As we continue with the Acme Packing Company Mock Draft, we break down the 20th overall pick held by the Arizona Cardinals.
The Arizona Cardinals finished 10-6 last season, doubling their win total from 2012. They reeled off impressive wins over Carolina (22-6), Indianapolis (40-11), and at Seattle (17-3) before losing 23-20 on a last-second field goal to San Francisco in Week 17 in a game that could have earned the team its first playoff appearance since 2009.
The Cardinals offense was led by quarterback Carson Palmer, who turned 34 in December. Palmer finished with over 4,000 yards passing, 24 touchdowns with 22 interceptions and a passer rating of 83.9. Palmer was able to find Larry Fitzgerald 82 times for 924 yards and 10 touchdowns, and had help from young players like Michael Floyd, John Carlson, and Rob Housler. The team also added speedy wide out Ted Ginn to the mix during the offseason.
The Cardinals defense had a surprising break-out year from rookie safety/corner Tyrann Mathieu, and had solid production from it's interior defense anchored by Darnell Dockett. The team added Antonio Cromartie this off-season in hopes of improving their defensive secondary. The team still could use an upgrade across from Sam Acho at the OLB/DE hybrid position that Arizona tends to use.
Will the team look to find a long-term answer at quarterback? Another defensive back to pair with Mathieu? Or an athletic defensive lineman to fit their pass-rushing needs?
With the 20th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select....
Name: Dee Ford
Position: Defensive End/Outside Linebacker
Recent history would suggest that the Arizona Cardinals will simply take the "Best Player Available" approach, and take either Ford or Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy with their first-round selection. The team may opt to take Derek Carr, but I expect them to take a quarterback in Day 2 and develop him behind Palmer for another season or two before making that leap.
The bigger need, and the better value, is at OLB/DE position at this point in the draft. John Abraham isn't the long-term answer across from Sam Acho, and the best way to help out a young defensive secondary is by adding a pass-rush. Ford would be a great fit for Arizona and would add a young, skilled pass rusher to the mix.
Ford finished with 10.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles in his senior year with the Tigers, and was considered by many scouts to be one of the defensive MVPs of the 2014 Senior Bowl this offseason. Ford is explosive off the edge, shows great energy, pursuit, and anticipation. He also has the athletic ability to fall back into pass coverage and be a suitable 3rd-down defensive end in some schemes.
The biggest knock on Ford is that at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, he is a little undersized. He did add over 50 pounds to his frame since his freshman year at Auburn, however. That shows he has the ability to add muscle to his frame, but he also isn't going to turn into a 6-foot-6, 300 pound monster defensive end either. Ford has also been dinged up in his college career, and received a medical redshirt in 2011 with a back injury. That isn't something teams like to mess around with, but Ford's rewards seem to outweigh the risks.
Round One Summary
|1||Houston Texans||Blake Bortles||QB||Central Florida|
|2||St. Louis Rams||Jadeveon Clowney||DE||South Carolina|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Khalil Mack||OLB||Buffalo|
|4||Cleveland Browns||Johnny Manziel||QB||Texas A&M|
|5||Oakland Raiders||Sammy Watkins||WR||Clemson|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||Greg Robinson||OT||Auburn|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Mike Evans||WR||Texas A&M|
|8||Minnesota Vikings||Teddy Bridgewater||QB||Louisville|
|9||Buffalo Bills||Jake Matthews||OT||Texas A&M|
|10||Detroit Lions||Justin Gilbert||CB||Oklahoma State|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Aaron Donald||DT||Pittsburgh|
|12||New York Giants||Eric Ebron||TE||North Carolina|
|13||St. Louis Rams||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||S||Alabama|
|14||Chicago Bears||Darqueze Dennard||CB||Michigan State|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||Anthony Barr||OLB||UCLA|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||Timmy Jernigan||DT||Florida State|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||Taylor Lewan||OT||Michigan|
|18||New York Jets||Odell Beckham, Jr.||WR||LSU|
|19||Miami Dolphins||Zack Martin||OT||Notre Dame|
|20||Arizona Cardinals||Dee Ford||DE/OLB||Auburn|
That wraps up week two of our mock draft. With the Packers on the clock next, you now have the entire weekend to discuss who Green Bay's pick should be in this scenario, so feel free to do so in the comments. Dan has the pick for the Packers on Monday.