Kiper gives Cardinals offensive boost in 3-round deep NFL mock draft

Apr 10, 2019, 8:09 AM
Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley catches a football during Georgia Pro Day, Wednesday, March 20, ...
Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley catches a football during Georgia Pro Day, Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)
(AP Photo/John Amis)

Spoilers: Mel Kiper Jr.’s annual “Grade: A” three-round NFL mock draft begins with the Arizona Cardinals selecting Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray first overall.

Kiper’s attempt at making the best picks for each team — based on his own scouting reports and acting in each team’s best interests — also leads Arizona down an offensively-focused road.

He believes Murray’s Oklahoma teammate, offensive tackle Cody Ford, should be drafted by the Cardinals 33rd overall. Then, Kiper selects Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley at 65th with Arizona’s third-round choice.

Kiper, like most mock-makers, really does believe the Cardinals will take Murray, who fits head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. This, despite Kiper ranking Murray behind Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins on his personal big board.

Murray and Haskins are close enough, however, where fit leapfrogs Murray to land with Arizona.

Fit is also the reason why the Cardinals should select Murray after taking quarterback Josh Rosen 10th in last year’s draft, Kiper says.

One reason why it was extremely tough to evaluate Rosen’s rookie year was the poor offensive line play, so let’s get Murray some help in his former teammate Ford, who could play guard or tackle. Arizona has tried to upgrade its line this offseason, adding Marcus Gilbert and J.R. Sweezy, and Ford could play immediately. Ridley isn’t as polished as his brother, Calvin, who went in Round 1 last year, but he has some upside, and the Cardinals need to think about life after Larry Fitzgerald.

Ford measured 6-foot-4 and 329 pounds at the NFL Draft combine. Heading into his redshirt junior season at Oklahoma, he switched from guard to right tackle after an injury along the Sooners’ offensive line.

Losing weight helped him slide over to a new position, and he ended up starting 14 games, earning a first team All-Big 12 honor and third team Associated Press All-America recognition.

Ridley left Georgia after his junior season of 44 catches for 570 yards and nine touchdowns.

At 6-foot-1 and 199 pounds, he recorded a 4.58 40-yard dash and 30.5-inch vertical jump at the combine. Those numbers don’t scream elite athlete, but Ridley is viewed as a strong possession receiver who can use routes and technique to get separation and then make plays on the ball.

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