With quarterback Carson Palmer and head coach Bruce Arians now retired, the next era of Arizona Cardinals football has commenced under the direction of newly hired head coach Steve Wilks. A defense-minded head coach, Wilks has Chandler Jones, Budda Baker, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Hasson Reddick as the building blocks of his defense.
The same cannot be said for the offense, where Wilks will turn to Mike McCoy as his offensive coordinator to develop a scheme that currently has massive holes on the offensive line and wide receiver with huge questions at quarterback.
It’s an important offseason for Wilks and general manager Steve Keimm to start rebuilding the roster. Using the FanSpeak On The Clock Mock Draft Simulator, here is one realistic scenario that would make sense for the Cardinals.
Round 1, pick 15: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
With Palmer retired and no previous effort to secure his successor, the Cardinals have a glaring hole at the most important position in the game. Jackson is as dynamic a passer as anyone who has ever entered the league, with rare ability to make plays with his feet. He pairs his skills as a runner with a live arm that is capable of hitting any throw required in the NFL. With that said, he does have mechanical flaws that lead to inconsistent ball placement.
While there is a learning curve ahead for Jackson, he can lead a tough-to-defend NFL offense if he is allowed to be himself. Jackson would give the offense a new identity and Arizona a chance to become relevant in the NFC. The Cardinals have to make strides to catch up with Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco in its own division — that starts with getting the quarterback position right.
Round 2, pick 47: Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State
Cardinal quarterbacks were sacked 52 times last season, the most of any team in the NFC. Jones is a polished pass blocker who excels at framing passing rushers, squaring up and keeping the blindside of the quarterback clean. Jones also offers the ability to drive block and move his feet and hips around as a reach blocker, giving him upside to execute in any run scheme. He can be Arizona’s franchise left tackle.
Round 3, pick 79: Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford
Arizona lacks a true complement to Patrick Peterson. Meeks is arguably the most intelligent corner in the class. He pairs his awareness with length and physicality to make him an asset in press and zone coverage. In a secondary loaded with versatile defenders, Meeks fits right in and enables Wilks to be multiple in his coverage packages.
Round 3, pick 97: Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State
Wilson has the play speed, route running nuance, hands and ability after the catch to win at all levels of the field from either the slot or outside. In two seasons at Boise State, Wilson tallied 139 receptions for 2,640 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging nearly 19 yards per catch. After playing quarterback in high school and only two FBS seasons at wide receiver, Wilson has room to grow.
Round 4, pick 135: Wyatt Teller, G, Virginia Tech
A 43-game starter in the ACC, Teller enters the NFL with plug-and-play upside for an offensive line in desperate need of immediate help.
Virginia Tech prioritized utilizing Teller as a frontside blocker to open running lanes, pulling him from the backside to make him a playside lead blocker and moving the pocket to provide additional blockers to the side of the rollout. How the Hokies “ran the offense through him” speaks volumes about his ability.
Teller offers power and mobility along with his ideal stature.
Round 5, pick 154: Justin Jones, DT, N.C. State
Jones is a powerful defensive tackle who knows how to use his hands to beat blocks. Coming from a talented N.C. State defensive line, Jones is often overlooked in favor of fellow Wolfpack prospects Bradley Chubb and B.J. Hill, but Jones is a talented player in his own right.
Jones offers the versatility to play either defensive tackle in Wilks’ 4-3 alignment and can immediately become part of Arizona’s thin rotation.
Round 7, pick 254: Ethan Wolf, TE, Tennessee
Wolf doesn’t wow in any one area but has a functional skill set of an NFL tight end. He is a capable in-line blocker who can also win in space. He was under-utilized at Tennessee as a receiver but thrived when given opportunities to make plays on the ball. He may only project as a viable reserve, but Arizona’s current tight end situation leaves much to be desired.