PHOENIX- The first round of the NFL Draft is coming to a close. The Arizona Cardinals are on the clock. What will they do with the 29th overall pick? Here's what we think will happen:
Cards select: Robert Nkemdiche-DL-Mississippi
At 6’5, 295 pounds Nkemdiche is physically imposing. He has that rare blend of speed, quickness and power. He was rated the number one high school football prospect in the country coming out of high school. He has all the tools to excite general managers and coaches.
However, he’s not one of those guys who sleeps, eats and drinks football which scares away many teams.
To put another way, he flashes his talent and potential while showing at other times an inconsistent motor. 6 ½ sacks in three years does not do his physical skill set and talent justice.
But I believe the Cardinals have the right program, players and coaches in place to consistently get the best out of Nkemdiche. And if that holds true the Cardinals could have themselves the steal of the draft. Nkemdiche is a versatile lineman who can play both inside and outside. It is very intriguing to project him at defensive end with Chandler Jones at linebacker. In other packages you could slide Nkemdiche inside to tackle with Jones moving down next to him at end on the line. It's the kind of versatility the Cardinals use to enjoy with Darnell Dockett.
Cards select: Noah Spence-LB-Eastern Kentucky
Do we draft for want or need? It's question very few teams in the NFL have the luxury of asking themselves during the draft. The Cardinals are one of those teams. Bruce Arians motto, "Take the talented player. Needs will get you broke or fired." Lucky for BA, their roster is loaded, so they can draft for want or need.
They need a center, pass-rusher and cornerback.
Steve Keim says the 29th overall pick isn't too high to draft a center, "If he's an impact player, I don't care what position he plays, you take him and never look back."
Alabama center Ryan Kelly is that impact player. Some project him to be a decade-long center in the NFL and a future Pro-Bowler. TAKE HIM if he's there, but I don't think he'll be there.
At some point this weekend, the Cardinals will select a quarterback, but hopefully not with the 29th overall pick. Roll the dice in the later rounds and select Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones. He has the size and arm Arians likes, plus he has been through little coaching, so they can mold him into their quarterback.
So who will they take? If either Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche or Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence are there, take one of them!
Both Nkemdiche and Spence have first round talent, but both carry off the field issues. I wouldn't worry about those, because this organization allows players with past troubles to excel if they shut up, listen and put in the work.
But if neither are there, trade out and and get more picks. Simple.
Cards select: Nobody... they trade the pick
Just look at Steve Keim and Bruce Arians track record together. John Brown and David Johnson were third round picks.
Rodney Gunter was a late-round selection. It seems like the later in the draft, the better the Cardinals draft.
That's not to say the duo has been bad in the earlier rounds, but I don't see a player there that would justify holding serve and making a pick.
Nkemdiche and Spence have character red flags, and embarking on another offensive lineman project doesn't seem to make sense either.
Trade back, get an extra pick or two and do what you do best, find the steals of the draft.