We’re a month away from the draft and things are starting to come more and more into view with what the Cardinals’ needs are for draft night 2013.
But while the needs for the Cardinals may be coming into focus, there was a specific draft I have wanted to see the Cardinals come away with in rounds one and two.
Rounds 3-6 have changed, as the Cardinals have added and lost players in free agency, but the idea remains the same.
So for all those that have asked “What would you do if you were the Arizona Cardinals?” Here’s my answer.
Note: I am taking players based off of where I see them being available, so this will be as realistic as possible.
Round 1: Chance Warmack, OG Alabama
Cardinals add a player like Warmack to what has been a terrible run blocking team, and a team that gives up constant pressure in the passing game from the middle of the offensive line.
Warmack adds a physical interior presence and should help the left tackle in pass pro if it’s Levi Brown, or in the run game if it’s Nate Potter.
Round 2: Larry Warford, OG Kentucky
Back to back picks on perhaps the position with the least intrinsic value on offense or defense?
I know, it’s crazy, but the idea is that the Cardinals could add two players who would immediately make the running game a strength. Just look at what Brown and Massie provide as run blockers, and this should sure up the interior of the offensive line on passing downs.
What interests me the most on these first two picks is they both played against elite competition, and they both won their one-on-one battles.
They would give the Cardinals and Arians an exceptionally strong starting offensive line in the run game, which would open up the passing game for Drew Stanton, or whoever is the quarterback for the Cardinals next year.
Round 3: D.J. Swearinger, FS South Carolina
One of the things I have changed my mind on over and over is where the Cardinals would address their secondary needs.
Well, in free agency they did a great job of finding quality, young cornerbacks for cheap, but the combination of Rashad Johnson and Yeremiah Bell as the only safety options doesn’t appeal to me.
Enter Swearinger, the heat-seeking missile of a free safety prospect.
Adding Swearinger as a free safety gives the Cardinals some versatility in their secondary, as he is excellent in coverage and run support and can even move down into a slot position in man coverage if needed.
Round 4: Michael Buchanan, OLB Illinois
Buchanan was well on his way to becoming a day two pick before breaking his jaw and losing a lot of weight in the 2012 off season.
This led to a down senior year for Buchanan, and his stock staying steady as a day three prospect because of his upside as a pass rusher.
If Buchanan can continue to put on the weight while maintaining his quick lateral movement and first step burst, he could become a nice option as a situational pass rusher.
The reason I think Buchanan could become and every down force though is because he already looks comfortable dropping into short-area coverage, and that is one of the hardest aspects in making the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker.
Round 5: Nick Kasa, TE Colorado
I’ve talked about the possibility of adding a tight end early because of the importance they play in Arians’ offense, but with no movement on the Jeff King front, I think adding a player that will need a little work in round five, but possesses starter upside, is the perfect fit.
Kasa would be able to come in and immediately get playing time as a blocking tight end in the running game, and even present a seam threat in the vertical passing game.
Round 6: Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR Texas A&M
I know, another WR, that’s crazy.
The problem is we still don’t know if Josh Cribbs is going to sign in Arizona, and until he does the Cardinals are surprisingly thin at the position.
Uzoma is the deep threat from the slot or outside position that Arians loves to develop; see Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, T.Y. Hilton, etc., and is a viable option in the kick return game.
Having a deep threat in the Arians offense is important, and Nwachukwu would be that option, and if he develops to more, well that’s just one less free agent the Cardinals have to re-sign in 2014 in Andre Roberts.
Round 6: Michael Mauti, LB Penn St
I have been pretty adamant that the Cardinals need to avoid injury or off-field risk players, even if I see high upside like Marcus Lattimore, Quanterus Smith (my personal favorite pass rusher in the draft) or Ray Ray Armstrong, but Mauti is different.
Mauti has shown the ability to be a big-time inside linebacker, contribute on special teams and be a defensive leader, even when not on the field.
I am not saying the others do not possess that last trait, but Mauti’s coach on the sideline-type attitude would be such an asset, even if he doesn’t step foot on the field for the Cardinals.
He’s a player that is worth the risk, because the reward would be huge.
While I know the likelihood of any of these picks happening is slim, this is how I would attack the Cardinals’ 2013 draft if I was in charge, though it’s probably a good thing I am not.