Gandhi mock draft

Gandhi

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Again this year I participated in a mock draft game (https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/americanfootball/gm-mock-2023-drafttr-den-t2050.html) with co-GM’s from all 32 teams.

My main goal in the draft was to stabilize the Cards. To raise the floor. Stop the bleeding. In my opinion, that should be the first focus, and since they need players everywhere, I could use the draft to select players that I feel can be solid building blocks, as opposed to shooting for the stars, which I think a draft is usually used for. Obviously there have never been a safe draft choice, and there never will be, so I am just trying to project the higher floor-players.

First round

I wanted to trade down, but it is very difficult to find anyone willing to buy the pick, since they would have to pay basically their entire draft to do so. We are not allowed to trade anything else than 2023 draftpicks, so I would have accepted nothing less than at least five or six of that teams’ available selections.

I am very intrigued by edge rusher Tyree Wilson, and I think he could be an absolute monster in the NFL, but I think he need some time to get going in the NFL.

#3 – Will Anderson, pass rusher, Alabama

I think it is fair to question if Will Anderson is the best defensive end in the class, mainly because of his size. Players like Tyree Wilson and Derick Hall might be a more natural fit for that role. However, Anderson is without a doubt the best pass rusher, and in Gannon’s multiple defensive schemes (which I assume Rallis will run as well), there are easily a spot for Anderson. And also, in general, if the player is good enough, he makes it work.

Second round

I was highly in doubt with this selection. I tried to sell it but couldn’t find any buyers.

I thought about adding C Steve Avila or C John Michael Schmitz, but they are about the same level, and there are two or three other really interesting centers in this class, so I decided to play the lottery-game and hope that I could get one later.

I thought about cornerback Clark Phillips, but decided to pray that his size will push him to the third round. I don’t really believe it will, but I thought it was too soon for this high a selection, even though his play is at an elite-level. It is the projection to how it will translate that is my problem. If I could have sold my pick and moved to the middle of the second round, Phillips would likely have been my choice.

#34 – Keeanu Benton, defensive tackle, Wisconsin

In the end, adding a giant nose tackle made the most sense to me. An athletic nose tackle is very important in Gannon’s scheme (think Jordan Davis), and though he is not quite on the same level as a prospect, I think that Benton could take that role. I first became aware of him at the Senior Bowl, where he dominated and maybe earned himself the most money of any player there. That made me look at videoclips of him, and he skyrocket up my rankings. He is a steady player who never take plays off, and he can play several different ways in the trenches as he is good in both the pass- and run game.

Third round

There was about an entire day between my second and third pick, and I was changing my mind on my pick all day. I had especially two players I kept considering – obviously with the risk that both would be taken. They were:

Wide receiver Rashee Rice. Even if Hopkins stay, I think that the Cards need another receiver, and especially a big one.

Cornerback Clark Phillips. It can seem strange that I doubted taking Phillips after what I wrote about the last pick, but the supply and demand worried me. I felt there were 3-4 cornerbacks slightly worse than Phillips (all that I expected gone except for maybe one or two), whereas I thought there was a big drop off at WR after Rice. A choice of Phillips here would be emotional over rational instead of the other way around.

I did give a little thought to offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan, but felt the need and value were too big with the other two players. Thus, I did not consider trading the pick either.

#66 – Rashee Rice, wide receiver, SMU

Rice’s biggest strengths – contested catches and the best blocking WR in the class - should be transferable to the NFL and should make him fit into Drew Petzing’s visions (as far as if he is inspired by the Brown’s offensive schemes). Further, his size, weight and speed make his ceiling quite high.

At the time of this pick, Nuk Hopkins is still with the team, but even if he leaves before this game ends, I will not regret selecting Rice. I think that he is a very different type from Hollywood Brown, Rondale Moore and even Greg Dortch, and I think that the Cards’ offense needs more than only Hopkins to complement the little and quicker guys.

Third round continued

It was hard to see my three targets get taken between my previous- and current pick.

Clark Phillips – see description earlier.

Edge rusher Derick Hall – I would probably have let him go anyway, since it is clearly non-serious that he would be available in the end of round three. For whatever reason he must have been forgotten by the other GM's. I like to make these games as realistic as possible.

Cornerback Darius Rush – He has a big potential with his size, athleticism, and that he has only played CB for two seasons. He would also have been a relatively safe choice due to his special teams-abilities.

I considered defensive tackle Karl Brooks here but decided that the selection of Benton made it less necessary.

Because of the development mentioned, I wanted to sell the pick, but I didn’t find any buyers.

#96 – Eli Ricks, cornerback, Alabama

I know full well that this is a very risky boom-or-bust selection, but I have made more stable selections with the first three picks, so I will allow myself this.

Ricks is a bit of a strange case. He was highly, highly ranked coming out of high school, and for one-and-a-half season he played at an elite-level at LSU, before an injury stopped his second season. Then he transferred to Alabama, for unknown reasons (maybe because head coach Ed Orgeron were fired), but because of another injury did not play until the second half of the season. However, when he did get regularly playing time, he again played on a very high level.

