It’s expected to get wild on Day 1 of the NFL Draft well before the Arizona Cardinals are up to select.
And even though one position of need (cornerback) has dominated the majority of mock drafts and another (receiver) has been floated as a fun idea, the reality is this: We all expect a crazy number of things to change the board by the time general manager Steve Keim can draft at No. 16.
We asked our hosts for 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station and editors at ArizonaSports.com to take a swing at what they think the Cardinals will ultimately end up doing on Thursday.
Who do you predict the Cardinals will select with their 16th overall pick and why?
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: I think the prudent thing to do at No. 16 is for the Cardinals to draft a cornerback. It’s an area of great need and there should be at least one of the top corners in the class available. I think Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn will be gone, but Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech and Greg Newsome II of Northwestern should be there.
Farley has had two back surgeries and didn’t play in 2020, so that might be one red flag too many for the Cardinals, who definitely need their first round pick to make an immediate impact in 2021. Therefore, if he’s available, I think Keim should pick Newsome, unless one of the Alabama receivers (DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle) is still on the board.
Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf: Sorry to cop out but I really don’t know, so I have to go with two options. If Surtain, Horn or Farley are there, I think that’s the pick. Unless there’s a shocker where someone from the top seven drops to 16, they then trade down if they don’t get one of the CBs.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: I don’t think I see them trading up, although I’m sure if they could get in play for Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, they would have to think about it. I can see them wanting to trade down, but it takes two to tango so that may be difficult. So I’ll stick with them picking at 16. I have my Gambo 5 so this pick will be one of those.
While most have the Cardinals going offense and I do have three offensive players in my Gambo 5, I will go with Zaven Collins, the linebacker out of Tulsa, with this pick. Collins is your typical Mike linebacker who can make all the plays and all the calls. Freak athlete who will replace Jordan Hicks and team up with Isaiah Simmons to form a solid linebacking corps.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: I predict a trade down for the Cardinals. Perhaps I’m confusing my predictions with my desire so I’ll clarify. I strongly want the Cardinals to move out of this spot. I have a feeling the way this is going to break that they’ll want to move out knowing they can get a guy later in the draft. What’s unclear is if they’ll find someone to dance with. So I’ll say I (hope) for a trade down. But if they stay put, I’ll say USC offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Luke Lapinski, host of The Rundown with Luke Lapinski: The power move is to trade up, get Kyle Pitts, and run your offense like you’re playing this season on Xbox. Probably not realistic though, and it sounds like Keim would rather trade down and grab a few more picks anyway. If they stay at No. 16, I’ll go with Farley. Corner is still a need long-term, and I seriously doubt Surtain II or Horn will be available when the Cardinals are on the clock.
There’s a little more risk with Farley than some of the other guys out there, but his ceiling’s higher, too. And adding Malcolm Butler means they don’t necessarily have to rush a player like Farley right into the lineup anyway.
Jordan Byrd, host of Arizona Sports Saturday and producer of Burns & Gambo: Alijah Vera-Tucker. I think it is unlikely that any of the top WRs and CBs are still on the board when the Cardinals go on the clock. It’s certainly possible for Keim and Co. to survey their available big board and trade down, but I predict they stay at 16 and select the best player available, the offensive lineman from USC.
Kellan Olson, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter: Keim is due to be a little boring. The expectations are getting kinda wild. Trading up with a future first for a tight end? What’s going on around here? Horn seems a little boring. A perfectly fine pick in the middle of the first round to address the team’s biggest weakness they clearly left open with the draft in mind.
Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter: I actually do believe the Cardinals would do the fun thing and draft one of the Alabama receivers at 16 if they fell to them. But even in a scenario where five quarterbacks go in the top-15 picks and players fall, too many teams ahead of Arizona have young QBs needing some weaponry around them.
As crazy as it might get before the pick, it’s easier to predict Horn falling to the Cardinals over one of the ‘Bama receivers. It’d be a fine fit playing him at corner with Butler (for a year) and Byron Murphy.
Tyler Drake, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter: For me, it’s pretty simple: If the top two cornerbacks (Horn, Surtain) or top three wide receivers (Ja’Marr Chase, Smith, Waddle) are off the board, trade the pick for a late first-rounder and hopefully a pick in the third or fourth, something Keim said was an enticing idea last week.
I think Farley brings with him too many red flags, while Newsome could be there later on in the first round. I don’t think they can go wrong with either a CB or WR in the opening round. It’s just the matter of would you rather give Murray another weapon and put some pressure on Isabella and Johnson or give the defense a fresh new face to build around?