We’ve already established that predicting Day 1 of the NFL Draft is a crapshoot concerning the Arizona Cardinals.
Let’s take that speculative energy into the second through seventh rounds of the draft and add a little flavor to it. Our 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station hosts and ArizonaSports.com editors were asked not what general manager Steve Keim will do in the later-round picks but what they think he should do.
2) Name one player you’d love for the Cardinals to draft with one of their later-round picks? Explain your choice.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: Pat Freiermuth, Penn State tight end, who could be the second-best TE in the draft. He had some injury issues with his shoulder but when healthy can be unstoppable and a great red-zone target. Freiermuth has great size at 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds, and can be a matchup nightmare. The Cards lost Dan Arnold, their top pass-catching tight end, so it would be nice to find one in this draft capable of being a receiving threat.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: Arizona State’s Frank Darby is the answer here. There won’t be a lot of opportunities to choose given the scarcity of picks in this draft but WR is obviously a need.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: I would really like to see the Cardinals add a running back to the room with their fifth-round pick to join a rotation with Chase Edmonds and James Conner. The reality is that they could get a pretty good one at that spot.
There are four that I really like for different reasons: Chuba Hubbard of Oklahoma State, Kylin Hill of Mississippi State and a couple of Pac-12 guys in UCLA’s Demetric Felton or Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson. All had success at the college level and could be real contributors in the immediate future without Keim having to spend a high pick on a back.
Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf: Any running back from UNC. I would draft Javonte Williams in the second or discuss a possible trade-up for Michael Carter in the third — and definitely go get him if he’s there in the middle of the fourth.
Luke Lapinski, host of The Rundown with Luke Lapinski: Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State. Look, I like Edmonds. And I do think Conner still has something left in the tank. People act like he’s 85; he’s actually 25. But I also know you can never have too many running backs in today’s game (see: 49ers, San Francisco), and it’s one of the few positions where I’m comfortable drafting someone and plugging them in right away if I have to.
Running backs age in dog years, and getting one outside the first round means you’re getting the bulk of their prime at a very low cost. The Cards probably still have too many needs to go RB with that second-round pick, but some projections have Hubbard available on Day 3 of the draft. He led the nation with 2,094 rushing yards in 2019, then opted out midway through last season. There’s upside here, and if you can actually get him after the third round, there’s really no risk.
Jordan Byrd, host of Arizona Sports Saturday and producer of Burns & Gambo: The Cardinals need running back help to fill out their group, but the value of the position is just too low around the league to use a high draft pick. That’s why I would love for the Cards to use one of their late-round picks on someone who can help out Edmonds and Conner.
Ohio State running back Trey Sermon should still be there on the last day of the draft and is an intriguing low-risk prospect. Yes, he has injury concerns due to his hurt shoulder from the national title game, but he literally carried the Buckeyes offense in the Big Ten Championship game and the national semifinal. Having a bruising, physical runner that could grow behind Edmonds and Conner is exactly what the Cardinals need heading into the 2021 season and beyond.
Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter: The tight end class in 2021 doesn’t appear super enticing after Kyle Pitts at the top, but the Cardinals definitely could use another body in the room with Arnold gone. Finding all-around tight ends is difficult here — that’s why Arizona drafting another receiver seems like an acceptable yet greedy move in the first round — but if the Cardinals like one of them, I could see Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth or Boston College’s Hunter Long going with the No. 49 overall pick.
Kellan Olson, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter: What’s up with Louisville WR Tutu Atwell? Did I think of him first because his name is Tutu? No more questions! On Lance Zierlein’s draft profile, he pegs Atwell as strictly a weapon for deep balls and the occasional jet sweep, knocking him quite a bit elsewhere.
If the Cardinals are ready to move on from Andy Isabella (like they should be), grabbing Atwell in the middle rounds would be a fun wrinkle to add to an offense that can lull you to sleep sometimes with the lack of explosive plays by someone not named DeAndre.
Tyler Drake, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter: I think the Cardinals would serve themselves well by getting a playmaking tight end to replace Big Dan, who resides in Carolina. No, it’s not gonna be Kyle Pitts, unless the Cardinals sell the farm and I don’t see them doing that. A much more realistic option that could be there in the later rounds is Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth.
He’s projected to be in the mid to late 40s and could be there when Arizona picks at No. 49. Zierlein compares the tight end to Tyler Eifert. Not terrible! He is coming off a shoulder injury that limited him to just four games in 2020, but has the traits the Cardinals could utilize. Prodigious Pat, anyone?