The Arizona Cardinals have one pick to make in the 2nd round of the 2017 NFL Draft. They’ll have plenty of great options.
General manager Steve Keim is less than three weeks away from bringing in a new draft class to the Arizona Cardinals organization. It’s an exciting time for fans just like it is for the team. Keim has a number of options he can go in the first round. Will he target the future at quarterback and eventual successor to Carson Palmer? How about a running mate alongside Patrick Peterson? Better yet, a new receiver to follow in the footsteps of eventual hall-of-fame wideout Larry Fitzgerald?
Whatever he does it’ll shape what happens in round two. Taking Deshaun Watson at 13th overall could force Keim’s hand into honing in on a new target in the second round. A cornerback in Round 1 could mean he’s comfortable waiting until the 2nd day for someone like Davis Webb, Brad Kaaya or DeShone Kizer.
Though it’s dependent upon the first round, let’s take a look at five possible second-round targets for the Arizona Cardinals.
Oct 1, 2016; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Desmond King (14) returns a punt against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first quarter at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
5. Desmond King, CB/S – Iowa
It was a tough offseason seeing both Tony Jefferson and DJ Swearinger leave Glendale for bigger contracts. While both earned it, Keim now has to find a replacement for both of them. One piece was added with Antoine Bethea. But at 32 years of age he’s only got one or two years left of productivity.
Keim needs that versatile piece in his secondary to help in any way possible. Desmond King had a historic career at Iowa, winning the Jim Thorpe Award his junior season while leading the Hawkeye defense to a Rose Bowl bid. Iowa struggled in 2016, but it wasn’t because of King. He followed up his junior year of picking off eight passes (tied with the great Nile Kinnick in Iowa history) with three more as a senior. Throughout his tenure he had 14 interceptions, good for fourth on the Iowa all-time list.
King was a ballhawk for the Hawkeye defense, but he was just as valuable in the run game. He finished his career with 263 tackles, 174 of which were solo. With the versatility to play corner or safety, King would be a solid fit for Keim in Arizona.
Sep 17, 2016; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels tight end Evan Engram (17) runs the ball during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Alabama won 48-43. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
4. Evan Engram, TE – Ole Miss
The tight end position is one of the strongest groups in this years draft. It’s one of the strongest classes in most recent years. And Evan Engram is on the fringe of being the best. O.J. Howard and David Njoku are clear-cut Round 1 options. Either could easily be top-20 selections. Engram could make his way into the first round, too, given a team at the tail end of the round falls in love with him.
I think the former Ole Miss Rebel falls to Round 2, though, and will be available at 45th overall. He finished his career with 162 catches for 2,320 yards and 15 touchdowns. He really came onto the scene this past season catching 65 passes for 926 yards and eight touchdowns.
Engram is going to be a force at the next level playing out of the slot. At just 234 pounds, he’s a bit undersized. He needs to bulk up and learn to be a better blocker in the NFL, but he’d have an opportunity to learn from Jermaine Gresham.
3. Zay Jones, WR – East Carolina
What are the Cardinals going to do once Larry Fitzgerald retires? Keim is lucky he didn’t retire after the 2016 season, otherwise Arizona would be in trouble come next fall.
Wide receiver is a top priority in the 2017 NFL Draft. Fitzgerald might still be productive, but he’ll be sitting next to his eventual replacement in film study come training camp. While there a couple great options in the first round in Mike Williams and Corey Davis, Zay Jones is a great option in Round 2.
The all-time career leader in receptions in FBS history, Jones grabbed the attention of scouts and experts throughout the Reese’s Senior Bowl. He had two touchdowns, one of which was called out of bounds and another called back due to a penalty. He showed up against the draft’s top senior defenders and made them look amateur all week long.
Jones’ 158 catches in 2016 alone catapulted him into draft discussions. The strong Senior Bowl along with a 4.45-second 40-yard dash and 133-inch broad jump have solidified him as a second-round lock and possible first-round surprise. He’s a solid, safe pick for Keim at 45th overall.
This is a matter of does Keim pull the trigger strictly on what Sidney Jones could be in the future, or does he pass due to the torn achilles he suffered during his pro day.
The Cardinals secondary last year was less-than adequate when you look at who played across from Patrick Peterson. Looking to 2017, things look no different with running back-turned cornerback Brandon Williams currently slated to play second fiddle to Peterson next season. But that may be Keim’s plan. After all, he drafted Williams in the third round of last years draft.
It’s unlikely that Jones steps on the field prior to the end of the 2017 NFL season. Actually, it’d be nothing short of a miracle. He may be healed by the end of the season, but there wouldn’t be a chance he’s in game shape both physically and mentally. That’d be the issue at hand for Arizona heading into the season. Keim would have to feel comfortable as far as job security goes to pull this move off (this high) for a player that won’t play this next season.
But if Jones can come back in 2018 and be who everyone thinks he can be, then the Cardinals get a steal.
1. Davis Webb, QB – California
Ah, the quarterback question everyone wants an answer to. Does Arizona take one in the first round? Maybe. A first-round quarterback has more pressure on him than anyone in the league. A second-round quarterback, though, some people forget and move on from a lot quicker.
If Keim does go quarterback in Round 1, then he’ll have pressure lifted off his shoulder, at least for his rookie season. I, however, believe there’s bigger holes that can be filled with safer picks in the first.
That’s why Davis Webb is a great choice in the second round. A big quarterback that fits the mold that Arians loves, Webb needs time to learn behind a professional like Carson Palmer. Replaced by Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech, he only has one full season of play under his belt in three years and that was with the Cal Bears this past fall.
Luckily the pressure wasn’t too much taking over for the 1st overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Jared Goff. Webb passed for over 4,200 yards and 37 touchdowns this past year providing little drop off at the quarterback position. Webb says he can throw the football 75 yards with ease (per Bleacher Report). Players like John Brown, JJ Nelson and Andre Ellington would love to have Webb throwing them the ball one Palmer retires.