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NFL Draft

Arizona Cardinals 7-Round Mock Draft: April Edition

  • The Draft Network
  • April 23, 2021
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I did not realize how dire the Arizona Cardinals’ draft situation was until I sat down to draft for them. With no third- or fourth-round selections (after the Rodney Hudson and DeAndre Hopkins trades, respectively), the Cardinals only have two picks in the top half of the entire draft. Both trades were worth it, in my estimation—but still, that’s a long wait.

As such, I’d like a trade-back approach from Arizona but rumors have the Cardinals sniffing around trade-ups, so it seems they’re really all in on the 2021 team, stocked with veterans, and ready to push in a dense NFC West. So, I went heavy on needs and drafted multi-year starters ready to contribute and push Arizona as far as quarterback Kyler Murray can take them in the upcoming season.

ROUND 1 (NO. 16 OVERALL): DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

I think that DeVonta Smith is a target for the Cardinals in a small trade-up, so getting him at No. 16 was an absolute steal. And why wouldn’t the Cardinals do this? I gave them Smith in my most recent seven-round mock, saying: “No team spent more time in four-wide-receiver sets than Arizona (20%) last season, and on the current depth chart, that grouping would see Hopkins joined by A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and Andy Isabella. That’s a concerning group without much playmaking ability or consistency, as the presence of slot machine Larry Fitzgerald is noticeably lacking.”

So add Smith, let him be a possession player, or if Arizona is worried about his frame over the middle, let him feast on swings and slants and give Kirk more possession routes. Regardless, Smith shores up the depth chart and has versatile usage projections, while also benefiting from the space afforded by the Kliff Kingsbury offense.

ROUND 2 (NO. 49 OVERALL): Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

Asante Samuel Jr. shouldn’t make it beyond the 30s, in my estimation of his film, so this is great value around pick No. 50. For the Cardinals, I’m not certain that Samuel is a perfect fit—they play a lot of man coverage, and Samuel is a better zone player—but it’s tough to turn down his blend of physicality, quickness, and vision as even a man cover defender from off-alignments. Samuel and Byron Murphy can also fight it out for starting outside/nickel roles, giving you some flexibility.

ROUND 5 (NO. 160 OVERALL): Trey Hill, IOL, Georgia

I wanted to get on guard with one of the first two picks for the Cardinals, but with Smith falling, concessions had to be made—not really, but I figure Kliff would run the Smith card to the podium, so there it is.) Trey Hill started at center and guard across a long Georgia career and plays with a ton of stopping power, which should play nicely next to new addition Hudson at the pivot. The Cardinals suffered from quick interior pressures last year, so adding big bodies at center and guard should seem a priority.

ROUND 6 (NO. 223 OVERALL): Avery Williams, CB, Boise State

Everyone loves the idea of Avery Williams as a Day 3 target, so I got it done when I saw him laboring on the board in Round 6. The Cardinals should be set at outside corner with Samuel from earlier in the draft, but in that Murphy and Robert Alford are their main backups, help is needed on the depth chart. Williams offers slot ability, which should allow Murphy to kick outside if needed, but some teams view Williams as a convert for the offensive side of the ball. I trust Kingsbury to get him some creative touches, while also seeing value from Williams on kick return opportunities.

ROUND 7 (NO. 243 OVERALL): Matt Bushman, TE, BYU

Matt Bushman is the forgotten man of the tight end class, but the Cardinals are happy to get his in-line experience and vertical receiving ability late on Day 3. An Achilles tendon injury kept him out of 2020 play, and the BYU offense certainly didn’t suffer for his loss; but in 2019, Bushman was one of the feature aspects of the Cougars’ passing game. After losing Dan Arnold, the Cardinals could use more depth at the position.

ROUND 7 (NO. 247 OVERALL): Buddy Johnson, LB, Texas A&M

I love Buddy Johnson as a Day 3 target for most teams. For the Cardinals, who have a clear 1-2 punch in Jordan Hicks and Isaiah Simmons for the next few years but little depth, a player with Johnson’s athleticism and starting background is enticing. He’s on the smaller side, but if forced into playing time, has NFL levels of physicality and range from the stack linebacker position. Meanwhile, the Cardinals can train him to play in more coverage roles as a weakside linebacker behind their starting two.

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