So, it is at least fair to argue that if you can get his injuries under control, you could potentially have a true #1 cornerback.

I know that it is very risky to bet on that a flier like this solves the cornerback-issues.

Fourth round

#105 – Ricky Stromberg, center, Arkansas


This is my guy. Every year there are a small number of players that I really, really like, though I know rationally that they are not supposed to be top picks.

Stromberg is a four-year starter in the SEC, so he has seen everything that the best defenses can throw at him. When I evaluate O-line player, things must be very obvious on the videoclips, since I am not good enough to get into details, and it is that way with Stromberg. He plays every snap as if his life depended on it, and he always finish his blocks all the way. He is intelligent enough to understand angles and when to help his teammates with double blocks. He is not a good athlete, though.

I never considered other players here than Stromberg, and even though there was not a lot of time to confuse myself after my last pick, Stromberg was one of the players I had targeted from the start.

Fifth round

I had hoped that DE/DT Viliami Fehoko out of San José State would have dropped this far. He is another of my favorite players. And in his introductory press conference, Gannon talked about that he wanted violent players – Fehoko is the human definition of “violent.”

Since he did not, I only considered edge rusher KJ Henry, Clemson. Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane. Could be a stud but doesn’t fit the profile for this draft-strategy.

I tried to sell the pick since there was no prospect that I felt great about at this spot, but no one wanted to move up for someone.

#168 - Terell Smith, cornerback, Minnesota

I think that Terell Smith is a more solid pick than Eli Ricks in the third round, but also that Smith doesn’t have quite the same high potential. Smith is a 5th your senior, who have experience in every possible defensive scheme. He is versatile and have an outstanding combination of size, speed and play toughness. Strangely, he was great in his first and last season in college, while the three in between was just okay, but if the Cards can make him work, he could be a bigtime player.

The reason that I feel like he is a fairly solid pick is that he almost certainly has the abilities to play both safety and special teams if needed.

Sixth round

I considered:

Runningback Zach Evans, Ole Miss. I think that a runningback is a luxury pick, and I don’t think that the Cards can afford those. Evans is easily my #3 runningback, but still not my highest ranked player at this spot.

Offensive lineman Trevor Reid, Louisville. Offensive lineman Jon Gaines, Florida, won the Scouting Combine, and I got interested in the idea that the Cards could take him. Until Trevor Reid annihilated those numbers at his Pro Day. His 40-yard, broad jump, vertical jump and bench press would all have been #1 at the Combine. He is a like a piece of clay, but certainly an enticing one.

Cornerback Myles Brooks, Louisiana Tech. Best cornerback (arguably one of the best defenders) outside the Power 5 Conferences.

Again I tried to sell the pick, so that hopefully I could have gotten one or two of the mentioned player, as well as my actual pick, but no, not this time either.

#180 – Dee Winters, S/LB, TCU

I know what you think, but please let me explain.

I feel that Winters is a relatively safe pick. He is a four year-starter with TCU and was the soul in their strong defense last season. He is experienced in a lot of different schemes and play designs. Further, he was a safety before becoming a linebacker, and since Gannon deployed several defensive schemes and play designs with the Eagles (and I suppose that Rallis will copy that), I don’t doubt that they can use Winters correctly.

But the two deciding reasons for this pick was that Winters was by far my highest rated player, and I see him becoming a great special teamer as a minimum.

Position is obviously a very important component in drafting, and I know that they have signed every linebacker in free agency. I just think that if Winters outplays all of them, then this would still be a great pick.

Sixth round continued

I really wanted tight end Davis Allen (Clemson) to fall to me. He is not a run blocking tight end, nor a pass catching tight end. He is just a solid, solid player that should provide good depth as a minimum. He was taken just two spots ahead of me, though.

East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers literally are a descendent of Ragnar Lothbrok, a legendary Danish viking-king. I am Danish, so of course I considered drafting him. Ahlers is actually an interesting prospect as well, but that would be secondary.

#213 – Malik Knowles, wide receiver, Kansas State

Best kickoff return man in the draft (based on return yard-average), and an offensive weapon moreso than “just” a WR. Knowles is a classic height-weight-speed prospect, but he is different in the sense that most of his damage come as a runningback on jet sweeps and such. Not that he is a burner, but he has enough speed, as well as jiggle, vision and balance to be a dangerous runner.

Further, as I noted, he does have potential as a wide receiver.

----------------

So there you have it.

1 – Will Anderson, edge rusher, Alabama

2 – Keeanu Benton, defensive tackle, Wisconsin

3A – Rashee Rice, wide receiver, Ole Miss

3B – Eli Ricks, cornerback, Alabama

4 – Ricky Stromberg, center, Arkansas

5 – Terell Smith, cornerback, Minnesota

6A – Dee Winters, safety / linebacker, TCU

6B – Malik Knowles, wide receiver, Kansas State.

My own thoughts are that this class raises the floor for the Cards’ level. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that seven of the eight picks are solid, albeit maybe not spectacular, prospects, and even though it is bad idea to talk about anything sure in the draft, I don’t see most of these players become big busts. The exemption is Eli Ricks. He has all the talent in the world, but he is certainly also a lottery ticket because of his injury history. He could become a shutdown corner if the coaches get him under control.

