Mock draft

Gandhi

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Like the last couple of years, I have again been participating in a mock draft where all teams are being managed by fans. I was, of course, in charge of the Cardinals.

The rules are that we can trade as much as we want, but we cannot use players or future draftpicks as currency.

I know it is a long read, but I hope you will find it interesting.

You can click here to see how the entire draft unfolded. The forum is in danish but on the first page is an overview of all the selections that everyone can understand.

First round

I actually had an offer with the Browns for their #4 pick. I would get their pick in exchange for my first-, second- and two third round picks, and I thought that was too much. In the real draft, I would happily give up, say, three first round picks over three years, but not multiple picks in the same year.

So, in the end, I traded with the Bears. They got my first- and second round selections while I got their first- and sixth round pick.

#8 – quarterback Josh Allen, Wyoming

In the corresponding game two years ago, I selected Dak Prescott, and last year I selected Deshaun Watson. You can read about it by clicking here and here, but since the text is in danish I figured most of you won’t understand it. The short version is that I thought they were good prospects and that the Cardinals needed a quarterback to groom at the time. Third time is a charm, as they say, so now I try again.

I really like Josh Allen. As Steve Keim has said multiple times, more often than not they are right about the player but wrong about the person, and from the sparse material I have access to, I think Allen has the right mental makeup. At times he seems like this calm, happy and fun guy that most people like, and then he also has the other side where he has this drive to win and get better and where he is dedicated and focused on his task. He also has the mentality that you have to work hard to accomplish your goals, and he has a chip on his shoulder because every major college program turned him down coming out of high school. I believe that he can be the face of a franchise, I believe even veteran players will follow him and play hard for him, and I believe he will be focused and have the work ethic to be a good quarterback. Another thing I put huge stock into is how he changed the culture at Wyoming. He turned that program around and created a winning culture, and I think that says a lot about him.

We can all see that he has issues. Really, it only takes a look at his completion percentage, and if you watch the games you will find other issues as well. He doesn’t always make good decisions, and he doesn’t always throw the ball where his wide receivers can get it. Though, I cannot write about those things without mentioning his poor conditions with bad wide receivers, bad runningbacks and a bad offensive line since their best offensive players went to the NFL after last season. It might not have a direct affect on his numbers, but it’s easy to see it when watching the games. He had no time to maneuver around in the pocket and find targets to throw to. He couldn’t get any yards by handing the ball to his runningbacks. His wide receivers did not get open. I am exaggerating but you get the point.

Another thing I really like about him is how he has played in a pro style-offense both his years as a starter under head coach Craig Bohl. That includes calling the plays in a huddle, calling protection schemes, blocking schemes and stuff like that at the line of scrimmage, and even taking the snap from under center and dropping back is not something college-quarterbacks usually does nowadays. Carson Wentz played in the same system in college, and he has confirmed how much easier it made it for him to adapt to the NFL.

I will admit that Josh Rosen is my preferred first round pick, but if Sam Bradford can play an entire season so Josh Allen could sit and learn for a year, I believe this could potentially be a homerun pick, and definitely worth the second rounder I gave up.

Third round

In the last ten picks or so before my selection, the players that I had rated higher than this area began to fly of the board left and right. So I decided that I would try to trade back, maybe get another pick and don’t have to select someone I didn’t feel really good about picking at that spot. The only player I did consider drafting was cornerback Donte Jackson.

I ended up trading with the Rams. They gave me their third round pick, eight spots after mine, and their sixth round selection. I know I wasn’t supposed to trade with a division rival, but I figured since they have just acquired Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib they probably wouldn’t draft a cornerback in the third round, and also, I really wanted an extra pick to use later either on a player or to move up.

#87 – Cornerback Donte Jackson, LSU

Maybe I should have selected Jackson at my original draft slot instead of risking that he got picked by someone else, but the risk I took paid off.

