Identifying the Four Aces in The Cardinals' 1st Round Hand

Mitch

Crawled Through 5 FB Fields
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Posts
13,405
Reaction score
2,982
Location
Wrentham, MA
It would be very interesting to have a glimpse of the 5 Cards in the Cardinals first round hand.

It would appear---from the type of interest the Cardinals have been showing in certain players thus far---that they are holding three aces in their hand as we speak:

The Ace of Spades: QB Cam Newton, 6-6, 246, Auburn. Will Whiz be shaking this young man's hand in Glendale on April 29th?

The Ace of Hearts: QB Blaine Gabbert, 6-5, 240, Missouri. Will Gabbert be dining with the Bidwills, Whiz and Steve Keim on the eve of April 29th?

The Ace of Diamonds: OLB Von Miller, 6-3, 240, Texas A&M. Will Whiz and staff be making a Texas A&M toast seconds after playing this ace?

The question then becomes: what player is the Cardinals' Ace of Clubs?

It would be very interesting to know because Newton, Gabbert and Miller are likely three of the aces in the Panthers', Bronocs', Bills', and Bengals' hands as well (perhaps Newton and Gabbert in a lesser extent for the Broncos---but with their uncertainty at QB, and John Elway on board, who knows?).

The reality is...all three aces in the Cardinals' hand might be played by the time it is the Cardinals turn.

Much, imo, will depend of what the Buffalo Bills do at #3. I am convinced that Carolina will take one of the two QBs at #1...and I have a very strong feeling that the Broncos are going to cash in on their top ace, DE Marcell Dareus at #2. So, then we have the Bills---and they seem to be in somewhat of an identical position that the Cardinals are in---torn between taking a QB or an edge rusher.

If the Bills take the 2nd QB...the chances are good that Von Miller becomes the Cardinals' choice at #5.

If the Bill take Von Miller...then the tension will mount as to whether the Bengals will tab the 2nd QB---which, in their situation, with Carson Palmer's house on the market and one foot out of the clubhouse door, the Bengals would seem to be behooved to do.

Thus---if this is the scenario:

1. CAR: Gabbert
2. DEN: Dareus
3. BUF: Miller
4. CIN: Newton

The Cardinals will need to throw down their Ace of Clubs.

But, again, who is their Ace of Clubs?

While the obvious answer would seem to be CB Patrick Peterson, 6-1, 211, LSU...a player who is arguably the best athlete in the draft.

However...the most significant question here is whether Patrick Peterson is the right fit in Ray Horton's defense. Horton is a zone schemer deluxe and Peterson is a "press" corner. Scouts question how well Peterson's game translates to zone---some question that Peterson is better suited to play safety in the NFL, which might be deja vu all over again for the Cardinals (see Antrel Rolle---the #9 pick of the 2005 draft).

One could argue that regardless of the considerations listed above that Peterson could bring immediate value as a nickel slot CB and return man. Sounds good, right? The question is, however, do you draft a player at #5 who doesn't project as a starter? And one who---because of the question about being the right fit---may not be a starter until perhaps Kerry Rhodes' contract runs out and the team converts him to FS?

One other thought---don't be surprised if CB Ike Taylor is at or near the top of the Cardinals' UFA wish list. Chances are---because Horton and defensive back assistant DeShea Townshend are so close to Taylor---the Cardinals will outbid the field for his services. Taylor is Horton's idea of the ideal zone LCB for his system.

Now you might ask---what then happens to DRC? Do not be surprised if the Cardinals put DRC on the trading block once the lockout lifts and once Taylor is signed.

Well, what about RCB? Believe it or not---Greg Toler and A.J. Jefferson possess the kind of physical attributes that Horton wants in his RCB.

Then there is the question of the Cardinals' most pressing defensive need: adding an edge pass rushing threat. When Ray Horton and Kerry Rhodes have spoken about adding "a couple of missing peices" in order to make this year's defense dynamic, the "couple of missing pieces" they are referring to are at the outside and inside linebacker positions.

The problem here is the question marks surrounding the OLB/DE prospects projected to go early in the draft:

Robert Quinn, 6-5, 260, North Carolina. The year off---character concerns---not exactly blowing scouts away at the Combine.

