Arizona Cardinals Mock Draft: Instant Contributors Cards Can Find in Every Round
Mock drafts are fun to play around with, and this Arizona Cardinals mock includes a trade that very well could happen on May 8. The 2014 draft class is a deep one, and the Cardinals are in a position to get better with every pick.
They are without a seventh-round pick, but that could change, depending on how general manager Steve Keim works the draft.
Five of the seven players in this mock are intended to beef up an already beefy defense. The Seahawks showed why it is important to have a great defense, as they dismantled the most prolific offense in NFL history en route to crushing the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. That model has been successful since the early days of the NFL, and that will continue to be the case down the road.
Here are instant contributors the Cardinals can find with every pick.
Round 1 (Pick 28): Kyle Fuller, Cornerback
Trade: The Cardinals swap first-round picks with the Panthers in exchange for Carolina’s third-round pick (No. 92 overall). A wide receiver-needy team could trade up ahead of the Browns, who own pick 26 of the first round. It is expected that Cleveland takes a quarterback with the fourth-overall pick, and they could go receiver with their second first-rounder.
Cornerback Kyle Fuller is a lot like Tyrann Mathieu with a slightly larger frame. He is very instinctive and shows an ability to follow speedy receivers down the field as well as take away underneath routes with his physicality and strength.
The cornerback position would suddenly be a deep well of talent after the Antonio Cromartie signing and adding Fuller to the mix. He can play nickel and/or dime cornerback early alongside Jerraud Powers, which would allow Mathieu to start and stay at free safety.
Fuller could step into the starting role in 2015 should Cromartie jet once his one-year deal is up.
Round 2 (Pick 52): Cameron Fleming, Right Tackle
With right tackle seemingly in limbo as of now, taking one early on Day 2 could happen. Former Stanford right tackle Cameron Fleming is a good one, starting 39 games in three seasons at Palo Alto as part of one of the best offensive lines in the college game.
If Bobby Massie is not the answer yet, he may never be. It’s still possible he is, and it’s also possible the team re-signs Eric Winston. Winston, who is the new president of the NFL Players Association, says he still has “miles left on the tires,” and he wants to “burn them off,” according to Dan Bickley of AZCentral.com.
Arizona may be waiting for Daryn Colledge’s $5 million cap hit to come off the books on June 1 before they do any more signing. But by that time, the draft will have happened, and it may have its right tackle of the future.
Fleming is powerful and nimble-footed, getting to the second level with ease and pushing away defenders with equal prosperity. Even if he is drafted by Arizona in the second round and does not start, he could serve as the sixth lineman in heavy sets early—a role filled by Massie in 2013.
Pick 84: Ahmad Dixon, Safety
Dixon is a hard-hitting strong safety with good coverage skills he uses to lock down tight ends, particularly down the seam. He is a great athlete, and he could have a bright future in the NFL.
One area he must work on is tackling. He has a tendency to arm tackle, and also to hit high on defenseless receivers. Both can be worked on and fixed with proper tackling technique, but it could get him in trouble early.
He would not start at strong safety from Day 1, but he could be used in sub-packages in the slot to cover athletic tight ends against teams that force Cromartie to stick to their No. 2 receiver (the Lions, Falcons and Broncos come to mind).
Dixon also would contribute early on special teams. It’s where many solid NFL players get their start, and he would do well for himself to cover kicks and punts while learning how to play safety in the NFL—he was a hybrid safety and linebacker at Baylor and needs to dedicate himself as a safety to develop into who he has the potential to become.
Pick 92 (from Panthers): Jackson Jeffcoat, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker
The younger Jeffcoat has a bright future ahead of him as long as he can remain healthy. He withstood three major injuries in his first three seasons at the University of Texas before successfully completing his senior year with 82 total tackles, 19.0 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks.
His Production Ratio of 1.99 over four seasons in Austin, Texas, is very good. In fact, among members of the front seven who've earned NFL Scouting Combine invites, Jeffcoat’s career Production Ratio ranked 11th.—ahead of Jadeveon Clowney, Anthony Barr and Dee Ford, to name a few.
Jeffcoat wouldn’t start as a rookie, but he’s a better natural pass-rusher than Sam Acho is. He would provide pass rush on a part-time basis while contributing on special teams and learning how to be a complete outside linebacker. Acho excels in coverage, so Jeffcoat would not need to drop into coverage much early.
Round 4 (Pick 120): Jordan Zumwalt, Linebacker
Jordan Zumwalt was overshadowed by Barr at UCLA, but he’s a solid player in his own right. Hard-hitting, smart and confident, Zumwalt projects better at inside linebacker on Sundays, and that’s the thought with this pick—that he would develop behind Daryl Washington and Kevin Minter while contributing on special teams.
He’s quicker than fast—perfect for inside linebacker. He posted a 1.59-second 10-yard split at the combine, which is faster than average for the position.
It could be a stretch to think he will ever develop into a strong-side linebacker, but if he gets stronger and learns to disengage blockers better—especially in the run game—he could surprise us.
Round 5 (Pick 160): Colt Lyerla, Tight End
The talent of a Hall of Famer and the character issues to earn him jail time. Does that sound familiar? Sounds an awful lot like Aaron Hernandez, doesn’t it?
Off-the-field issues aside, Colt Lyerla has the potential to be one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He can afford to get stronger to help make him a better run-blocker, but that’s not really his game. He’s an athletic, downfield-type tight end with game-breaking ability.
Although he did not compete in all of the events at the combine, Lyerla showed he is an explosive player who can be an immediate threat as a rookie—as long as he keeps his nose clean, that is.
Round 6 (Pick 196): DeRon Furr, Safety
Consider this a bit of insurance in case the Dixon pick doesn’t work out. Former Auburn and Memphis Tigers safety/linebacker DeRon Furr transferred twice before finding a home at Fort Valley State with his younger brother, LeRon.
DeRon is another hard-hitting defensive player (see a trend here?), a true strong safety with a “rip-your-head-off” mentality. He flies around the field at 100 miles per hour at all times, looking for someone to hit. It appears as though he has embraced the small school at which he played and thought of himself as the baddest player on the field—that’s how it looked on tape, anyway.
And that’s a good thing. A confident player, the 6’2”, 215-pound safety was a bully to the smaller, weaker players who never played Division I college football.
He played a lot on special teams in college, so he would fit well into that role early. But if the former 4-star recruit who had a full-ride scholarship to Auburn has his say, he would end up as the starting strong safety for the Cardinals in time.