CB Patrick Peterson – Boom
Peterson is the most complete player in this year’s draft and will more than likely be an immediate starter in the NFL. Peterson has the size, speed and strength to hang with almost any wideout in the professional ranks. Peterson is also one of the safest picks, because he could be moved to safety, if needed. In addition to defense, special teams is another area where Peterson can make a difference.
Peterson’s strong points, however, would likely go to waste in the Cardinals’ new defensive scheme. Ray Horton is set to instill a zone-heavy gameplan in the secondary, limiting Peterson’s ability to play physical in man-to-man coverage.
OLB Von Miller – Bust
Many would argue that Miller is one of the more complete players in this year’s draft but prior to his senior season as Texas A&M, Miller was considered strictly a pass rusher. Miller’s contributions against the run didn’t take off until this past season, and although he continued the trend with a solid all-around performance at the Senior Bowl, there are still question marks about his physical nature.
When selecting a player with a top five pick, some issues are permissible but a lack of physicality isn’t. Two linebackers that have experienced success in Cardinals’ style of defense are James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Miller does not appear to be in the same category.
DE/OLB Robert Quinn – Boom
While many of the Cardinal faithful have fallen in love with Miller, Quinn needs some attention. Quinn has been overlooked for a variety of reasons, including a suspension during his senior season at North Carolina. Quinn is strong at the point of attack and might be a better overall fit in Arizona’s 3-4 defense. Additionally, Quinn has a higher upside than Miller and could grow to be a more dominate pass rusher.
Quinn’s potential will certainly catch the Cardinals’ eye but so will his off the field issues. However, if Quinn manages to ease those concerns during the pre-draft process, he could end up being the selection in Round 1. Quinn has top three talent in year’s draft class, and would be great value at pick No. 5.
QB Cam Newton – Bust
Newton’s talent will be argued back and forth from now until late April’s draft. Newton has freakish physical skills, a strong arm and an intimidating stature. However, Newton is far too unproven as a passer to be considered a can’t miss prospect in the NFL. Newton’s primary strengths come on the ground, and unlike Michael Vick, he thrives as a power rusher rather than an explosive one.
Considering how fast the Cardinals dropped in the NFC West last season, waiting around for a player like Newton isn’t an option – regardless of his potential talent or flaws. If Arizona does invest in a young quarterback, a more polished alternative would be the choice.
QB Blaine Gabbert – Boom
It’s still a long shot that Arizona takes a quarterback with its first-round pick, but the signal caller from Missouri could be just what the Cardinals need. Gabbert is a pure pocket passer with the athleticism to move around and make plays outside of the pocket. Gabbert has prototypical size and arm strength for an NFL quarterback and might not be that far off from a Sam Bradford type of talent.
There’s a chance that Peterson, Miller and Quinn are all unavailable when the Cardinals go on the clock in Round 1. If that scenario pans out, the ability to trade down could also be limited and Gabbert would almost have to come under consideration as the franchise’s future under center.
Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at firstname.lastname@example.org
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