All of the other I think could get significant playing time – either from the start or from some point during the season.

Looking back, I would probably have taken Clark Phillips over Rashee Rice, and Davis Allen over Dee Winters, but that is easy to say now that I know where those players will go.
 

Krangodnzr

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Outstanding, and realistic mock.

I think Benton goes earlier than a lot of mocks say he will. With the relative dearth of DTs in this draft he will be drafted earlier.

Rashee Rice could be a future #2 receiver.

Ricks has tons of upside, and graded very well compared to where he is ranked.

Stromberg is powerful and has a future in the NFL. He's to the point that he is underrated at this time. Brett Kollman talked about how when he was rating his DTs from this draft, he walked away thinking, "Man, all of these DTs got their butts kicked by Stromberg."
 

Krangodnzr

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When I run mocks, I always consider a S or a LB just because I think you try to take one every draft.

Winters is a player we know the Cardinals have met with.
 
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Gandhi

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Outstanding, and realistic mock.

I think Benton goes earlier than a lot of mocks say he will. With the relative dearth of DTs in this draft he will be drafted earlier.

Rashee Rice could be a future #2 receiver.

Ricks has tons of upside, and graded very well compared to where he is ranked.

Stromberg is powerful and has a future in the NFL. He's to the point that he is underrated at this time. Brett Kollman talked about how when he was rating his DTs from this draft, he walked away thinking, "Man, all of these DTs got their butts kicked by Stromberg."

I don't count out that Benton could go in the first round, Krang. There are surprises every year.
 

Krangodnzr

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I don't count out that Benton could go in the first round, Krang. There are surprises every year.
I agree. DT is very shallow this year and Benton offers a combination of pass rushing and run stopping. Guys like Mazi Smith don't.
 

Snakester

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Solid draft with much insight and thought. I like that you kept Will Anderson and got us a needed DT. We badly needed to help out our front seven losing Watt and Allen. Both Anderson and Benton are day one starters and bringing in a CB high was also something that had to be done.
 

Garthshort

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I wouldn't be unhappy with your draft. But, with the news of Colt McCoy retiring, how about an off the wall selection of the Florida QB. We would have a year to evaluate him and Kyler, since this looks like a lost year. Then, next offseason we could move one of the QB's.
 
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Gandhi

Gandhi

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Solid draft with much insight and thought. I like that you kept Will Anderson and got us a needed DT. We badly needed to help out our front seven losing Watt and Allen. Both Anderson and Benton are day one starters and bringing in a CB high was also something that had to be done.
Snake, I strongly considered taking Karl Brooks, defensive lineman out of Bowling Green, with my last third- or fourth round pick. I like him a lot, and I would not be against it if they did end up with three d-linemen in the draft.
 
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Gandhi

Gandhi

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I wouldn't be unhappy with your draft. But, with the news of Colt McCoy retiring, how about an off the wall selection of the Florida QB. We would have a year to evaluate him and Kyler, since this looks like a lost year. Then, next offseason we could move one of the QB's.
Garth, there are small chatter that they could target one of the top quarterbacks next year - and thus consider this season lost, but as is sort of an investment. Do you believe it? I am not sure, but they have certainly not done anything to show otherwise so far in the offseason.
 

bankybruce

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I wouldn't be unhappy with your draft. But, with the news of Colt McCoy retiring, how about an off the wall selection of the Florida QB. We would have a year to evaluate him and Kyler, since this looks like a lost year. Then, next offseason we could move one of the QB's.
Colt hasn't retired. This is was the Driskel press release and hour ago. Bucky was probably PWI.

"When Jonathan Gannon was asked last week about whether there would be a competition between Colt McCoy and David Blough, the Cardinals coach was adamant.

McCoy has been Murray's top backup for the past two seasons and figures to be the favorite going into the offseason. But with a new coaching staff, how the depth chart will sort itself out remains a mystery. The Cardinals have their first minicamp April 25-27."


 

Garthshort

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Garth, there are small chatter that they could target one of the top quarterbacks next year - and thus consider this season lost, but as is sort of an investment. Do you believe it? I am not sure, but they have certainly not done anything to show otherwise so far in the offseason.
Naturally, I don't think it will happen, but have no idea how long Kyler will be out. We'd have two version of the same type QB. And unless KM will be back sooner than later we do have to do something at the QB position.
 

Totally_Red

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I want a center who can play guard in the second but it sounds like you went BPO which is never a mistake. :)
 
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Gandhi

Gandhi

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Naturally, I don't think it will happen, but have no idea how long Kyler will be out. We'd have two version of the same type QB. And unless KM will be back sooner than later we do have to do something at the QB position.
One of the issues is Murray's contract that makes it very difficult to trade him, or even cut him, after next sesaon, because it would give a massive cap hit, and thus prevent the team from using that money in other ways. While the cap is easy to get around, you cannot ignore it, so it would be a big liability. You could argue that it would be feasible to keep Murray on the roster, since the new guy would be on a rookie contract, but it still would seem like a big waste of money.
 
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