It’s obvious in games that Jackson is extremely fast and a very smooth athlete. He can really blanket his opponent and he can both track the ball and bat it down when needed. At LSU he has been used both on the outside and the inside, and though he might look more like a nickel cornerback, he is good at both spots. There is no doubt that in some areas he needs a good amount of coaching up, but he has the natural talent and upside to do it.

Fourth round

When it was my turn with my second pick in the third round, I was choosing between three players. Those players where center Mason Cole, defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes and inside linebacker Jerome Baker. I decided to trade back a little bit, get an extra pick and hopefully still be able to select one of the three players. I got on offer from the Eagles of pick #101, the first pick in the fourth round, #206 in the sixth round and #250 in the seventh round.

#101 – Center Mason Cole, Michigan

Actually, I didn’t have Cole ranked highest among the three players I mentioned. I just think it’s perfectly fine to choose a certain position over the player you have ranked the highest. Obviously, you shouldn’t reach that much, if at all, but if the players are all ranked higher than the draft spot, and they are not ranked that far from each other, I will go with the position any time. Rookies are that important nowadays.

Cole is a fascinating evaluation since he played left tackle last season and has so for three out of his four years as a starter. I think, though, that he was best in 2016 where he had been moved inside to center. That is also where he thinks himself that he will play in the NFL.

He has a high football-IQ, and when he moved inside he apparently had no trouble helping the quarterback calling the protections and such in Jim Harbaugh’s pro style-offense. He plays with fairly good technique and a good low center of gravity. He is obviously more athletic that centers usually are. He needs some good coaching in certain areas, but I could see him being a starter pretty quick.

I think Shipley primarily was a starter because Arians was very loyal to him, and I can’t really figure out what to make of Boehm and Max Tuerk.

#134 – defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State

I was really happy that I could get Holmes at this spot. Actually, I thought about trading up but after being in touch with two other teams I thought it would be too expensive.

Holmes has only been a starter for part of last season, but he has been an important part of Ohio State’s vaunted defensive line for three years. In that time, he has played every position along the line in both the 3-4- and 4-3-defense. He has even played some linebacker.

The only thing I have read about Holcomb’s defense is that it is a 1-gap defense. That should suit Holmes perfect. I think he is a major talent, and if he can live up to his potential, I think he could be a starter for years.

Fifth round

#152 – wide receiver Auden Tate, Florida State

With my first four picks I tried to fill holes on what I consider to be the most important units on a team. You could make the argument, though, that wide receiver might be the biggest need of all of them.

I think Auden Tate has the making of a #1 or #2 receiver. In no way am I saying that he will become that. I just think he has the potential. I like that he has good body control and thus how he is good at using his big body to shield off defenders. He wins a lot of jump balls and contested catches, and even though he is not that fast, he can get separation by running decent routes.

Sixth round

I was disappointed when first the Steelers selected wide receiver Cedrick Wilson and then the Eagles took wide receiver Daesean Hamilton, both shortly before my turn. I really wanted to select another wide receiver to try to solidify the unit. Brice Butler does absolutely nothing for me. There are other receivers I have graded higher than my picks in the sixth round, but no one as high as Wilson and Hamilton, but we will se how the board falls.

I had four picks in this round, and I even thought I might try to trade up to get a fifth.

#176 – offensive tackle Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T

I wouldn’t say Parker is all potential, but it’s not that far off. The first time I saw him was two seasons ago when he was blocking for runningback Tarik Cohen who since has become a key player for the Chicago Bears.

Parker has the size, the strength, the athleticism and a huge wingspan to become a starter in the NFL. He does need some better technique, and overall he is probably like a blank canvas that the coaches can paint a picture on.

I like John Wetzel but he’s not exactly world class. I could see Parker become a good swing tackle fairly quick, and down the road maybe compete for a starting job.

#181 – defensive tackle Andrew Brown, Virginia

Brown was highly recruited coming out of high school and had offers from all the big programs. Unfortunately, he ended up staying home at Virginia. Unfortunately because it meant that for four years and through two coordinators he would play a two gap-technique on their defensive line. That doesn’t suit Brown’s strengths at all. Because of that, it was great seeing him dominate at the Senior Bowl where he got to play a more attacking style in a one gap-system.

