What will the Arizona Cardinals do in the 2014 NFL draft? Keep track of all the predictions made in our mock drafts leading up to Round 1 on May 8.
Round 1, pick 20: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
We said: First-year coordinator Todd Bowles put one of the NFL’s best defenses on the field in 2013, and John Abraham’s 11.5 sacks added a lot to that picture. But Abraham will be 36 in time for the 2014 season, and the Cards will need an up-and-coming outside pass rusher in the NFL’s most brutal division. Ford has proven that he can set the edge with great speed, and Bowles has the interior talent to put Ford in an endbacker role, where he can avoid strength issues against better blockers and just pin his ears back.
Round 1, pick 20: Dee Ford, DE/LB, Auburn
We said: As sensational as John Abraham was for the Cardinals last season, he’ll be 36 before training camp opens. Even if he’s on the field for all 16 games in 2014, this defense could use another threat off the edge. Ford did not work out at the combine because of a back-related “medical precaution,” but that did not stop him from proclaiming himself better than Clowney.
That’s not an opinion shared here, but Ford definitely can get to the QB.
Round 2, pick 52: Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State
We said: Arizona nabs a tackle after missing out on the top guys in Round 1.
Round 1, pick 20: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
We said: Is this the Derek Carr slot, with the Cardinals either putting the pick up for auction to a team in the quarterback market, or (the longer shot) taking him themselves to sit and develop behind Carson Palmer for another year or so? I don't think so. Arizona is in the highly competitive NFC West and can't afford such luxuries, especially when Bruce Arians' team badly needs an upgrade at left offensive tackle, where starter Bradley Sowell didn't fare ... wait for it ... so well. Kouandjio is big enough to block out the sun (6-5, 310) in the desert, and while he's still a bit raw, his potential is sizable.
Round 1, pick 20: Zack Martin, G/T, Notre Dame
We said: Like the Rams, the Cardinals are trying to put the finishing touches on an excellent team that will have to become even better to challenge San Francisco and Seattle in the NFC West in future years. If the Cards took Martin or someone of his caliber in this draft, and got Jonathan Cooper back from the broken left fibula that cost him the 2013 season, they’d add two first-rounders to a front five that has been under construction for eons.
Round 1, pick 20: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
We said: In Clemson’s recent bowl game, Beasley drew a matchup with Ohio State tackle and likely 2014 draft pick Jack Mewhort. He dominated. Whether teamed up with John Abraham on passing downs or groomed to replace the talented but aging veteran, Beasley would provide another piece to what’s a pretty impressive defensive puzzle in the desert.
Round 1, pick 19: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
We said: My gut says that Ebron and possibly Jace Amaro are off the board by this point come May. In this Mock, the stars did not align until this pick. Arizona has to find an offensive tackle or two somewhere — Antonio Richardson, James Hurst and Jack Mewhort are all still on the board, to name a few. Ebron’s the best player available, and he would be a godsend for Carson Palmer or whoever is at QB next season.
Round 1, pick 8: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
We said: The Cardinals have no chance to really take any substantial steps forward until they fix their offensive line. Kouandjio finally could kickstart that renovation, as a blindside protector for Carson Palmer and a force in the run game.
Round 1, pick 2: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
We said: We’re still four months from the college football season, but Bridgewater is the clear top QB prospect for 2014. That’s not to say that the QB crop is weak — several could justify first-round picks (assuming they don’t flop in 2013) and the class could have several players off the board on Day 1 or 2. But there is very little not to like about Bridgewater’s game, and the Cardinals would love to have him.