The Arizona Cardinals are a few pieces away from being Super Bowl contenders. If it weren’t for an historic meltdown by Carson Palmer in the NFC Championship game, the Cardinals may have been holding the first-round’s last pick this year. Instead, Arizona holds the 29th pick. After acquiring Chandler Jones from the Patriots, the Cardinals no longer have a second-round pick, making each selection crucial.
Team Needs: Cornerback, Offensive Tackle, Center, Defensive Tackle (Round 1, Pick #29
Based on talent alone, Robert Nkemdiche is one of the draft’s most intriguing prospects. Boasting ideal size for an exterior 3-4 defensive end, the former Rebel becomes special when you factor in his rare combination of strength, speed and athleticism. In a very deep class for the position, Nkemdiche is widely considered the highest-upside player. Several off-field issues, however, raised red flags for organizations — causing his slide to the Cardinals at pick 29. With the maturity turnaround we’ve seen from Tyrann Mathieu, it’s not likely that Nkemdiche will be a distraction. The pairing of Nkemdiche with newly acquired Chandler Jones, should create a solid one-two punch of pass-rushing defensive ends to improve upon the team’s 20th overall rank in sacks from a season ago.
Round 3, Pick #92
In Brandon Williams, the Cardinals receive an explosive athlete with an extremely high ceiling. After playing running back for the first three years of his collegiate career, the man who ran a 4.37 40-yard-dash at the NFL Combine switched to the other side of the ball. As a first year corner playing in the SEC, Williams played well enough to warrant a third-round pick. While it’s entirely possible that the learning curve will be too much for him to handle, it’s equally likely that since he’s played the position for such a short time, yet with decent enough success, he still has a lot of room for improvement.
Round 4, Pick #128
Round 5, Pick #167
Round 5, Pick #170
Round 6, Pick #205
With their last pick, the Cardinals elected to grab another potential playmaker in the secondary. In Miller’s last three seasons, he broke up 33 passes — 11 of which he turned into interceptions. The Cardinals’ ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ could actually prove quite relevant if he’s able to add some weight on his 182 lb. frame. Miller certainly doesn’t figure to start for the Cardinals’ uber-talented secondary, but if he can bridge the talent gap from the small Southland Conference to the NFL, don’t be too surprised to see this playmaker find his way onto the roster, and occasionally into the rotation in deeper pass-protection packages.