Brown has a very explosive first step, he has multiple pass rush-moves and he plays with good hand technique. His motor is always running, and no one will play harder than him.

#182 – inside linebacker Matthew Thomas, Florida State

Thomas was the #15 overall recruit nationally coming out of high school, and he had scholarship offers from almost every school in the country. He ended up at Florida State, and he had some rocky years with them.

After a few games in his first season he went down with a season ending injury. Then the next season he was suspended for half the season. Shortly before the season ended, he lost his mom to a lung disease. He then fell into a black hole and simply stopped caring about things. Because of that he didn’t take care of his study, and the school declared him academically ineligible for the 2015-season. The last two seasons, though, he has been a very good defender for them, but a couple of month ago he oddly sat out their bowl game for unspecified reasons.

Thomas is a fantastic athlete, but lacks to play with great instincts, play with good playing strength and to play with that undefinable demeanor that he wants to do great. However, Al Holcomb obviously has a history of doing great things with linebackers.

#196 – wide receiver Robert Foster, Alabama

A returning theme for my sixth round-selections has, other than Parker, been highly recruited players that for various reasons has underperformed in college. This pick is no different.

Foster was brought in with the expectation that he would be the next superstar receiver at Alabama. He started great in his first three games as a redshirted sophomore as he caught 10 balls for 116 yards and two touchdowns, and generally played great. In the third game he got injured and was lost for the season. His replacement was Calvin Ridley, who in my opinion is the best receiver in this draft, and thus the fight to be Alabama’s most dangerous weapon was basically lost for Foster as well.

Last season Foster started every game, but the Alabama quarterback preferred to throw to Ridley, and so Foster didn’t post big numbers. Part of the reason was of course that Foster was simply not good enough.

He is lightning fast and has good athleticism. He is very dangerous with the ball in his hands.

The rumor is that multiple teams hoped that because of his small production he would not get invited to the Combine. The reasons are that they hoped he would continue to flow under the radar so that their team could easily pick him up in the later rounds. I have no idea if the rumor is true.

#206 – edge rusher Ebenezer Ogundeko, Tennessee State

I decided to trade up to select Ogundeko as he was one of only two prospect I had a significantly higher grade on than the sixth or seventh round. So I packaged both my seventh round selections and were able to trade with the Chiefs.

It would almost be weird if I didn’t select an underachiever with my last pick in the sixth round. At least an underachiever the first years of his time in college. I most say, though, that I had runningback Akrum Wadley out of Iowa ranked the highest, but I thought an edge rusher would be a better pick.

Ogundeko was a fairly high ranked recruit who choose to go to Clemson. In his first season he didn’t do much, but before the 2015-season he was kicked out of the school because of credit card fraud. He went on to play for Tennessee State but not more than a couple of month into his stay in Tennessee, he was arrested and accused of punching someone in the face. He was not charged, though.

Ogundeko is an explosive player and he plays with fine technique. He has obviously played against lesser competition for a couple of years, but he has dominated against it, and then it’s hard to ask for more.

By the way, the Cardinals has selected a highly talented yet unrefined defender from Tennessee State before with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Conclusion

1. quarterback Josh Allen, Wyomin

3. cornerback Donte Jackson, LSU

4.1– center Mason Cole, Michigan

4.2– defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State

5. wide receiver Auden Tate, Florida State

6.1 offensive tackle Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T

6.2 defensive tackle Andrew Brown, Virginia

6.3 inside linebacker Matthew Thomas, Florida State

6.4 wide receiver Robert Foster, Alabama

6.5 edge rusher Ebenezer Ogundeko, Tennessee State

There is an enormous potential in this draft class, but I also think it is very much a boom or bust class. I could have selected players with a higher floor on their talent but also with a lower ceiling. I choose to take the riskier approach. The reason I did that is that I think the Cardinals are way behind the Eagles, the Vikings and the Saints in the conference, and even the division can be hard to compete in. Thus, I think the Cardinals need a lot more talent and you could say I went for the jackpot in this game. In the best-case scenario this class would revolutionize the Cardinals. More realistically they will get maybe one or two key players and some good contributors.

