First of all, a quick shot out to Tyler Piedamonte. Thanks for reading.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to get excited for a draft. Surprisingly, it’s been since 2007 since the Cardinals had a top-10 pick. I know all first round picks are cream-of-the-crop talent but the first five to 10 players drafted are – or at least should be – instant impact players. Just look at last years first two picks: St. Louis Rams’ Sam Bradford (A rookie record 3512 passing yards, 60% completion rate, offensive rookie of the year) and Detroit Lions’ Ndamukong Suh (10 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble return for a touchdown, defensive rookie of the year). Both players were the best players on their side of the ball for their respective teams. Fortunately the Cardinals will be drafting fifth overall, and there is a surplus of talent the Cards will be able to pick from.
The 2011 NFL Draft is looking like it could be one of the strongest immediate impact player drafts. Auburn’s Nick Fairley and Clemson’s De’Quan Bowers are pretty much locked in for the first two picks unless Denver or Carolina do something completely out of line. As far as those two players go, Kanye West probably wrote the song “Monster” in honor of them. Most of you probably saw Fairley tear apart Oregon’s offensive line in the National Championship game where he recorded three tackles for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Due to his strength and knowledge, he is easily comparable to Suh. Bowers, on the other hand has not had as much publicity because Clemson never really excelled while he was there, but the 6’4, 275 pound beast lead the nation in sacks with 15.5 and recorded 63 tackles. He would be comparable to former number one overall pick, Mario Williams.
After these two players are drafted, it seems to be a total crapshoot of incredible talent. A lot of mock drafts have Buffalo at three drafting a quarterback, linebacker or cornerback. The same could be said for Cincinnati at four, and the Cardinals at five. So that makes it really difficult to predict the Cardinals pick because, frankly, no player is a lock to be there (Except University of Arizona’s Nic Grigsby because no one is going to draft him.). But I will list what players I would ideally like to draft:
Cameron Newton: If you know me at all, you know I’ve had a man crush on Cam since about halfway through the college football season. When I saw his 6’6, 249 pound frame run around, through and over SEC defenses and effortlessly toss the ball 40 or 50 yards into a receivers hands, I knew that this kid would make an incredible quarterback in the NFL. Now, most of his critics will say that running quarterbacks don’t win in the NFL and I have to agree with them. But my counter to that, as far as Cam goes, is that he is so much more than just a running QB. Just because he did run, doesn’t mean that’s all that he can do. Wouldn’t you run, instead of pass if you were that big, fast, agile and made it look that easy? I know I would. But don’t count out his ability to be an above-average passer for whatever team is lucky enough to draft him. When it comes to NFL comparisons, people are immediately compare him to Tim Tebow and Vince Young, but that’s not fair because they only have the running statistics to argue for that. Tebow or Young aren’t able to throw the ball as far or as accurate or move like Newton can in the open field. My comparison would either be to Ben Roethlisberger – minus the inappropriate bathroom behavior – or Donovan McNabb (Watch this clip. The first play will immediately reminds you of Cam. The speed, agility, size and effort are so similar.) There are some problems with this draft suggestion/prayer. First of all, if the union and the owners can resolve their issues, the Cardinals might trade or sign a QB before the draft. If that’s the case and the Cardinals end up with Kevin Kolb, I can’t see them taking another QB. Ideally, what I’d want the Cards to do, is draft Newton and sign McNabb to mentor him and bridge the gap while he learns the offense and how to transform into more of a pocket passer.
Patrick Peterson: It’s not very often when you see a corner at his size. At 6’1, 220 pounds, he drawfs some NFL receivers. And to go along side former probowl corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who also is a freakish gifted athlete, the Cardinals might have the best corner duo in the league. And if Greg Toler can emerge as a more reliable corner, the Cardinals could even consider moving Peterson to strong safety when Adrian Wilson bows out. Plus, the Cards would be getting that punt returner they’ve desperately sought after since Steve Breaston’s rookie season. You can’t go wrong with this pick.
Von Miller: Much like Peterson, I never really got to watch Miller play but from what I hear, he has a motor that doesn’t stop. He reminds me of Clay Matthews. He is so quick and fast and can get around the tackle with ease and the Quarterback doesn’t have a chance. What I don’t like is his size, or lack there of. He needs to bulk up a lot to be able to handle the NFL grind. But he would worthy of a pick if both Peterson and Newton are gone.
Blaine Gabbert: I only put Gabbert on here because he is ranked higher than Newton on most experts mock boards but I still would take Cam if I had my pick of the litter. Gabbert is more of protypical QB. He reminds me of a Philip Rivers or Drew Brees. He is what he is. I don’t think he’ll ever be the best QB in the league but I also don’t think he can be a bust either. He’s the safe pick at QB.
Trade down: I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Cardinals traded down and drafted Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett and added a 2nd or 3rdround draft pick. If that’s the case, signing or trading for a veteran QB is a must. Kevin Kolb tops the list but Marc Bulger, Donovan McNabb and Carson Palmer would fill nicely as well.
I know Rod Graves, the Bidwell’s and all the Cards fans out there can only picture Matt Leinart when someone mentions that the Cardinals should draft a quarterback high in the first round but it’s time to try again. Teams need a franchise QB to be successful in the NFL nowadays. Whether it’s Brady in New England, Rogers in the Green Bay or Peyton in Indianapolis, having a great quarterback is an absolute must and “Lights, Cameron, Action” is that guy.
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Written by Zack Jones