GLENDALE, Ariz. - After finishing the season with an NFL-worst 3-13 record, the Arizona Cardinals will draft first overall for the first time in franchise history.
Now that the college football season is officially over and the Cardinals have their coach, we can start speculating who the Cardinals will take at No. 1.
In the last 10 drafts, a quarterback has gone first seven times.
Arizona (most likely, more on this later) has their quarterback, rookie Josh Rosen, who was picked in the first round by the Cardinals in last year's draft and then played in 14 games in 2018.
But, the Cardinals have a lot of needs, especially on offense. The Cardinals offense finished dead last in the NFL in total offense this season, dead last in total yards per game, dead last in yards per game, dead last in first downs per game.
A lot of it has to do with injuries and poor play at offensive line, inexperience at quarterback and a weak receiving core. But, with the No. 1 pick, the Cardinals are going to want a game changer. No longer is it typical for offensive linemen to be a priority at such a high draft pick.
In the last five drafts, quarterbacks were taken three times and defensive ends were taken twice (Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney).
That's not to say Arizona won't consider an offensive lineman at No. 1 because they will, and it wouldn't be a bad move. But, in the NFL today you see those game-changing players on defense, typically a pass rusher or a dominant run stopper that can plug the middle and even get to the quarterback. The Khalil Mack's, the Aaron Donald's, the Von Miller's, the J.J. Watt's and so on.
But, with the hiring of "offensive guru" Kliff Kingsbury, he'll have some say in who the Cardinals pick at No. 1 and he may push for an offensive playmaker, which could also result in the Cardinals trading down.
There are multiple teams that could look to move up to No. 1, especially to draft a quarterback. Those teams include the Raiders at No. 4, Giants at No. 6, Jaguars at No. 7, Broncos at No. 9 and even the Dolphins at No. 13.
Arizona's top needs are at offensive line, wide receiver, defensive line, cornerback and linebacker.
Here are a few you can expect the Cardinals to highly consider taking at No. 1, or a little later if the team trades away its pick.
Nick Bosa, defensive end, Ohio State
Nick Bosa has been a favorite for the No. 1 pick since 2017. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive end played just three games in 2018 due to a core muscle injury, but had four sacks and six tackles-for-loss in those three games this season.
He's the younger brother of Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa. Joey was taken third overall by the Chargers in 2016, a pick that has paid off dearly for them.
Nick Bosa has the same style as his older brother. An edge rusher that brings speed and strength to the line. He could line up on the opposite side of the line from Chandler Jones to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
Quinnen Williams, defensive tackle, Alabama
Quinnen Williams saw his draft stock rise all season. He's an absolute beast at 6-foot-4, 290 pounds and is a ferocious run stopper on the interior line.
The sophomore had 71 tackles this year, 19.5 tackles-for-loss and eight sacks. He was impressive on the national stage in Alabama's semifinal game against Oklahoma Dec. 29. He led all college football defenders in overall grade by Pro Football Focus at 96.1, leading his position in both QB pressures and defensive stops.
Williams fills a need for Arizona, and has garnered comparisons to Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, a player the Cardinals are very familiar with, having to play him two times a year.
Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
Josh Allen is another pass rusher and a freak athlete who has jumped into the top five in many mock drafts this season.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound linebacker was a force in the SEC this year with a whopping 17 sacks and 21.5 tackles-for-loss. According to Pro Football Focus, which said Allen was the No. 4 player in college football this year with a 92.1 overall grade, he got to the quarterback with pressure on more than 23 percent of his pass rushes-the best of any player that rushed the quarterback 200+ times.
He's a guy who can change a defense and is a threat to create big plays every time he's on the field.
Greg Little, offensive tackle, Ole Miss
If the Cardinals do decide to go with an offensive lineman, there will probably be two big names to consider. One is Greg Little, an offensive tackle out of Ole Miss. He's 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds. He decided to forego his senior season to join the draft. Perhaps the best thing about him? Durability. He played in every single game of his college career and started in 29 of them.
The Cardinals have the worst offensive line in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, and it's not quite close. The only bright spot for the Cardinals offensive line was that fact that rookie center Mason Cole could play more than 600 snaps, the only Cardinal on the front line that could do so. Eleven different players played 100 snaps plus on the offensive line for Arizona this season, giving up more than three sacks per game.
The Cardinals line needs a rock and Greg Little could be that while also providing much-needed protection for young Josh Rosen.
Jawaan Taylor, offensive tackle, Florida
Similar to Little, Jawaan Taylor is foregoing his senior year and will enter the NFL Draft after he started all three seasons at Florida. He's 6-5, 325 pounds and covers a major a need for Arizona.
Greedy Williams, cornerback, LSU
The Cardinals secondary was decent everywhere except at the second cornerback position. The Cardinals have an impressive group at defensive backs including 8-time Pro Bowl corner Patrick Peterson, Budda Baker at strong safety and then Antoine Bethea and Tre Boston at free safety, who both had pretty good years. And, if D.J. Swearinger is on the team in 2019, this could be a potentially lethal secondary.
IF, they make one key addition.
The second cornerback spot was pretty much a disaster. As Pro Football Focus points out, it dropped the Cardinals to 20th in the NFL in secondary grades. The three main corners Arizona threw out there included Brandon Williams, David Amerson and Leonard Johnson, who were all graded under 60.0 by PFF this year.
