two touchdowns.
The talented tight end was very under-utilized by Alabama, generally. As he proved with Robert Woods, Marqise Lee, Amari Cooper and then Calvin Ridley, former Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin settles on one receiver and struggles to call plays for anyone else regardless of their talent or mismatch potential. Howard is a fast and dangerous receiving weapon who is a dynamic mismatch weapon. He is too big for defensive backs and too fast for linebackers. Howard looks like a future Pro Bowl tight end. Sources say Howard still needed to improve his route-running and blocking, but he was able to show progress in those areas as a senior. His blocking was significantly better to the point that he was making an impact as a blocker late in his senior year.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Davis Webb, QB, California
The Cardinals grab their understudy for Carson Palmer.
In 2016, Webb completed 62 percent of his passes for 4,295 yards with 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The graduate transfer has a strong arm and can make some well-placed passes downfield. He also has good size and stands tall in the pocket. Webb shows some field vision to work through his progressions, but he doesn't have mobility for the NFL. In terms of the critical characteristic of accuracy, Webb has potential. Sources say Webb (6-4, 229) can be erratic, but that they like him enough to think of him as a potential second-day pick. California's offense does a poor job of preparing quarterbacks for the NFL - see Jared Goff -, so Webb will have to learn calling plays in the huddle, working under center, traditional footwork for a pro quarterback, and running NFL plays instead of California's Bear Raid college plays.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU
The Cardinals cut Michael Floyd, John Brown is in the last year of his contract, and Larry Fitzgerald is aging. Thus, Arizona could target some receiver help.
Dupre totaled 41 receptions for 593 yards and three touchdowns in 2016, but LSU's receivers were generally held back by the program's quarterback play. In 2015, Dupre had 43 receptions for 698 yards and six touchdowns despite poor quarterback play in a ground-based scheme. As a freshman in 2014, he recorded 14 catches for 318 yards for five scores. Dupre (6-2, 196) has a lot of potential and could have produced more if he had played in a passing offense.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic
The Cardinals could add multiple defensive linemen since Calais Campbell left in free agency and Robert Nkemdiche struggled as a rookie.
Hendrickson was one of the stars of the East-West Shrine with a strong week of practice. He did well in the pass-rushing one-on-ones and notched a lot of wins. In 2016, Hendrickson totaled 51 tackles with 15 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two passes batted. He had 13.5 sacks as a junior.
Hendrickson could be a mid-round sleeper. Sources have said they graded him in the early rounds of Day 3, but sneaking into the second day is possible. Hendrickson had an impressive combine performance.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Dwayne Thomas, CB, LSU
The Cardinals grab a corner to compete.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Eddie Vanderdoes, DT/3-4DE/NT, UCLA
The Cardinals grab more interior defensive line competition.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Marquez White, CB, Florida State
The Cardinals will probably add some corner competition in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Dylan Cole, OLB, Missouri State
The Cardinals have hosted Cole and could use some edge-defender depth.
The Cardinals grab their replacement for Carson Palmer. Allen could remind Bruce Arians of his time in Pittsburgh working with Ben Roethlisberger. <br> <br>
Allen has completed 63 percent of his passes in 2017 for 502 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. <br> <br>
Allen was running for his life all day against Iowa in Week 1. The Wyoming offensive line was dominated, and Allen got no help from his supporting cast. He also made mistakes of his own, including two ugly interceptions, and there easily could have been at least one more interception that was dropped by Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell. Allen ended up completing 23-of-40 passes for 174 yards with two interceptions and zero touchdowns. Overall, Allen showed his big skill set with size, toughness, athleticism, and a strong arm. There were plays where he looked like a young Ben Roethlisberger. There were other plays where Allen showed bad decision-making and inaccuracy. <br> <br>
Allen will probably be a high pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but his 2017 season opener indicates that he could be a work in progress who will need some developmental time. His completion percentage and interception total from 2016 provide evidence for that assessment. He completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,203 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last year.<br> <br>
Allen (6-5, 222) became a discussed prospect late in the 2016 season, but he wisely decided to return to Wyoming. He has a special skill set, and some draft analysts were projecting him high in the first round, but one general manager told WalterFootball.com that he had Allen as a third-day prospect and thought Allen should improve before going pro. Other team sources that did advance work for National Scouting for the 2018 prospects really liked Allen and compared him to Ben Roethlisberger, so don't be surprised if he is a polarizing prospect. Still, Allen has a great skill set with tons of upside.
