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Middle-round draft hopes for the Arizona Cardinals

Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman (4) throws under pressure from Northwestern linebacker Joseph Jones (42) during the first quarter of the Pinstripe Bowl NCAA college football game, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Now what?!

Starting at four o’clock, rounds two and three begin in the 2017 NFL Draft. Unless you’re the Bears, the first round really isn’t that hard. GMs make their money today.

Rounds four through seven are hard, but there’s also a little luck involved, especially rounds six and seven. Not much separates the 185th best player on the board and the 234th pick. Today, though, is biggest day. All the moves you made last year and yesterday set-up your number of picks today. Look through NFL rosters. Not nearly as many first-round picks make it as you might think. Today is where each GM stresses about skill versus need, position rankings and whether or not they should make trades.

We all know the Cardinals’ needs (CB, S, G, QB). Now, the question is, who will be there at No. 45 (second round) and No. 77 (third round)?

My second round hopes:

• Forrest Lamp
• Obi Melifonwu
• Kevin King
• Cam Robinson

Lamp at No. 45 would be a dream scenario for Arizona, but I don’t see it happening. Both Green Bay and Seattle start today’s proceedings with picks No. 33 and No. 34. I see Lamp and Cam Robinson going 1-2. Seattle might ignore the character concerns and take RBs Joe Mixon or Dalvin Cook. Any team that goes RB is great for the Cardinals, because that pushes a need player back down to Arizona.

Assuming Lamp is gone, pay attention to the Florida and Washington safeties and CBs. King and Budda Baker are Huskies at corner and safety. Quincy Wilson and Marcus Maye are Gators at the same positions. I love both Huskies. I don’t mind the two Gators but I’d rather trade down for one of them.

If we can pull off a jedi mind trick, Obi Melifonwu will still be there at No. 45. He would be a perfect safety for the Cardinals. I’d like him to convert more of the passes defensed into interceptions, but he’s always around the ball. Give him a year in the Cards’ system and I think the stress of great pass-catching TEs will end for James Bettcher. Marcus Williams from Utah isn’t terrible. He’ll help as a center fielder and won’t be a disaster if he has to play corner if the Cards get spread out but he’s not overly physical.

My third round hopes:

• Nathan Peterman

In the third round, I’m all in for Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman. Never would I start him week one, but he can handle everything if given the chance to learn from Carson Palmer. No one out-works Palmer from Monday to Saturday. There are certainly better quarterbacks in the NFL than Carson but they don’t work harder than he does. Peterman would soak up exactly what it takes to be a professional. This is the most under-rated player in the entire draft. I have no other hopes than Peterman. I don’t want to reach into another round, but I’m not leaving the third round without him.

Wild cards:

• Sidney Jones
• Tarell Basham
• Cooper Kupp
• Teez Tabor

There’s also a couple of wild cards that are hard to place a value on because their negatives might lower their value for some teams but be ignored by other teams. Tarell Basham is fantastic. The catch is that he’d be a luxury pick for Arizona. An undersized but explosive edge-rusher, he will succeed in the NFL.

Sidney Jones is one of the top 15 most talented players in the draft. The problem is he tore his Achilles at his pro-day. If healthy, he completely solves the CB issue opposite Patrick Peterson. Of course, “if healthy,” he wouldn’t be listed as my favorite wild card for a Day 2 or Day 3 pick because he’d be gone. I’d like to wait until the fourth round to pull the trigger here, but I’d regret it when he wasn’t there.

Want a receiver to someday replace Fitzgerald? Corey Davis and Mike Williams are gone, so you’re not going to find one. I do think WR is a need and Cooper Kupp tore it up at the Senior Bowl. If most of my guys are gone at No. 77, I’d take a flyer on an Eastern Washington Eagle.

Last wildcard I’m watching is Teez Tabor. If it’s only about the film, he’s one of the best corners in the whole draft. He immediately fills a need and — again, on film — looks like he’d start day one. His problem is he’s painfully slow. Strangely, you never see it on film. His ability to study, read and react are so strong, his lack of speed wasn’t exposed at Florida. I would assume it will be in the NFL.

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