Da'Quan Bowers, 6-4, 280, Clemson. The knee issue---and the issue of where he plays in Horton's defense---he would have to be a 34 DE at his size. He does not project as a 34 OLB. Thus, as in the case with Peterson, can the team afford to draft a situational player at #5? The argument can be made that a three man 34 DE rotation is the equivalent of needing 3 starter-types.

I don't think anyone questions Quinn's and Bowers' talent.

The Wild Card? To me, it's Justin Houston, 6-3, 263, Georgia---a player who just jumps out at you when you watch his tapes. He can fit on either edge, strong or weak. Has has the most explosive first step in this draft and get this---he was just running 4.5 40s at 6-3, 263 at his pro day. The issue here is---Houston is projected as a middle to late first rounder---so, if he's the Cardinals' Ace of Clubs...can the Cardinals trade down and still be able to select him? Or---are the Cardinals that strong in their belief in Houston that they are fine with taking him at #5?

If the Cardinals are as high on Houston as I hope---they are keeping this ace very close to their vests.

Yet, there may be another ace the Cardinals are keeping very close to their vest and that is 34 DE Nick Fairley, 6-5, 298, Auburn. In fact, I think that here is the Cardinals' Ace of Clubs. Fairley is a unique talent and he is an instant fit in Horton's defense. Just yesterday, Darnell Dockett was agreeing to the notion that he needs to be spelled for more regularly in order to keep his legs fresh. Imagine a three man rotation of Dockett, Calais Campbell and Fairley. Imagine too that Fairley could line up at NT a couple of series a game to spell Dan Williams. The value here is enormous---especially for a defense that needs to start stopping the run and pressuring the QB with more regularity.

Interestingly, Fairley has set up visits and workouts with 8 of the top 10 teams in the draft...and the Cardinals are not one of them. However, Whiz was there at Auburn's Pro Day...and when he wasn't working out Cam Newton and shaking his hand...there is a very strong chance Whiz was taking a good, thorough look at Fairley on the other side.

Therefore...my guess is: the four aces are Newton, Gabbert, Miller and Fairley.

My guess is that one of them will be available at #5 and therefore one of the will be the newest member of the Arizona Cardinals. :newcards:
 
Last edited:

asuhoopsnut

Registered
Joined
Feb 23, 2004
Posts
521
Reaction score
0
Mitch ..... I always enjoy and look forward to your posts. This post was a great read! As much as I like Justin Houston, I do think that at #5 that would be a very big reach. I was just watching the NFL Network. The comments that both
Mayock and Lombardi made about Houston are a concern. Mayock was saying that although he thinks Houston's skills are very good, he does not look good on tape. Both Mayock and Lombardi feel that he is at best a late first rounder, but most likely a second round pick. Depending upon who we pick in the first, if Houston is there in the second he would be a consideration. I do like the possibility of picking Fairley if Miller is not on the board.
 

Cardiac

ASFN Icon
Joined
Jul 21, 2002
Posts
11,715
Reaction score
2,505
Excellent and creative post Mitch.

I agree with your 3 aces but I'm not sure they are the FO's top 3.

If the Cards have Peterson in for a workout couldn't they have him run some drills to see if he can play zone type schemes? You gotta love his size and speed so I'm sure that part fits Horton's wish list.

I don't watch much college FB but I did catch an Auburn game and was far more impressed with Fairly then any other player in that game. If the Cards do have him as their Ace of Clubs I would be more then okay with that. I don't know that he could play much at NT at 298lbs. I do think he could be rotated in during passing downs in the middle of the D-line.

asuhoopsnut does have the info about Houston correct. I did come away with thinking they said his big plays were too far and few between and they were dissapointed there wasn't more tape of him playing to his obvious outstanding athletecism. In other words he dissapeared too often in too many games.

The thing that scares me off Quinn the most is his brain tumor. It's benign but it is a bit of a red flag.

Fairly as the ace of clubs and Peterson as the Joker.
 

RugbyMuffin

ASFN IDOL
Joined
Apr 30, 2003
Posts
30,484
Reaction score
4,842
Does Patrick Peterson fit in Horton's system ?


"Little guys that can hit" <---- Yep, he certain does. More than DRC, might I add.

