Cardinals draft Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley in Kiper’s 1st NFL mock
Most NFL Draft analysts have the Arizona Cardinals in 2021 targeting a pass catcher or a cornerback, with some linemen sprinkled in.
Adding to those trends Tuesday was ESPN’s Mel Kiper, who in his first mock draft of 2021 has Arizona going with Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley.
Arizona could have openings at both corner spots this offseason, with veterans Patrick Peterson and Dre Kirkpatrick both on the free-agent market. If the Cardinals decide to move on from the over-30 corners, this is the best place to find a new starter. One of the first prospects to opt out of the season, the 6-foot-2 Farley looked like a star on the 2019 tape, but he is still raw. He has played defensive back only since 2018.
Farley enters the draft after opting out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, the sophomore cornerback tallied 20 tackles, four interceptions — one returned for a touchdown — and 12 passes defensed. For his efforts, he was named to the All-ACC First-Team.
As a freshman, Farley recorded 36 tackles, one for a loss, two picks and seven passes defensed. He was also used as a kick returner in 2018, taking seven kicks for 152 yards (21.7 yards per return).
Looking ahead to next season, the Cardinals have just three corners under contract in Byron Murphy, Robert Alford and Jace Whittaker (futures contract). Patrick Peterson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Johnathan Joseph and Kevin Peterson all enter free agency.
Of the players still under contract, Murphy led the way with 51 tackles, three of which were for losses. He added two sacks, eight passes defensed and two fumble recoveries.
Kiper did, however, leave the door open on the possibility Arizona ends up adding to the offense through the draft.
I could also see the Cardinals keeping an eye on the wide receivers in this class; Christian Kirk has not been consistent enough to show that he can be their No. 2 wideout alongside DeAndre Hopkins.
Outside of Hopkins’ 1,407-yard and six-touchdown effort in 2020, the next best Cardinals pass catcher was Kirk, who recorded 621 yards and six scores on 48 catches.