Trade! If one of Josh Rosen or Josh Allen falls into the 6-10 range, which is likely to happen, I could see the Cardinals trading up for a franchise quarterback. They signed Sam Bradford to a large contract, but they would be crazy to think they can rely on him for more than one season. It's likely that Arizona envisions Bradford as the quarterback for just 2018, allowing them to hand over the controls to whichever signal-caller they move up for in this class.
I think it would make sense for Arizona to move up to this spot. General managers Steve Keim and Ryan Pace have a relationship that should help facilitate this, and I could see the Bears wanting to move out of the eighth spot if Quenton Nelson is off the board (and it's very likely he will be.) Chicago doesn't have a third-round pick, so it may want to recoup that by trading down.
*** OTHER 2018 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. D.J. Moore, WR (at 15) - Arizona's top target at 15 seems like it could be Moore, as the team will be looking to upgrade across from Larry Fitzgerald, all while finding a No. 1 receiver for the future.
2. Mike Hughes, CB (at 15) - The Cardinals have to replace Tyrann Mathieu's production, and Hughes would be a strong option.
Rd. 2, Pk. 15
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
As mentioned in the opening round, the Cardinals have a big need at receiver. They have to find a starter across from Larry Fitzgerald for the present and a new No. 1 for the near future.
Rd. 3, Pk. 15
Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Cardinals had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last year, so they must do everything in their power to upgrade it.
Connor Williams is seen by many as a tackle, but some NFL personnel believe that because of a lack of length, he'll have to play guard even though he's not really strong enough to play guard.
Rd. 3, Pk. 33
DeShon Elliott, S, Texas
The Cardinals inexplicably cut Tyrann Mathieu, who signed with the Texans. They'll have to find a replacement at safety early in the draft.
Rd. 4, Pk. 34
J.C. Jackson, CB, Maryland
The Cardinals have needed a viable cornerback across from Patrick Peterson for quite some time now. Here's a possible solution.
Rd. 5, Pk. 15
Mark Walton, RB, Miami
The Redskins could use a mid-round pick on a running back, as they don't have any exciting options at the position.
Rd. 6, Pk. 8
Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State
The Cardinals lost Xavier Williams to the Chiefs, so they could stand to add a new nose tackle.
Rd. 7, Pk. 20
Ade Aruna, DE/3-4OLB, Tulane
The Cardinals could address their edge-rushing needs as early as the opening round. This also is a logical pick.
Rd. 7, Pk. 36
Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane
Arizona needs some cornerback depth, which they could address late.
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 trade up for a future starter at the quarterback position in Lamar Jackson. Arizona signed the Sam "Glass" Bradford to a one-year deal and journeyman Mike Glennon as a backup this offseason after the retirement of Carson Palmer. However, new head coach Steve Wilks needs to be looking for a quarterback to develop as his own. The Cards have been rumored to be looking to trade up for a franchise passer this offseason and in this scenario find a potential trade partner in John Lynch of the San Francisco 49ers.
San Francisco will be looking to trade down with no elite wide receiver prospects in the class and Quenton Nelson off the board to help their franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Lynch only moves down six spots while acquiring draft capital to help build his young roster. Lynch moved down in last year's draft for a similarly quarterback hungry team in the Bears and I predict they will do the same this year. In this trade, Arizona obtains the 9th overall selection (1350 pts), while the 49ers receive the 15 (1050 pts), 79 (195 pts), & 97 (112) = 1357 pts.
I believe Lamar Jackson will be drafted much higher than what is currently projected by most draft experts. Jackson's stock has fallen because he has not hired an agent throughout the draft process, but his on-field collegiate tape cannot be denied. Jackson won the Heisman, Davey O'Brien, and Maxwell trophies during his 2016 campaign after passing for 3543 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions at a 56.2% rate and running for an additional 1571 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. He continued his college dominance the following year by throwing for 3660 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions at a 59% rate and rushing for 1601 yards and 18 touchdowns. Jackson has been characterized as inaccurate and having too light of frame for the professional game, but I think he is the closest interpretation of Michael Vick that we have witnessed since he got drafted first overall in the 2001 NFL draft. During the draft process, NFL evaluators such as Bill Polian have advised Lamar Jackson to switch his position to wide receiver to capitalize on his elite athleticism which has led to him skipping out on running the 40 at the combine and his pro day. Jackson is, despite expert's opinions, a quarterback and possesses the game changing and playmaking ability to make a difference for a team on Sundays in the NFL. Jackson ran a pro style offense at Louisville and has proved the ability to perform on in big games when dueling former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in the 2016 College Football Playoffs and being one receiver stepping out of bounds from making it to the National Championship, despite lacking true NFL talent on his Louisville roster. General manager Steve Keim and head coach Wilks will have the luxury of letting Jackson sit and learn behind Bradford and Glennon, and even being able to explore special packages to allow Jackson to see the field. (Lamar Jackson is my #2 quarterback prospect in this year's draft)
The Cardinals miss out on the consensus top-10 quarterbacks, and around the league, many scouts would say this is too high for Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson. But, Arizona is desperate for a long-term quarterback. Steve Keim has taken some non-traditional players in the first round and some boom-or-bust types like D.J. Humphries, Robert Nkemdiche and Hasaan Reddick. Thus, I don't think Keim will be afraid to pull the trigger on Mayfield or Lamar Jackson if he feels strongly about them. <br> <br>
