Experts believe Baker Mayfield-loving Cardinals will be aggressive in draft

Apr 23, 2018, 7:55 AM | Updated: 8:52 pm
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is video taped during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturd...
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is video taped during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Like it or not, the Arizona Cardinals were aggressive in finding a new starting quarterback this offseason by signing Sam Bradford to a deal that could pay him up to $20 million for 2018.

They were aggressive in signing backup Mike Glennon as well.

With neither looking like a long-term option, it wouldn’t be hard to assume that Cardinals general manager Steve Keim would do everything possible to select a starting-caliber quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. The big if is whether or not Arizona likes a top-tier prospect enough to trade up from their No. 15 pick.

The answer from Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and ESPN’s Todd McShay is “yes.”

In a mock draft for his final MMQB column leading into the draft, which begins Thursday, King believes the Cardinals are set on being aggressive by trading up to draft with the Denver Broncos’ No. 5 overall pick.

That’s because, King says, they love Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Call this hunch the Won’t Get Fooled Again Pick. I’ve always thought a segment of the Cardinals had regrets over the 2017 draft when, with a 37-year-old quarterback (Carson Palmer) possibly in his last year, they were leap-frogged by teams that took Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson one and three picks ahead of them. Plus, the Cardinals don’t like Baker Mayfield. They love him. That’s a good thing, because John Elway likes him a lot too.

McShay also believes that Arizona has grown to love Mayfield.

They’ve been really quiet throughout this process, but it won’t surprise me a bit if they deal up for a QB. I know there’s some love for (Wyoming QB Josh Allen) and some love for Mayfield in that building.

Neither has evidence to suggest Arizona and Denver have discussed a trade for the No. 5 pick, but Elway, the Broncos general manager, said at a press conference last week he would be willing to trade the team’s first-round pick.

The problem there is that the GM’s public dangling of the pick could drive the price up. And if Elway likes Mayfield as much as King believes, he certainly would ask for the Cardinals’ No. 15 pick and a lot more to give it up.

Predicting where Mayfield goes in the draft is difficult.

Many mock drafts predict he could be a top-five pick, while some also believe he could fall all the way to Arizona’s current draft slot.

After beginning his college career at Texas Tech, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound quarterback played the last three years with the Sooners, improving his total yardage, number of touchdowns and average yards per pass attempt in each season. As a senior, he completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 4,627 yards, 43 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Draft evaluators might be apprehensive to label him a top-five selection due to his height and several in-game behavioral issues. He also was arrested in February 2017 on charges of public intoxication and fleeing.

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