That is your ace of clubs.
:smiliefan:
 

desertdawg

Banned
Joined
Sep 1, 2010
Posts
21,831
Reaction score
1
Location
@Desertdawg777
Me too, I really like them 3 aces and in that order. If by chance we do trade down...Houston is a guy to look at. :)
 

kerouac9

Klowned by Keim
Joined
Feb 14, 2003
Posts
30,208
Reaction score
9,779
Location
Gilbert, AZ
One-gap DTs like Dockett and Fairley are not anything close to what Horton's system is about (as much as Horton's system is an evolutionary Dick LeBeau system). Pittsburgh's DEs essentially play 5-technique and keep the OL occupied while the LBs flow to the football. That's neither Dockett nor Fairley's strength.

Honestly, if you're not playing Fairley as a three-technique, I'm guessing he becomes disinterseted even more quickly than Darnell Dockett seems to.

There are good five-technique DTs in this draft: Cameron Jordan, Marcel Dareus, J.J. Watt. Watt and Jordan would be semi-reaches, but I'd rather take a player who could do what I'm asking him to do than AGAIN take a player who's good at one thing and ask him to excel at those things he's not good at.
 
Last edited:

Chopper0080

2021 - Prove It
Joined
May 15, 2002
Posts
21,454
Reaction score
19,046
Location
Colorado
One-gap DTs like Dockett and Fairley are not anything close to what Horton's system is about (as much as Horton's system is an evolutionary Dick LeBeau system). Pittsburgh's DEs essentially play 5-technique and keep the OL occupied while the LBs flow to the football. That's neither Dockett nor Fairley's strength.

Honestly, if you're not playing Fairley as a three-technique, I'm guessing he becomes disinterseted even more quickly than Darnell Dockett seems to.

There are good five-technique DTs in this draft: Cameron Jordan, Marcel Dareus, J.J. Watt. Watt and Jordan would be semi-reaches, but I'd rather take a player who could do what I'm asking him to do than AGAIN take a player who's good at one thing and ask him to excel at those things he's not good at.

This is the exact mentality to have when drafting in the top 10.
 

az jam

ASFN Icon
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Posts
12,206
Reaction score
3,454
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Peterson will be the pick if Dareus, Miller and the qbs are gone. He is a shut down CB, the best player in the draft.
 
OP
OP
Mitch

Mitch

Crawled Through 5 FB Fields
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Posts
13,405
Reaction score
2,982
Location
Wrentham, MA
Mitch ..... I always enjoy and look forward to your posts. This post was a great read! As much as I like Justin Houston, I do think that at #5 that would be a very big reach. I was just watching the NFL Network. The comments that both
Mayock and Lombardi made about Houston are a concern. Mayock was saying that although he thinks Houston's skills are very good, he does not look good on tape. Both Mayock and Lombardi feel that he is at best a late first rounder, but most likely a second round pick. Depending upon who we pick in the first, if Houston is there in the second he would be a consideration. I do like the possibility of picking Fairley if Miller is not on the board.

Thanks, asuhoops. As for Houston not looking good on tape, go and youtube him and see for yourself. He led the SEC in sacks for a good reason...he explodes off the snap and has the strength to maintain leverege straight to the QB. Plus, Georgia switched to a 34 this year and Houston played both SOLB and WOLB---so he's already ahead of the curve and is made to order as 34 OLB.

I value Mayock's and Lombardi's opinions---and I usually tend to agree with them. In Houston's case, I do not. Besides---if he "doesn't look good on tape" as they suggest, why do they have him rated as a late first rounder or early second rounder?

This is the thing about the draft...pundits are often mistaken. Five years ago the rap on LaMarr Woodley was that he wasn't "athletic" enough to play 34 OLB and he wasn't "big" enough to play 43 DE. We know how that evaluation turned out.

Would you give up the #5 pick for Woodley? Would you even have to think about it?

I think the issue with Houston is that he has only stood out for one year at Georgia (and he's a junior entry)...but when they put in the 34 this past year, he was a natural fit and he thrived in that system. Thus, the pundits don't have more than a year's tape on him playing in the 34---so there's only so much tape to go on.

But really...go youtube him and see for yourself...go see the game versus Georgia Tech where he had two sacks, four other pressures, a forced fumble and a game sealing pick six. Watch his explosiveness in that game---it's outstanding.
 
OP
OP
Mitch

Mitch

Crawled Through 5 FB Fields
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Posts
13,405
Reaction score
2,982
Location
Wrentham, MA
Excellent and creative post Mitch.

I agree with your 3 aces but I'm not sure they are the FO's top 3.