The cornerback position is undoubtedly one of the NFL's most important. The Cardinals know how vital it is to have skill at the position with Peterson. You look around at the NFL's best defenses and most have two very solid corners (Chicago, Baltimore, Houston, Jacksonville, etc).
Greedy Williams is one of a few cornerbacks that are getting hype for a potential top-10 pick in this year's draft. He's leaving LSU after his sophomore year. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound corner is the active leader at LSU with eight career interceptions and 20 pass breakups. Williams lining up on the opposite side from Peterson could make things very difficult for opposing wide-outs.
Ed Oliver, defensive tackle, Houston
It's hard to believe the Cardinals would take the risk on Ed Oliver at No. 1 when they could have Quinnen Williams. But, that doesn't mean it couldn't happen. With more than three months until the draft, a lot could change as players go through the combine and pre-draft interviews.
At this time last year, NFL scouts were already talking about Ed Oliver going No. 1 in the 2019 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound tackle had incredible freshman and sophomore seasons with 22 tackles for loss and five sacks in 2016 and 16.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 2017.
In 2018, Oliver played in just eight games due to injury but still recorded 14.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. It seems the hype for Oliver has subsided some, but once scouts see him at the combine fully healthy again, it could trigger a shift in the defensive line prospect rankings.
Deandre Baker, cornerback, Georgia
Similar to the Quinnen Williams or Ed Oliver comparison, the Greedy Williams/Deandre Baker one is similar. I doubt Baker would be taken over Williams if Arizona took the first corner off the board in this draft, but things change with the combine, injuries and pre-draft interviews. Williams has better size and is younger.
Baker could have gone to the draft last year after the Bulldogs finished national runner-up, but he decided to return to Georgia for his senior year. He picked up from where he left off.
Baker didn't allow a single touchdown pass in coverage in 2017 or 2018 according to Pro Football Focus, which graded him at 89.6 overall. In 2018, he allowed fewer than 50 percent of balls thrown his way to be caught.
If the Cardinals took Baker, it'd likely be after a trade-down scenario.
Kyler Murray, quarterback, Oklahoma
I'm not going to leave out this possibility after the October video of Kliff Kingsbury emerged this week from earlier this year where he said he would take Kyler Muray No. 1 overall if he were an NFL coach.
"He is a dominant football player, I would take him with the first pick," Kingsbury said.
Now that Murray, picked No. 9 overall by the Oakland Athletics in the MLB Draft last year, is expected to choose football over baseball, it's time to put your money where you mouth is, coach.
But, probably not.
It would be pretty absurd for the Cardinals to take a quarterback in the first round for the second-straight year. But, if Kingsbury likes Murray that much and thinks he could be that much of a game-changer in the NFL, it could happen. Maybe the Cardinals trade away Rosen for a pick. Who knows? It's very doubtful, but hiring a coach with no NFL experience after a third straight losing season at Texas Tech was exactly foreseen, either.
Murray had an incredible season at Oklahoma in 2018, winning the Heisman Trophy. His speed was on display every game. He rushed for more than 1,000 on 140 attempts, averaging more than seven yards per carry. In addition, he had 12 rushing touchdowns.
PFF gave Murray the top quarterback grade in 2018 and ranked him to second-best player in college football with a 94.8 grade. He had the highest average yards per pass attempt in college football with 11.6 and his adjusted completion percentage was 78.9. He threw for more than 4,000 yards, had 42 passing touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
Murray is small, listed at just 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds. This would make him the smallest quarterback in the NFL, but just an inch smaller than Russell Wilson.
Also, Rosen completed just 55 percent of his passes and threw 14 interceptions to 11 touchdowns in 14 games this season. If Kingsbury really wants to reinvent the offense, drafting Kyler Murray might be his way of doing it (shrug emoji).
Wide Receivers (Marquise Brown, A.J. Brown, N'Keal Harry, D.K. Metcalf)
There's little chance the Cardinals take a receiver at No. 1 overall. There's a good chance a receiver won't even go in the top-10 this year. But, it's not for a lack of talent at the position.
If the Cardinals take a receiver it'll likely be after a trade down scenario or they wait until the middle rounds to boost the position.
The Cardinals have a dismal pass-catching core. Larry Fitzgerald finished the season strong after a poor first half of the year when he wasn't getting the ball for whatever reason. Hopefully for the Cardinals, Fitzgerald can be enticed enough to come back for at least one more year. If he doesn't, the Cardinals will definitely need to use an early pick on a wide-out.
Christian Kirk was impressive in his rookie season out of Texas A&M, emerging to the No. 2 receiver spot and Rosen's favorite target before he went down with a season-ending injury Dec. 2. No doubt Kingsbury will love to have a speedy weapon like Kirk on the offensive side of the ball.
But after that, there's nothing. Chad Williams, J.J. Nelson, Trent Sherfield, yikes.
Some names that are at the top of the receiver prospect list include speedy Marquise Brown out of Oklahoma, who had 1,300+ yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Brown is 5-10, 170 pounds.
If the Cardinals want a bigger target to take the place of Fitzgerald in the future, Arizona State's N'Keal Harry (6-4), Ole Miss' A.J. Brown (6-1) and D.K. Metcalf (6-4) are all potential first or early second-round options.