ARIZONA CARDINALS

NFL mock draft carousel: 4 simulation-aided picks for the Cardinals

Mar 12, 2022, 9:00 AM

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

NFL mock drafts are a dime a dozen this time of year, with national analysts taking a broad-stroke approach across the league.

So in an effort to keep things fresh, I switched things up and solely focused on the Arizona Cardinals and their first-round pick at No. 23 with the help of Pro Football Focus’ mock draft generator.

After simulating each of the first 22 picks of the NFL Draft, I weighed the options at No. 23 and decided which avenue to navigate.

But instead of calling it good after one run-through, I went rapid fire with four separate mock drafts, pinpointing a different team need in each.

The rules: Trades were fair game and everything was done in succession of one another. No skipping allowed.

So without further ado, the aftermath of letting me go wild with multiple mock drafts:

1. Texas A&M G Kenyon Green (trade)

Best available:

– Central Michigan T Bernhard Raimann
– North Carolina QB Sam Howell
– Texas A&M G Kenyon Green
– Northern Iowa T Trevor Penning
– Georgia DL Devonte Wyatt

Reasoning:

Kicking things off with a trade! I looked to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a trade partner with the thinking they would likely go with a quarterback given Tom Brady’s retirement this offseason. Instead of standing pat at 23rd, I flipped it for Tampa Bay’s first-rounder (27th) on top of an additional third-round pick at No. 91.

Two prospects I had in mind with the original selection were Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave and Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie. However, Olave was taken at No. 20 to Pittsburgh, while McDuffie was nabbed by Minnesota at No. 12.

Those developments turned my sights toward filling the team’s need at guard or another cornerback, with Green or Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam as my primary options with the 27th pick.

Ultimately, I felt Green was a steal at No. 27 and gives the Cardinals another option to utilize in the trenches, especially after Arizona’s inconsistency at the right guard spot this past season. Giving quarterback Kyler Murray, who very much would like an extension this offseason, a bodyguard is never a bad thing.

Green gives the Cardinals a versatile lineman that can move between both guard and tackle spots if needed.

At the NFL Combine. the 6-foot-3 Green weighed in at 323 pounds and posted hand measurements of 34 1/8 inches. His wingspan sits at an impressive 83 3/8 inches. He also put up 20 bench press reps.

Feedback: PFF graded the first-round pick of Green with an A and the overall trade with a B.

2. Ohio State WR Chris Olave

Best available:

– Central Michigan T Bernhard Raimann
– Ohio State WR Chris Olave
– North Carolina QB Sam Howell
– Northern Iowa T Trevor Penning
– Georgia DL Devonte Wyatt

Reasoning:

This was the absolute no-brainer among the four mocks with Olave still on the board.

With DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore the only other wideouts under contract through next season that saw extended roles in the offense in 2021, Olave immediately provides a boost.

As a senior last season at Ohio State (11 games), Olave reeled in 65 catches for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns as the team’s No. 3 option. He didn’t crack the 1,000-yard mark but did pace all Buckeyes pass catchers in touchdowns and was third in receiving yards.

Learning the ins and outs from a WR like Hopkins will only help Olave as he transitions from college to the NFL.

Feedback: PFF handed out an A- grade for the Olave pick.

3. Georgia DL Travon Walker

Best available:

– Central Michigan T Bernhard Raimann
– Texas A&M Kenyon Green
– Georgia DL Travon Walker
– Northern Iowa T Trevor Penning
– Georgia DL Devonte Wyatt

Reasoning:

After adding to the offense in the first two mocks, it was time to give the defense a reinforcement in the form of Walker at No. 23.

While J.J. Watt and Zach Allen figure to be the team’s starting defensive ends this upcoming season, adding a depth piece like Walker would be a wise move, especially with the injuries the defensive line saw last season.

In his first season as a Cardinal, Watt played in the first seven games before suffering a shoulder injury that would end up requiring surgery. His absence was surely felt. Jordan Phillips, another starter, also continued his injury-riddled tenure in Arizona, playing just nine games for a second straight season.

Beyond Watt, Allen and Phillips, Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence are the only other defensive linemen under contract next season.

Walker showed off his abilities at the combine, running a 4.51-second 40-yard dash time, the third best in the DL group. He also put up a 35.5-inch vertical leap.

Feedback: PFF gave the Walker selection a B+.

4. Florida CB Kaiir Elam (trade)

Best available:

– Central Michigan T Bernhard Raimann
– Texas A&M G Kenyon Green
– Northern Iowa T Trevor Penning
– Georgia DL Devonte Wyatt
– Baylor CB Jalen Pitre

Reasoning:

Another mock, another trade.

This time around, my focus was solely on adding a cornerback.

I thought it was a bit of a reach to go after Elam with the 23rd pick, opting to trade it, plus Nos. 87 and 176, to the Buffalo Bills for Nos. 25 and 57.

Two picks later, however, and it felt like the right move, especially with added draft capital.

Last season as a junior with the Gators (10 games), Elam recorded 29 tackles, 1.5 for losses, an interception and five passes defensed. Elam is also one who prides himself on being on an island. Sliding him in with Byron Murphy and former Gator Marco Wilson would give the Cardinals another body in a cornerbacks room that has Breon Borders and Jace Whittaker as the only other depth pieces on the roster.

And with two second-round picks nearly back-to-back following the trade, it gives the Cardinals another high pick to work with, whether they use it themselves or trade it away.

Feedback: PFF gave the Elam pick a B+ and the overall trade a C+.

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NFL mock draft carousel: 4 simulation-aided picks for the Cardinals