If the Cards have Peterson in for a workout couldn't they have him run some drills to see if he can play zone type schemes? You gotta love his size and speed so I'm sure that part fits Horton's wish list.

I don't watch much college FB but I did catch an Auburn game and was far more impressed with Fairly then any other player in that game. If the Cards do have him as their Ace of Clubs I would be more then okay with that. I don't know that he could play much at NT at 298lbs. I do think he could be rotated in during passing downs in the middle of the D-line.

asuhoopsnut does have the info about Houston correct. I did come away with thinking they said his big plays were too far and few between and they were dissapointed there wasn't more tape of him playing to his obvious outstanding athletecism. In other words he dissapeared too often in too many games.

The thing that scares me off Quinn the most is his brain tumor. It's benign but it is a bit of a red flag.

Fairly as the ace of clubs and Peterson as the Joker.

You are right in what you saw, Cardiac, of all the college d-linemen this year, Fairley was the one who stood out the most. He has a rare blend of stength and quickness...and he has a tremendous nose for the ball.

As for Houston...I didn't see him ever disappearing in games. Sure, like all players, he didn't impact every play...but, man, he plays with an energy level and a passion that is exemplary. Plus, you can't teach that explosive first step off the snap---best I've seen in the past few years.

On another note...was reading yesterday that the player all the scouts cannot stop raving about is Ryan Kerrigan. They all tab him a "limited athlete"---but an unstoppable force. And while we are talking about players disappearing---you will never ever see it from Kerrigan---he never ever takes a play off---which for pass rushers is a rarity because of how gassed they can get.

I will say this...and this is what's so hard about the draft...because of all the pundits acting like they know where and when these players should be taken---Ryan Kerrigan is the most relentless player in this draft.
 

Buckybird

Hoist the Lombardi Trophy
Joined
Nov 11, 2002
Posts
24,625
Reaction score
4,793
Location
Dallas, TX
Thanks, asuhoops. As for Houston not looking good on tape, go and youtube him and see for yourself. He led the SEC in sacks for a good reason...he explodes off the snap and has the strength to maintain leverege straight to the QB. Plus, Georgia switched to a 34 this year and Houston played both SOLB and WOLB---so he's already ahead of the curve and is made to order as 34 OLB.

I value Mayock's and Lombardi's opinions---and I usually tend to agree with them. In Houston's case, I do not. Besides---if he "doesn't look good on tape" as they suggest, why do they have him rated as a late first rounder or early second rounder?

This is the thing about the draft...pundits are often mistaken. Five years ago the rap on LaMarr Woodley was that he wasn't "athletic" enough to play 34 OLB and he wasn't "big" enough to play 43 DE. We know how that evaluation turned out.

Would you give up the #5 pick for Woodley? Would you even have to think about it?

I think the issue with Houston is that he has only stood out for one year at Georgia (and he's a junior entry)...but when they put in the 34 this past year, he was a natural fit and he thrived in that system. Thus, the pundits don't have more than a year's tape on him playing in the 34---so there's only so much tape to go on.

But really...go youtube him and see for yourself...go see the game versus Georgia Tech where he had two sacks, four other pressures, a forced fumble and a game sealing pick six. Watch his explosiveness in that game---it's outstanding.

I agree Mitch...Houston was credited with 44 QB pressures this year, not bad for a guy who doesn't bring it every play. He brings the size & speed to the Cards LB corp that is much needed on the edge. I really believe in 3 years people will look back & see Houston as the more complete 3-4 OLB compared to Miller.

Just because the so called experts have Miller & Quinn rated as top 10 picks & Houston as a late 1st to early 2nd doesn't mean thats how their careers will pan out...see Aaron Curry vs. Matthews & Cushing!!! Now Curry is supposedly on the trading block.
 
Last edited:

az jam

ASFN Icon
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Posts
12,206
Reaction score
3,454
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
I think players like Kerrigan and Houston could be good picks if the Cards ended up trading with a team that has a pick in the teens.
 
OP
OP
Mitch

Mitch

Crawled Through 5 FB Fields
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Posts
13,405
Reaction score
2,982
Location
Wrentham, MA
I think players like Kerrigan and Houston could be good picks if the Cards ended up trading with a team that has a pick in the teens.

You are reading my mind, jammer. Stay tuned for a new mock that will be headed your way in a hour.
 
Top