On the 12th day of Draftmas The Game Haus gave to me, the Arizona Cardinals 2017 NFL Draft profile.
It is safe to say that the 2016 season was a major disappointment for the Cardinals. After losing in the NFC Championship the year before, they then went 7-8-1. Their offense and defense can both take blame for their significant drop-off.
The Cardinals went from averaging 30.6 points per game two years ago to just 26.1 last year. Defensively, the amount of points they allowed went up from 19.6 points per game to 22.6.
The Cardinals need to improve on both sides of the ball if they want to get back into the playoffs.
One of the first big moves the Cardinals made was moving running back Andre Ellington to wide receiver. Ellington is an explosive playmaker who won’t be on the field much at running back due to the emergence of David Johnson. The position change gives Ellington more opportunities to use his skills to help the team.
Arizona signed Antoine Bethea and Jarvis Jones to the defensive end of the ball. The Cardinals will be able to split their picks between offense and defense due to these two big signings on defense.
Picks and Needs
Arizona has eight picks in the draft and must use at least one to find the heir to Carson Palmer. They have one pick in each of the seven rounds.
First Round: (1) No.13
Second Round: (1) No. 45
Third Round: (1) No. 77
Fourth Round: (1) No. 119
Fifth Round: (2) No. 157, 179 (compensatory selection)
Sixth Round: (1) No. 197
Seventh Round: (1) No. 231
Wide Receiver: Larry Fitzgerald is close to retirement. Outside of him, they have no true number one receiver.
Quarterback: Carson Palmer is aging and got beat up last year behind a weak offensive line.
Right Tackle: DJ Humphries was a weak spot on their line and they should try and find a replacement.
Right Guard: Palmer was hit often and much of the pressure came from the right side of the line.
Tight End: Jermaine Gresham is a solid tight end, but the Cardinals could use a second option.
Defensive Tackle: Arizona’s rush defense got worse from 2015 to 2016. Fixing that starts upfront.
Outside Linebacker: An upgrade could be used on the weak side of the second level.
Cornerback: Patrick Peterson is a top five corner but they need someone to help him on the other side.
Targets and Thoughts
Here are the predictions of the first three rounds barring no trades.
First Round, Pick 13: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Corey Davis could become one of the best receivers in the NFL. He has the intangibles and performed well against tough competition.
Davis had 701 yards and five touchdowns against Big Ten teams. He also broke the career receiving yards record in the FBS with 5,285 yards. Most impressively he had 52 touchdowns in 50 career starts. Davis could learn under Fitzgerald while on his way to becoming, dare I say, the next Terrell Owens.
Second Round, Pick 45: TJ Watt, LB, Wisconsin
Watt would be a perfect fit in Arizona’s 3-4 scheme. He can rush the passer with the best of them from the second level. Watt is also phenomenal at taking on blockers and shedding them to make the tackle. Watt could become a Pro Bowler one day.
Picking him in the second round would be a huge steal. Some say he lacks size and explosiveness, but as he develops, he will make people forget about his size.
Third Round, Pick 77: Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama
Arizona needs help at the defensive tackle position to become better at stopping the run. Tomlinson brings a 6-foot-3, 310 pound frame that can really create havoc.
Tomlinson gets off blocks quickly and has a high football IQ. His awareness is one of his best strengths. The main concern is the amount of playing time he had at Alabama. He played under 50 percent of the defensive snaps, but some attribute that to the amount of talent Alabama has to keep their defensive line as fresh as possible.
The Cardinals must find a quarterback at some point in the draft to learn under Palmer so they have a seamless transition when he retires. If the team improves defensively and keeps teams under 20 points per game, the Cardinals can find their way into the playoffs again.
Building around David Johnson is also key. Johnson is the emerging face of the franchise since Fitzgerald is entering his final years.
Thank you for joining us on our twelfth day of TGH Draftmas! Check back tomorrow where we will be bringing you the Draft Profile of the Philadelphia Eagles!
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