Arizona Cardinals: Top Three 2020 NFL Draft Needs

It’s NFL draft time here in the United States again, like a former boss of mine used to say “it’s Christmas for football fans”. This time it’s time to take a look at the Arizona Cardinals who greatly improved by close to everything except covering tight ends and their win total. This offense was completely unleashed thanks to the additions of Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury. Arizona is on track to possibly explode into playoff contention after this off-season. Already they have made a huge splash after committing a heist and stealing Deandre Hopkins from the Houston Texans among other moves. Now It’s time to see what they need to do in the draft to help go from a 5 to a possibly 9 win team. One thing it is important to note, any prospects below that are second rounders is assuming that the Cardinals trade back from eight and recieve a package of picks.

Offensive Line

The offensive line is an interesting need per-se. The reason it is interesting is that when you look at the stat sheet, it is horrid. They gave up 40 sacks on the season last year. That alone is enough to make some fans and most national analysts believe that this O line is in absolute shambles. The thing about that is, according to Pro Football Focus, just over half of that number is charged to Kyler Murray. They state on their website that no quarterback in the NFL has more charged to them than Murray.

Even with that number, they still were ranked fourth-worst in the NFL when it came to run blocking. Which, once again could probably be contributed to the timid running of David Johnson and Coach Kingsbury’s inability to establish the run early in games. Nonetheless, here are some players that the Cardinals may look at to add some depth to this offensive line.

Tristan Wirfs – Iowa

This absolute mountain of a man has been attributed to the Cardinals in several mock drafts from well-respected individuals. Some interesting things about him were he was a three-sport star while in high school playing football, track and field, and wrestling. He broke the Iowa Hawkeye’s record in the weight room by lifting over 450 pounds. At the combine, he also broke records for all offensive lineman all-time in the vertical and broad jumps. But let’s talk about his football resume for a second, this player played 35 games in three seasons at Iowa and was named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of The Year. His bread and butter on the offensive line are pass protection, which with Coach Kingsbury’s “Pro-Raid” style offense makes him a great fit.

Austin Jackson – USC

It’s important to note that this is one of those players where he may or may not be there when the Cardinals pick in the second round. That all depends on how many linemen are taken in round one. If there is a lot of skills players taken and that trend continues in the dawn of the second round, then this player would be idiotic for the Cardinals to miss on in round two. Jackson had a solid NFL combine workout and a really fast 40-yard dash.

Where he separated himself, however, was in the regular season when he played with quick feet and excellent agility. Scouts say he is an easy mover that tends to play with good leverage. This player is raw from a fundamentals standpoint and will need to work on technique for the NFL. One thing about his great character that has to be mentioned is why he had to take a leave of absence from USC at the beginning of the season. He walked away from football for a little bit to donate bone marrow for his younger sister.

Prince Tega Wanogho – Auburn

Just in case the Arizona Cardinals wait until round three to address the O Line, one player they could go after is Prince Tega Wanogho. There were a few times that he looked as if he had the first-round talent last year playing for Auburn, while other times, not so much. In fact, there is a consensus among scouts that if he plays up to his potential he could be one of the biggest diamonds in the rough in the entire draft.

However, there are some questions about his love of football and character overall which would be the only reason he slips to the third round it seems like. There is a lot of potential and upside with this particular player, but he lacks consistency. Maybe the Cardinals have the winning formula under Offensive Line Coach Sean Kugler that can open up this can of whoop-ass on the rest of the NFL and protect Kyler.

Pass Rush

Now to make it clear, I am not going with a specific position for this category. They need to find someone that can get to the quarterback that way Chandler Jones becomes even more disruptive (if that is even possible). Despite ranking second in the league, there were oftentimes when teams would be able to double team and run right around him. The Cardinals believed that with Terrell Suggs on the other end it would help, but it didn’t and Chandler had to carry the team on defense. If the Arizona Cardinals can pair someone with Chandler Jones that may be able to work with him, that could pay dividends to this team.

Derrick Brown – Auburn

There are few and far between when it comes to experts that have mocked this man even lasting til the Arizona Cardinals at 8, but if he is there, they better jump on him. First and foremost he does not have any character issues so teams will not have to worry about him as a liability when it comes to off the field stuff. He had a decent showing at the combine but what helps his draft stock is his numbers and tenacity. As a Junior, Brown faced a lot of double teams and still ended up with 48 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss and one forced fumble in 2018.