Josh Allen is obviously the biggest wildcard. If he pans out, I think he will be one of the best in the league. I think he will either be really bad or really good. I find it hard to believe that he would be just an average starter. Other than that, I guess Mason Cole and Andrew Brown are somewhat solid players that should be contributors, and I would be surprised if Auden Tate couldn’t at least be part of the rotation. The entire sixth round is a bigger lottery than a draft class usually is with players that are immensely talented and could be a lot better pros than college players, but truth be told, I would not be shocked either if all of them were out of the league in the not so distant future.

It was also deliberately that I did not select any wide receivers before I did. Well, maybe I should have selected one in the fourth round, but my point is that wide receivers are used completely different in college than in the NFL and thus most of them are nowhere close to being ready when their rookie season starts. I think the trend started about five years ago or not long before that. In the last five drafts 41 wide receivers has been selected in the first two rounds. Only three of them can realistically be described as real difference makers now, and about six or seven others are solid contributors. A lot of them are not even with the team that drafted them anymore.

I would have liked to get a tight end somewhere in the middle or later rounds but the board just didn’t fell my way. I thought about Tyler Conklin out Central Michigan in the sixth round.
 

Garthshort

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If Allen turns out to be the real deal, then you did a good job. W/o the benefit of hindsight, I'm very concerned that we ended up with about the 10th CB (I'm guessing) off the board for our starting CB2. And then to wait until the sixth round for a MLB, we'll have to be very lucky. But like I said, if Allen ....... .
 

overseascardfan

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This draft fills a lot of holes. If ARZ can sign DRC then Jackson can man the slot which he is more suited for but you addressed everything else including OT, G/C, WR and DL. I also like Thomas out of FSU, I think he will turn out to be a solid pro.
 
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Gandhi

Gandhi

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If Allen turns out to be the real deal, then you did a good job. W/o the benefit of hindsight, I'm very concerned that we ended up with about the 10th CB (I'm guessing) off the board for our starting CB2. And then to wait until the sixth round for a MLB, we'll have to be very lucky. But like I said, if Allen ....... .

I understand what you are saying, Garth, but I don’t think it necessarily means anything how many cornerbacks that were drafted in front of him as it relates to the Cardinals. I mean, some of the other cornerbacks is best in either zone coverage or man coverage, some play off coverage better than bump’n’run at the line of scrimmage, some are more cover guys than tackling cornerbacks and so on. I don’t know what Wilks and Holcomb prefers, but it could easily be what Jacksons offers more so than what some of the other prospects offers.

Another thing I want to add, and I am not necessarily saying that I agree, is that some would argue that nickel cornerback is the hardest cornerback spot to play as the receiver can go both ways and thus the cornerback needs to be extremely aware.

In reality, maybe I would have drafted a cornerback in the second round if I had my second round selection, but even if I had my original pick I did not have any cornerbacks ranked around that area. I could have traded up, though, to target Isaiah Oliver or Mike Hughes, both of whom I have graded high.
 
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Gandhi

Gandhi

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This draft fills a lot of holes. If ARZ can sign DRC then Jackson can man the slot which he is more suited for but you addressed everything else including OT, G/C, WR and DL. I also like Thomas out of FSU, I think he will turn out to be a solid pro.

That is a great thought. I did not select Jackson based on that, but I think the unit would be very strengthen if that scenario were to play out.

I also like Thomas out of FSU, I think he will turn out to be a solid pro.

He certainly has the potential.
 
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Gandhi

Gandhi

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Excellent reviews of prospects. You really did some homework.

Thank you, Wild. I appreciate it! Yes, I have spent a lot of time studying these prospects from the little material that is available to us fans. I think it’s fun, and I am just happy to include some of you guys in the little journey toward the draft.
 
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