Draft month is almost here. The bad news is the NFL Draft is still 29 days away. The good news is there appears to be a real chance quarterbacks go 1-15 before the Cardinals time on the clock.
Every week leading up to the draft, I will update my Big Board for the Cardinals selection at 16. Could the Cardinals trade up? Yes but that seems extremely unlikely given their lack of draft capital. Could the Cardinals trade down? Yes and that seems very likely given their lack of draft capital. But for the sake of this exercise we are going to assume until otherwise told that the Arizona Cardinals will be making their first selection in the 2021 NFL Draft at number 16 overall.
One final note before we get to the Board, this is a list compromised of names that are a combination of fit and probability of being available. Meaning, as cool as it would be for Penei Sewell or Patrick Surtain II to end up in the Cardinals terrible uniforms, they really don't have a chance.
Without further ado, here it is:
Arizona Cardinals Big Board: #16 overall v 1.0.
5. Jayson Oweh, OLB, Penn State
- The Cardinals spent big on the defensive front this offseason, signing JJ Watt and re-signing Markus Golden. Plus, they have to this point, retained Devon Kennard and plan on bringing back Dennis Gardeck. However, just like the offensive line, this is not a position group you can ever get too complacent. This is the final year of Chandler Jones deal, Watt has missed more than 30 games in his last five seasons and Devon Kennard is barely a lock for the 2021 roster let alone the 2022 roster. Oweh would be some much needed insurance for this team's pass rush. At 6'5, 260 running a sub 4.4 40 his size, speed and athleticism drip star but his technique and fundamentals do not. What better way to squeeze every ounce of value out of your veteran pass rushing stars like Jones and Watt than having them help catch Oweh up to speed on pass rushing basics and letting the Cardinals reap the benefits for years to come.
4. Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
- Newsome is the winner of "next CB listed on Daniel Jeremiah's Top 50" after the top 3. He's not the son of a former NFL'er. He didn't star for a notable football powerhouse and if he was standing in a lineup of other NFL draft prospects you and I would have almost no chance of picking him out. But the Cardinals needs a cornerback and my scouting via reading other people's scouting reports tells me that Newsome has ideal size and fundamentals to stick at cornerback for a very long time. This wouldn't be the most exciting pick, I'm bored writing this blurb, but it would serve an important purpose for the Cardinals.
3. Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
- Horn likely worked his way out of the Cardinals plans during his Pro Day last week. The son of former Saints standout WR Joe Horn, Jaycee is big, strong and fast which is kind of ideal for any era CB but specifically the current era of football. In fact, he's the kind of athlete you would normally see at WR but apparently out of all the physical gifts Joe passed on to his son, great hands wasn't one of them. He checks every other box for the Cardinals and would be the first corner drafted in the first round by the team since Patrick Peterson in 2011, the man he would be selected to replace sooner rather than later.
2. Alijah Vera Tucker, OL, USC
- Yes, the Cardinals addition of Rodney Hudson was an answer to all of our Build The Lines prayers but the work is not done yet. Kelvin Beachum is on a one year deal, Justin Pugh is in the final year of his deal, Brian Winters is on a one year deal, Justin Murray is a career backup and Josh Jones has already gone from third round steal at tackle to competing for a job at RG. The Cardinals have no long term pieces on their line other than DJ Humphries until that is, they draft Vera Tucker. Having thrived at both tackle and guard, Tucker gives the Cardinals a shot at finding a long term piece somewhere along their offensive line, a rare planning ahead moment for a Cardinals team that annually finds itself in panic mode on the OLine.
1. Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
- Steve Keim's reward for upgrading the lines, adding some corner help and generally enjoying a strong offseason is he gets to be the guy that stops Smith's fall. As a skinny guy, I'm offended anytime anyone is written off because they don't look like they've been IV'ing creatine since being born. At 170 pounds, Smith may fall because he doesn't look the part. Give me Devonta Smith over David Boston any day. Devonta Smith is really, really good. The Cardinals could've signed AJ Green, Larry Fitzgerald, Jerry Rice, Torry Holt and Randy Moss this offseason and it would still be the right decision to take Devonta. Smith is a chance for some Andy Isabella redemption and for the first time it will be Steve Keim laughing at other GM's for their WR decision, instead of the other way around.
Notable names not on my list:
Micah Parsons: If Parsons falls to 16, he's falling for a very good reason.
Caleb Farley: The lack of a Combine this year prevented teams from getting their hands on new medical for Farley. After undergoing a second back surgery in the last 24 months, Farley is likely a medical red flag in the first round.
Any RB: An incredible waste of a draft pick, even if you get it 100% right.