The state of Arizona is brimming with young football talent, and that’s never been more apparent than now as we head toward the 2014 NFL Draft.
When you look at the players who will be leaving in-state universities, there is a real possibility that all three Arizona schools with football programs have a rookie on an NFL roster come September, thanks to Zach Bauman of Northern Arizona.
When you factor in the talent that was cultivated in Arizona high schools, there’s just no denying that the state is teeming NFL talent throughout.
There’s so much talent, in fact, that you could do a six-round Cardinals mock draft and make it work with just players who have ties to the Valley from high school and college.
Presenting the “All Arizona” Arizona Cardinals mock draft.
Round 1- Taylor Lewan, OT Michigan
The Chaparral High School product was one of the big winners at the combine.
He has the size, athleticism and nasty disposition that NFL teams want from their offensive linemen.
While there are concerns about Lewan’s footwork in pass pro and his tendency to get too tall off the snap, he has been a stalwart for years at a top-level school facing top-level competition.
Round 2- Trent Murphy, OLB Stanford
While Muprhy isn’t as flashy as the other outside linebackers that the state will produce this year (hello Carl Bradford), the Brophy Prep standout is the most complete outside linebacker the Cardinals could ask for.
He plays well against the run, has a bevy of pass rushing moves and consistently produced against top-level competition.
Murphy’s 15 sacks may be a bit misleading because he got a lot of them from his relentless pursuit, but he does show enough explosiveness to warrant day two consideration.
Round 3- Will Sutton, DE Arizona State
The fall of Will Sutton may be a blessing in disguise for both the Cardinals and the former Sun Devil.
Sutton was most successful at ASU when he was able to one gap and played “smaller,” and if he was to get picked up by the Cardinals, he would likely get to learn behind Darnell Dockett on how to attack in Todd Bowles’ defense.
Sutton has a relentless motor and wins his gap often, but if he’s asked to do too much, he won’t ever live up to his skills.
Round 4- Ka’Deem Carey, RB Arizona
For many, Carey was the top back heading into the Combine, and maybe after his Pro Day he will be again. But for now, his pedestrian speed and agility — along with smallish size — make him a prime candidate to fall come draft time.
That’s fine for a team like Arizona, who could be looking for a little more between-the-tackle options to pair with the electric Andre Ellington.
Carey was at his best running inside, so in Bruce Arians’ power scheme and with Jonathan Cooper back leading the way pulling, and running behind potentially a new left tackle and right tackle, he could end up being a steal.
Round 5- Alden Darby, S Arizona State
While Darby may lack the length the Cardinals are looking for, to get a player who has experience playing center field, press man coverage and in the box, and did it successfully, in the fifth-round of the draft is a win.
Darby plays with an all-out aggression that causes him to be wild at times, but he has a knack for finding the ball and making plays, and is the type of player that will work his tail off in whatever capacity he is asked too.
Round 6- Chris Coyle, TE Arizona State
Another Sun Devil shows just how deep and talented this year’s team was, but Coyle has a niche to fill for the Cardinals.
Many times in 2013 we saw the Cardinals flexing a TE into the backfield to act as a “fullback.” Well, Coyle looks like, and plays like, the ideal H-Back for Bruce Arians’ offense.
A tenacious and relentless worker as a blocker, what Coyle lacks in size he makes up for in grit, and is excellent at finding moving targets, and shielding and blocking them.
Coyle’s main NFL success will come from his excellent hands and innate ability to get open consistently.
He would be an excellent short yardage security blanket for Carson Palmer and offer Arians an element in his offense he lacked last year.
While a draft like this would never happen, it is interesting to note just how much local talent is being produced right now, and how far the state has come — even from last year.