The Cardinals grab a quarterback. They could move back into the first round for Mayfield. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-2, 214-pound Mayfield is undersized for the NFL with just average arm strength. He can also have issues reading defenses. One big area for improvement for Mayfield is his footwork as he gets happy feet in the pocket. One college scouting director told me that Mayfield's feet are terrible. In speaking with one NFL general manager, they said they liked Mayfield and had a fourth-round grade on him. Their team always are hard graders on quarterbacks, and they like how Mayfield has played this year. He could end up being a second-day pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. <br> <br>
Mayfield has completed 71 percent of his passes so far this season for 4,340 yards with 41 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also has five rushing touchdowns. In 2016, Mayfield completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,965 yards with 40 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He picked up six rushing touchdowns as well.
The Cardinals grab their replacement for Carson Palmer. <br> <br>
In 2017, Jackson has completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,387 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. He has also taken 65 carries for 337 yards and four rushing touchdowns. Some team sources think that Jackson is worthy of being a top-10 pick and will rise in the leadup to the draft similar to Pat Mahomes. Other scouts think they may end up with a second-round grade on Jackson. <br> <br>
Jackson has a great athletic skill set, including a powerful arm that can make all throws the NFL requires and some rare passes. While his tremendous running ability gets a lot of attention, Jackson is better passing from the pocket than he is given credit. Jackson will take some shots and deliver good passes in the face of the rush. He also handles Bobby Petrino's scheme well. Jackson can be inconsistent with his accuracy, and needs to add weight to his frame for the NFL. <br> <br>
Jackson (6-3, 205) set college football on fire in 2016 while winning the Heisman Trophy. He was a massive point-producer for the Cardinals. Jackson completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. He also ran for 21 touchdowns and 1,571 yards while averaging six yards per carry.
The Cardinals grab a quarterback competitor.
Rudolph is very much a love/hate prospect in scouting circles, but of late, I've heard more teams putting lower grades on him and sources expressing more doubt. I've heard grades as low as the fifth and sixth round on Rudolph in recent weeks. I'm of the opinion that he is a third-day prospect and would grade him as a fourth-/fifth-rounder, but I could see a team reaching for him on Day 2 during the 2018 NFL Draft. <br> <br>
For the NFL, Rudolph has some serious limitations. He is not very athletic and isn't a running threat, while his arm strength is just average. Rudolph also needs to improve his shaky accuracy and terrible anticipation. Routinely, Rudolph doesn't pull the trigger on a throw until his receiver has long since gotten wide open rather than anticipating the play to get the ball out faster. The length of time he holds the ball in the pocket is going to be a problem in the NFL. Rudolph is also inconsistent with his field vision as he can work off his first read, yet other times he stares down targets. His games against West Virginia and Texas provided other examples of him struggling to throw into tight windows. <br> <br>
In 2017, Rudolph has completed 66 percent of his passes for 4,904 yards with 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He completed 63 percent of his passes for 4,091 yards with 28 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2016. Rudolph ran for six scores as well last season.
Cardinals Trade: 12th overall, 3rd round. 6th round 2019 1st and 4th round.
Browns Trade: 4th overall (from Texans). 7th round.
The Browns don't like to take QBs high unless they're a stud. They're probably aiming at Darnold next year if the Peyton Manning joining their FO are true they may convince him Cleveland isn't so bad. They also still have Kizer who has shown a little promise, and he may improve from Manning or just with experience. No matter what I think they trade this pick, with who and for what is subjective, but I think it's with either the Broncos, Chargers, or Cardinals. The Cards, picking the latest of the 3, and feeling the most pressure with Palmer likely gone after his injury, move first and select their QB of the future (assuming they don't get anyone in FA).