In speaking to multiple teams, they had second-day grades on Mayfield, but that doesn't mean he won't go in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. In speaking to a a couple of general managers, they thought Mayfield would go behind the top-10 quarterback prospects. Still, Mayfield could cause teams to fall in love with him and crack the top 10. It still is early in the process, so a lot can change. <br> <br>
Mayfield (6-0, 216) is a gritty gunslinger who has an "it factor" to his game. He doesn't have elite arm strength, but his arm is good enough to make the throws required in the NFL. One of Mayfield's most impressive strengths as a passer is being able to locate the ball well and throw receivers open. He is very good with his timing and trajectory on passes to hit receivers on the run and set them up for lots of yards after the catch. Mayfield is very skilled to loft in touch passes downfield and throws a very catchable ball. He has excellent mobility to dodge sacks, escape pressure and extend plays with his feet, plus he throws well on the run.<br> <br>
Sources say Mayfield can have issues reading defenses, and his field vision needs to improve. He can struggle to throw the ball in tight windows when being forced to operate out of the pocket. One big area of focus 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 and he will need a lot of development there for the NFL. A NFC general manager said they have concerns about how Mayfield will perform when teams force him to stay in the pocket. They also have concerns that Mayfield beat up on a lot of weak Big XII defenses and feel there is the chance that he gets exposed against NFL defenses. Evaluators who have seen Mayfield in person would estimate him to be around 5-foot-11 or 6-foot. While there have been some successful short quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, that is the exception to the norm for quarterbacks who are below 6-foot-2. <br> <br>
Mayfield completed 71 percent of his passes in 2017 for 4,627 yards with 43 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also had five rushing touchdowns and one receiving. 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. 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.
I don't think Rosen will slide this far, but I think Arizona would trade up for him if he gets out of the top five. They have a number of teams that would be willing to trade down picking ahead of them. <br> <br>
WalterFootball.com was first to report that Rosen would enter the 2018 NFL Draft, and he made his public announcement in the first week of January. In 2017, Rosen completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,717 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The junior was up-and-down over the season with highs and lows, including at least one concussion. He had a legendary performance in UCLA's 2017 season opener versus Texas A&M, leading one of the greatest comeback wins in college football history, turning a 44-10 third-quarter deficit into a 45-44 win. <br> <br>
Of the top quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, Rosen has the best mechanics and is the most natural pocket passer. He throws a tremendous ball and can really spin it with his powerful arm. Rosen's tight spiral helps him to get his passes through tight windows and beat good coverage. The 6-foot-4, 226-pounder has serious arm talent with field vision and pocket presence. Rosen has well-documented concerns with his intangibles. Team sources told me Rosen made efforts to be a better teammate over the last year and half and showed progress there. Some general managers have told me about their concerns about Rosen being a partier, so he will need to ease some doubts during his pre-draft interviews and visits. There also are durability concerns with Rosen, who missed seven contests over the past two seasons and was knocked out of a few games as well.<br> <br>
Rosen had an impressive debut as a freshman in 2015, completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,670 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. As a sophomore, he completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,915 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in six games before suffering a season-ending injury.
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.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with Mason Rudolph Going to Cardinals
Rd. 1, Pk. 10
Josh Rosen, QB
I worry about Josh Rosen. There are stories about his lack of dedication to football. There are partying issues as well, which is why I thought his fit in New York would've been a disaster. He also has an injury history. There were also some unreported things about him that I found troubling as well.
That said, I can't hate on this pick. Rosen is the last of the "top" quarterbacks available, and Arizona's only viable player at the position is Sam Bradford, who may not make it to Week 2. All the Cardinals surrendered were third- and fifth-round picks, so this is a good deal.
Rd. 2, Pk. 15
Christian Kirk, WR
I've had Christian Kirk slotted to the Cardinals at this pick for a long time, as the fit absolutely made sense. Kirk, once considered a first-round prospect of some sort, can be considered a steal in the middle of Round 2. The Cardinals desperately needed receiving help, and Kirk will provide that as well as a boost in the return game.
Rd. 3, Pk. 33
Mason Cole, C
The Cardinals found their next quarterback, then they gave him a dynamic weapon to work with. Now, it was time to give him better protection, which was essential, given the state of the poor offensive line. Mason Cole played left tackle at Michigan, but he's a natural, fundamentally sound center. I think Cole could've gone about 20 picks earlier than this, so I like the value.
Rd. 4, Pk. 34
Chase Edmonds, RB
Chase Edmonds is the sort of running back Bill Belichick would like, but Steve Keim is the one taking another Pennsylvania prospect. Chase Edmonds is a nice third-down back who can contribute on special teams. This is a solid pick, as Arizona needed better insurance for David Johnson.
Rd. 6, Pk. 8
Christian Campbell, CB
Christian Campbell is a great athlete, but hasn't been able to translate that to on-field play yet. If the Arizona coaches can mold him into the player he should become, he could be a starter in the near future. He could also flop easily, but it's a good decision to take this sort of a shot in the sixth round.
Rd. 7, Pk. 36
Korey Cunningham, OT
Korey Cunningham possesses plenty of upside. He's very athletic, and he was also productive at Cincinnati. The problem is that he lacks the length to be a tackle and the strength to be a guard. If he can develop some strength, he might be able to stick around as a backup lineman.