What a fantastic start of the NFL year for the Arizona Cardinals and just think, they still have the NFL Draft to fill the rest of the holes on the roster.
The Cardinals need a little help in round one to do that though, they need someone to fall to them in order to address their needs.
Could that happen for the Cardinals? Probably not, but what would it look like if the Cardinals could get their hands on a top-tier safety prospect, one of the biggest areas still needing to be impacted this offseason?
Let’s take a look.
Round 1 – Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The rangy Alabama safety could very likely be off the board when the Cardinals come to the podium with the 20th selection, but in reality he’s — at least in this evaluator’s opinion — what the Cardinals defense is missing on the back end.
Clinton-Dix has the range to play the free safety position, with the height and length to match up with NFL tight ends, but also shows willingness and the physical play to do work in the box.
He does a nice job in coverage and has experience playing in both zone and man schemes while at Alabama.
Clinton-Dix can play too downhill at times, and too often is looking for the big shot rather than wrapping up and making the play in front of him.
He also can get fooled with play action and double moves at times because of his aggressive nature.
Round 2 – Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
There’s a pretty good split on Niklas at this point between most draft analysts, but here’s the reality:
• He can block well, and has the size and tenacity to do so.
• He has good, improving hands.
• He’s new to the position so he has room to grow.
While he can look lost at times, he has the athleticism, size and a nasty, physical demeanor that is lacking from the tight end core at this time.
While the Cardinals need tight end help, with Jake Ballard, Rob Housler and newly-signed John Carlson on the roster, he’ll have some time to learn and the coaching staff will be able to pick their spots with him.
Round 3 – Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
The Cardinals want to get younger, longer and faster at the defensive end spot according to Steve Keim, and Martin is the same type of physical freak that Calais Campbell was coming out of Miami.
Martin has the same size, speed, length ratio as Campbell did coming out of Miami, but he plays with a similar lost-at-times look in his eyes.
Get him behind Campbell, working with veterans like Darnell Dockett and John Abraham on the finer points of playing defensive end in the NFL, and you may have another star on your hands.
Round 4 – Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State
When you look at the draft history of the Arizona Cardinals over the last several years, the improvement on the offensive line will not just come from the addition of Jared Veldheer, but using multiple draft picks on the offensive line to build depth and youth.
Turner is a well-built, athletic specimen that has all the tools of being a solid NFL pro, but he has work to do.
He has technique issues, and plays like a wild man at times, just looking for people to hit. But he is a tenacious, non-stop worker who shows the upside to man the guard or right tackle position in the NFL.
Round 5 – Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State
There’s something about Crowell that is enthralling to watch when he runs the football.
Pound-for-pound he’s probably the best running back in the 2014 NFL Draft, but his off-the-field problems have prevented him from showing it on the big stage of the SEC for more than one year.
His one year at Georgia was very good by freshman standards. Crowell ran for 850 yards and five touchdowns.
He combines a rare combination of size, speed and power and runs with excellent vision to boot, not to mention a nasty, powerful burst to and through the hole.
If you are looking to pair a running back with Andre Ellington for the foreseeable future, and are not risk averted, take the chance on Crowell. If it works out, we’ll be watching a great runner.
Round 6 – Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB, Boston College
Pierre-Louis has taken the scouting world by storm with his off-the-chart measurables and his tape shows a guy that has the ability to make it in the NFL.
He has vast experience on special teams and shows the upside of being a nickel linebacker in the NFL because of his smooth hips and good feet in coverage.
When the Cardinals select on draft day, they’ll do so with multiple options, but addressing the safety position in the first round would be huge boost.