ARIZONA CARDINALS

NFL.com: Clemson’s Williams, LSU’s Riley a ‘perfect pair’ for Cardinals

Apr 24, 2017, 1:00 PM

Williams Riley...

Clemson University wide receiver Mike Williams (left) and Louisiana State University linebacker Duke Riley (right). (AP)

(AP)

There are many different factors that go into drafting a player.

Talent and need are often the two most focused-upon considerations, but a player’s fit within an organization can be just as important.

In fact, a team will often pass up more talented prospects who don’t fit its organization’s scheme or culture.

NFL.com analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah attempted to find the best fit for all 32 teams by giving them their “perfect pair” of prospects.

The duo determined that Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams and Louisiana State linebacker Duke Riley would be ideal choices for the Arizona Cardinals with the 13th and 45th picks, respectively.

Williams would fill a looming need with Larry Fitzgerald entering his 14th season at age 33.

“I don’t know if you could find a better landing spot for him, in terms of the way they want to play and having a mentor in Larry Fitzgerald that plays the game very similarly,” Jeremiah said. “I think it would be outstanding for Williams. I think it’s the best place he could go in the entire draft.”

Williams led the ACC with 98 receptions last season for national champion Clemson. The redshirt junior added 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns a year after missing all but one game in 2015 with a fracture in his neck.

He also caught 57 passes for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore.

Brooks described the Clemson wideout as a “big-bodied playmaker” with “great hands” and “great ball-skills” who “does a great job playing with a physical style.”

The 6-foot-4, 218-pound Williams would be a nice complement to the Cardinals’ diminutive young receivers in John Brown (5-foot-11, 179 pounds) and J.J. Nelson (5-foot-10, 160 pounds).

The marriage is definitely a possibility, as four of the 64 mock drafts tracked by Arizona Sports since April 1 have the team taking Williams with the 13th pick. That’s tied for the fourth-most by any prospect.

With the team’s second-round pick, Brooks and Jeremiah think the Cardinals should replace recently departed former LSU Tiger Kevin Minter with a linebacker from Minter’s alma mater in Riley.

Riley was a regular starter for the first time last season and led LSU with 93 tackles, while adding nine tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and an interception.

Jeremiah’s favorite part of Riley’s game is the linebacker’s rare athletic traits.

“You talk about range, sideline-to-sideline,” he said. “He gives you that.”

The explosive linebacker showcased this athleticism at the NFL Combine, finishing second at his position with a 4.58 second 40-yard dash, fourth with a 4.21 second 20-yard shuttle and fifth with a 6.89 second three-cone drill.

Although Riley may not have a wealth of experience, Jeremiah pointed out that the Atlanta Falcons’ Deion Jones and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Kwon Alexander were also athletic one-year starters at linebacker for LSU who have gone on to establish themselves as quality starters early on in their NFL careers.

On top of that, Jeremiah actually appreciated the film of Riley on special teams prior to taking over as the starter.

“You go back and watch him on special teams the year before,” he said. “He was hell on wheels. He was fun to watch.”

Brooks agreed, saying that it speaks to his toughness, feistiness, competitiveness and physicality.

“All those traits lead me to believe he’s going to be a fantastic pro,” he said.

Presented By
Western Governors University

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals D.J. Humphries...

Vincent DeAngelis

Cardinals’ OT D.J. Humphries talks Marvin Harrison Jr., recovery from torn ACL

Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle D.J. Humphries expressed that he thinks Marvin Harrison Jr. is too easy to miss in the 2024 NFL Draft.

3 hours ago

Malik Nabers speaks with reporters at 2024 NFL Draft Combine...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals add Malik Nabers, not Marvin Harrison Jr., in Lance Zierlein’s latest mock draft

NFL.com's Lance Zierlein zigged instead of zagged on Monday, mock-drafting Malik Nabers, not Marvin Harrison Jr., to the Cardinals at No. 4.

4 hours ago

Jacob Cowing runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL Draft Combine...

Tyler Drake

Projecting where Arizona Cardinals could draft NFL Combine standouts

A look at some of the combine standouts who could fill a Cardinals' need and how they could realistically find their way to Arizona:

7 hours ago

Notre Dame offensive lineman Joe Alt runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, Mar...

Tom Kuebel

Cardinals could trade up to pick OL prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft

After an impressive showing by the offensive lineman at the 2024 NFL Draft Combine, the Cardinals might have to trade up from pick No. 27 to get a top prospect.

1 day ago

Rome Odunze...

Alex Weiner

How did Rome Odunze measure at NFL Draft Combine after meeting with Cardinals?

Before taking the field to run the 40-yard dash, Rome Odunze met with several teams sitting atop the draft, including the Cardinals.

2 days ago

Olumuyiwa Fashanu...

Jesse Morrison

NFL Draft OL prospect Olu Fashanu had ‘smooth meeting’ with Cardinals, Jonathan Gannon

One of the top prospects in the NFL draft, offensive tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu seemed interested in the Cardinals at the NFL combine.

2 days ago

NFL.com: Clemson’s Williams, LSU’s Riley a ‘perfect pair’ for Cardinals