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Still about OTs for Cardinals in Mel Kiper Jr.’s NFL mock draft 2.0

Offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs #74 of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates with teammates after their match-up against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on November 23, 2018 at Kinnick Stadium, in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Mel Kiper Jr. released his first NFL mock draft 11 days after the college football national championship game.

Little has changed since then in football terms, but Kiper Jr.’s opinions apparently have taken a swing when it comes to who the Arizona Cardinals should select at No. 8 overall in the 2020 draft.

On Jan. 24, Kiper had Arizona taking the first offensive tackle off the board in Georgia’s Andrew Thomas.

Now, 3.5 weeks later, he has the Cardinals going with Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs, who is the second tackle pick off Kiper’s 2.0 mock.

This is a really good class for high-end offensive tackles — there could be five or six who go off the board in Round 1. That’s good news for Arizona, which has a hole even after it decided to bring back left tackle D.J. Humphries. Veteran right tackle Marcus Gilbert is set to hit free agency, while Justin Murray, who ended the season as the starter, is a former undrafted free agent who has bounced around the league. Wirfs played primarily on the right side for the Hawkeyes, and he had a dominant career. I expect him to test off the charts at the combine. Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray had a great first season, but the Cardinals need to add some more infrastructure around him to get Kliff Kingsbury’s offense to the next level.

Among offensive tackles, only Alabama tackle Jedrick Wills, at No. 6 to the Los Angeles Chargers, is off the board before Arizona is up in Kiper’s latest mock draft.

The last month has given him more confidence in the position group entering this year’s draft. While he had five OTs going in the first round last time around, the draft analyst now has shown more confidence in the raw talent within that group.

However, Thomas slips to No. 18 on Kiper’s latest mock. The Georgia product, once viewed by most draft analysts as the clear-cut top tackle prospect, is the fifth offensive tackle taken in Kiper’s second mock draft.

Thomas has dropped a little bit since he went in the top 10 in my Mock Draft 1.0 last month, but that’s because this tackle class is so good at the top. A pure left tackle with great feet, Thomas doesn’t have the ceiling of Laremy Tunsil, but he’s a really solid player. Given its depleted roster, Miami should go with the best prospect available in Round 1, and that’s Thomas at No. 18.

To recap, that means Wills (6th), Wirfs (8th), Louisville’s Mekhi Becton (10th), Houston’s Josh Jones (15th) and Thomas (18th) are all first-round worthy in Kiper’s eyes.


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