Last season he totaled 55 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 batted passes and two fumble recoveries with a lot of yards gained on said recoveries. One game if you are curious that showcases how disruptive this player can be is Auburn Vs. Florida. In this game alone he had a strip-sack, two fumble recoveries, and a huge amount of pure disruption in the background. He was also a centerpiece in Auburn’s game against Georgia’s all-star offensive line.

Yetur Gross-Matos – Penn State

If the Arizona Cardinals decide to go a different route in round one, they could always hope for this star in round two. When it came to the combine teams were not impressed. Last year he put up 40 tackles with 9.5 sacks. His main strength is that he is an exceptional run blocker. This is a skill that the Cardinals need after giving up almost 1922 rushing yards and an average of 4.4 yards per carry.  

The interesting part about Matos is the fact there is a growing sentiment that Penn State hurt his draft stock by playing him out of position so much in his last year there. He has a tremendous upside if a defensive coordinator used him properly. There is only one character concern that is mentioned with him. Matos was a part of a hazing lawsuit against Penn State that was brought forth by a former teammate. It is up to each team if that helps or hurts his chances of being picked.

Terrell Lewis – Alabama

Last season Lewis totaled 31 tackles, six sacks, and two batted passes. He showcased a dynamic skill set that combined speed, power, length, and agility. During the Senior Bowl, he had a major showing, beating a lot of the lineman on the other side of the football on many different possessions. The thing that hurts him and why many are not talking about him as a possible first-round pick comes down to injury concerns. Some scouts feel Lewis still dragging one of his legs and has not completely come back from injury. That comes as a red flag for a lot of different teams and may drop him to the third round thanks to how deep some other classes in this year’s draft are.

Wide Receivers

During the off-season, this team had to say goodbye to a few players that were starting to catch fire late last season. Which ends up opening up the receiving corps for the draft. This is a case of best player available and a possible long term need. Every year Cardinals fans hold their breath and make bets as to if the face of the franchise Larry Fitzgerald was returning or not. Up until this point, there has not seemed to be a successor for this icon. Some argued that Christian Kirk would be a possibility for that, but others are not so certain. There are two of these guys that could fit their needs in round one, and another in round two waiting for them.

CeeDee Lamb – Oklahoma

By all accounts, CeeDee is one of if not the best wide receiver in this draft. Lamb has decent enough speed, but it is not what he is known for. He makes plays using his superior route running abilities, strength, and great hands. After the catch, he is a serious threat to many on the field. Last season he had 62 receptions for 1327 yards and 14 touchdowns.

One perk to having him on the team is his familiarity with Kyler Murray. Another is the fact that after they drafted Murray last season, the Arizona Cardinals swapped a lot of the offensive lingo to Oklahoma Sooner language. So there would be a lot less of a learning curve for CeeDee. That on top of the fact that he could come in and learn from Deandre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald on how to be an amazing player on the field and in the community.

Henry Ruggs III – Alabama

This man was a part of a stellar Crimson Tide offense. Many people think Jerry Jeudy is the best Alabama wide receiver, but others consider Henry Ruggs III to be better. Last season Ruggs had 40 catches for 746 yards and seven touchdowns. The fastest out of the Alabama receiving corps, Henry was held back thanks to the talent that came with him on that side of the ball. He has the ability to seriously stretch the field and become a migraine for defensive backs.

People have said that at just about any other school in the NCAA, Henry Ruggs would be an instant number one receiver producing a big stat line. Henry Ruggs is the full package when it comes to a wide receiver, and even being second or third on the totem pole, is still one of the top three prospects in all of college football. If that doesn’t speak volumes I do not know what does.

Wild Card

Now stay with me for a second. This particular part of the article is an out-there move that does not fit within their needs that the Arizona Cardinals may make anyway. Last season Kenyan Drake came about midway through and had an extremely stellar year to the point the Cardinals ended up giving him an 8.5 million dollar one year contract. Why only one year though? It could be that the team is extremely gunshy after the David Johnson blunder. Or it could be that Kenyan Drake is a place holder for someone they have had their eyes on for a while, Clyde Edwards-Helaire. That’s right, Joe Burrow’s running back.

This man got completely overshadowed by his quarterback and because of that will probably be available for the Cardinals in round two. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry with 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2019. Not to mention 55 receptions for 453 yards receiving. He’s got all the tools in the toolbox you could ask for in the future running back. The Cardinals could pick him up, and keep him on a rookie deal for two years at least and build a Super Bowl juggernaut. Do not be surprised if this man ends up an Arizona Cardinal after round two if he were to fall that far.

What do you think the Arizona Cardinals will do? Leave a comment below

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