Free Safeties: Jarrad Page, UCLA, Charlie Peprah,
Page is a huge kid for a safety (6’1”, 238), so he
would also have the possibility of playing in the box in nickel situations. He
was the “hero” in a conference that passes more than it runs (though his
liability is in coverage, which is why he’s a 6th round prospect).
But, in a top-heavy free safety pool where there are only a couple of “can’t
miss” prospects, he looks to be a good compromise. Peprah is average sized
(5’10”, 205), but played for Alabama, which runs a very complicated defensive
scheme and finished at the top of the list in most defensive categories last
season. You don’t put up the numbers on defense that ‘Bama did with a huge
liability at Free Safety.
Plus which, with Robert Griffith still going pretty
strong (I do realize that’s a relative term), the Cardinals really just need
someone who can learn under Griffith this year and start next year, possibly
playing on special teams or in nickel and dime situations; which is why Page
would make the most sense.
Other Possibilities: Darrell Brooks, Arizona,
Chris Harrell, Penn State.
Guards: Chris Kuper, North Dakota, Rob Smith,
If I make nothing else abundantly clear in this
preview, it is that the Arizona Cardinals need to get stronger up the middle (on
both offense and defense). While there are more NFL ready guards and defensive
tackles to be found in earlier rounds, the team may go offense or get
skill-position-crazy on Day 1. Whatever happens, they need to come out of this
draft with at least one guard and at least one defensive tackle.
These two gentlemen fit the bill.
Chris Kuper has more potential, since he played
against a lower level of competition and hasn’t shown what he can do against
elite athletes. However, he shows good technique, makes up for his lack of
physical prowess with effort and intelligence, and plays with consistency and
determination. But, he’s a sixth round prospect because North Dakota is not a
perennial powerhouse and because he couldn’t find the weight room with a
compass, a metal detector, a map and a native guide. He’s tall, soft, and
awkward, but you could do a lot worse at this point in the draft.
That’s not the best way to segue into Rob Smith,
but what the heck. Smith might actually be a better prospect, since he’s more
polished, has played against better competition and shows more strength and
tenacity at the point of attack. His hole is that he spends a lot of time
inactive because of injuries. He also leaves a lot to be desired in terms of
technique. All that having been said, if he learns proper technique in the
Cardinals’ system and can stay healthy, he’ll be a serviceable guard for years
to come. And, at this point, serviceable is an upgrade in the middle of the
Other Possibilities: Tre’ Stallings, Mississippi,
Jeff Bolton, Montana State.
Defensive Tackles: Domata Peko, Michigan State,
Sir Henry Anderson, Oregon State.
Both these gentlemen are strong, good at occupying
space, and excel at using leverage to gain an advantage against an offensive
lineman. They’re both about the same size (6’3, 310), and both played in a
major conference. As run-stuffers, Peko is better suited because he played in
the Big 10, but has more character issues and injury concerns (although Anderson
did miss all of the 2002 season due to injury).
They both fit the bill of being a big guy that
takes up space in the middle. Neither is particularly explosive, neither will
be a pass rushing threat, and both would be two down guys at best. But, with
the Cardinals in dire need of help up the middle and either of these two guys
available in Round 6, they’d be good pick-ups.
Other possibilities: Manaia Brown, BYU, Gerald Anderson, Georgia.