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Patrick Mahomes II linked to Arizona Cardinals in late sweep of mock drafts

FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2015, file photo, Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes (5) throws a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Zach Austin under pressure from Baylor defensive end Jamal Palmer (92) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, in Arlington, Texas. Texas Tech opens its season against Stephen F. Austin, an instate FCS opponent that's 0-9 against Big 12 opponents. The Red Raiders are looking to junior quarterback Mahomes to improve the team's standing in the Big 12 this season. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

After months of speculation, it’s finally here.

The 2017 NFL Draft gets underway Thursday night in Philadelphia with the Cleveland Browns on the clock for the No. 1 overall pick.

About 90 minutes after the Browns (or whomever they trade the pick to) make their selection, the Arizona Cardinals will make the 13th pick.

Since January 1, ArizonaSports.com has tracked over 260 mock drafts with most attention focused on what the Cardinals will do with that pick.

As expected, a flood of new mocks hit the web Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and while there’s no consensus on what Arizona will do, there’s one name that shows up more than the others:

Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II.

The Red Raiders gunslinger is one of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s class, and with the Cardinals seeking a long-term solution at the position for the post-Carson Palmer era, Mahomes could make sense.

Among the experts to mock Mahomes to Arizona leading up to the draft are Pete Prisco and Will Brinson of CBS Sports, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, Vinny Iyer of Sporting News and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network.

Prisco: “Call this a hunch. They need to get the replacement for Carson Palmer at some point, and this is a gunslinger who can spend a year learning and waiting.”

Brinson: “Here’s a big-armed prospect who has a ton of upside and will get a year to learn in this system thanks to Carson Palmer’s presence. The Cardinals would love a win-now option, but Mahomes makes a ton of sense.”

Miller: “Here’s a pick I’ve been hearing about from other general managers and scouts for weeks. Everyone thinks Patrick Mahomes will end up with the Arizona Cardinals. That might mean a team is able to hop in front of them to draft him if it were so inclined, but everyone I’ve asked about this pick believes it will be Mahomes.

Head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim know they have to get a quarterback of the future here after Carson Palmer thought about retirement this offseason. Mahomes is a perfect fit from a tools perspective given his arm strength and his athleticism. He needs time to work on his passing mechanics and his footwork, but he’ll have an entire season behind Palmer to do just that.”

Iyer: “The Cards are honing in Mahomes to groom as Bruce Arians’ replacement for Carson Palmer. He’s close to a stone-cold lock now.”

Jeremiah: “This would be a surprising pick, but I’m told the Cardinals love the upside of Mahomes.”

Maybe more interestingly, both Mike Mayock and Charley Casserly of NFL Network see the Cardinals getting Mahomes, but trading up into the first round (32nd overall) to grab their quarterback of the future.

Mayock: “I told you I wanted to get Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer together with Patrick Mahomes. We do that here. They move up from No. 45 to No. 32 and it only cost them a third-round pick. They get their QB of the future.”

Casserly: “Arizona gets Carson Palmer’s eventual replacement.”

Not all the major draft experts are projecting this, however. Below is a list of what others are envisioning for the Cardinals at No. 13.

Todd McShay, ESPN: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State – “Hooker had three different surgeries this offseason, which could cause him to fall further than expected. This would be a blessing for the Cardinals, who lost safeties Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger in free agency. Hooker is the best ball-hawking safety in this draft class.”

Mel Kiper, ESPN: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson – “This is great value at No. 13, getting the draft’s top receiver. Williams could be a younger version of Larry Fitzgerald, who turns 34 this year. Arizona will hope Williams becomes what it thought former first-round pick Michael Floyd was going to be.”

Jason LaCanfora, CBS Sports: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson – “Once Trubisky goes this high, the run on QBs will be on. Maybe Arizona moves up to make this happen, because Carson Palmer is at the end and the time to develop the quarterback of 2018 is right now. Could be Mahomes here as well.”

You can hear all-day coverage of the 2017 NFL Draft on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station and ESPN 620 AM.

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