Not to say that Steve Keim isn’t doing a tremendous job as the Arizona Cardinals’ general manager, but what if somebody else took over that role heading into the 2014 NFL Draft?
Somebody like ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr.
In his latest ESPN Insider piece, Kiper takes over the draft reins for all 32 NFL franchises, including the Cardinals.
After diagnosing Arizona’s needs as safety, outside linebacker, wide receiver and tight end, Kiper went to work, choosing UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr in the first round (20th) overall, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron in the second (52nd) and Wyoming receiver Robert Herron in the third (84th).
Analysis: Left tackle was addressed in free agency, so the focus turns to the pass rush, and at this spot on the draft board I think Barr’s upside is hard to pass on, even if his senior tape was underwhelming. At one time I thought he’d be a top-10 pick, but if Barr is more consistent and improves on his awareness (he converted from running back) he could become a steal at this slot. It’s a close mix between need and “best player available” at this point. McCarron might seem like a bit of a luxury pick in Round 2, but tell me what the long-term solution is at QB in Arizona. The drop-off from Carson Palmer on the depth chart is scary-looking, Palmer isn’t young, and the roster is good enough to take a shot on a developmental backup a little early. Herron can be electrifying after the catch, and there’s a need for an added target at receiver after Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.
Barr had 23.5 sacks in his two seasons as a linebacker for the Bruins and was a two-time First Team All-Pac-12 selection and consensus All-American in 2013.
McCarron finished his career in Tuscaloosa as one of the most decorated quarterbacks in college football history. The Mobile, Ala. native went 36-4 in three years as a starter and guided the Crimson Tide to two BCS national championships.
Herron caught 152 passes for 2,030 yards and 20 touchdowns in his Wyoming career. In 2012, he was fourth in the nation when he averaged 21.2 yards per catch. Three of his eight touchdown catches were 70 yards or longer.