A recent mock draft from NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein had the Miami Dolphins trading up to get Joe Burrow No. 1 overall and prized versatile Clemson defender Isaiah Simmons going to Arizona at No. 8.
But if the Cardinals go offensive line with their first-round pick, as has been much-speculated after the team filled other needs during the first week of free agency, Zierlein thinks Alabama tackle Jedrick Wills is the best bet when compared to other projected first-round projected tackles like Louisiville’s Mekhi Becton or Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs.
“He’s just better than most,” Zierlein told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Monday. “Becton is bigger, but Becton doesn’t play with the same level of body control. Becton doesn’t play with the same consistency of hands. Becton is an outstanding athlete, but I think there’s some questions about how he’s going to handle some of his pass sets when he’s got to get into full-on, NFL style pass sets.
“Right now, he is a big, athletic, powerful guy. But he doesn’t sustain his blocks. He looks to just bludgeon people and throw them to the ground, but in the NFL, he’s got to learn to play with better discipline, he’s got to learn to play with better patience and he’s got to learn to sustain blocks rather than just maul people.”
Getting an offensive lineman would add depth and maybe a new starter in front of Justin Murray, who was the starter at right tackle most of last year as Marcus Gilbert missed the entire season.
GM Steve Keim added to the defensive line, outside linebacker and inside linebacker positions and re-signed running back Kenyan Drake already this offseason. He also traded for wideout DeAndre Hopkins. Arguably, the offensive line is the only position group for the Cardinals where at least one starter addition is needed.
Becton had a good combine, where he ran a 5.10 second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-7 and 364 pounds. Wirfs had the fastest combine 40 time among offensive linemen, running it in 4.85 seconds. He measured at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds.
Zierlein just will take Wills’ skillset over the two high-profile athletes.
“Jedrick Wills fires from his hips, he unlocks into his drive-blocking. He’s a physical, aggressive drive blocker, he’s got a nasty streak. He’s got really nice feet to set out wide to catch speed rushers, and he’s got the ability to slide back inside against counters, and that’s a major problem right now for Wirfs. I don’t really think it’s that close between Wirfs and Wills, to be honest with you.”
For what it’s worth, the aforementioned mock draft from Zierlein had Wills going No. 7 to Carolina, meaning he’s not even an option for Arizona at eight. But the sequence of Wills and Simmons seventh and eighth could just as easily be reversed. Becton went fourth to the Giants and Wirfs went 10th to Cleveland.
“Wirfs is a great workout guy, and he looks great on the hook, but Wills is just better in pass protection and Wills is better as a run blocker,” Zierlein said. “I don’t think it’s close between those two guys right now.”