Joe from Fort Collins, Colo., writes: Hey Mike, do you think the Arizona Cardinals should think about trading down from the No. 5 posititon if Blaine Gabbert and Patrick Peterson are both gone? I think it's too high for pass-rusher Von Miller, and the defensive linemen would be there between No.s 14 and 22. If they could, say, grab an extra third-round pick and drop down, I would do it. If Gabbert and Peterson are both there, grab the QB. Thanks!
Mike Sando: We'll want to see how a new labor agreement (if there is one) treats draft choices. A cap on top draft choices' salaries could affect how teams view those choices. Chatter about trading down is usually overrated because teams aren't excited about jumping into those premium-dollar slots. And when there are obvious top-five choices available, teams can be less eager to trade out of those spots.
In general, the Cardinals need difference-makers, so if they can get one of the five best players in the draft, they should do so. Gabbert would qualify as a difference-maker by the nature of his position, provided Arizona had him rated highly enough.
Pass-rushers are difference-makers, too, but you raise a good point. Teams have gotten productive pass-rush help outside the top five choices. No pass-rush types went among the top 12 choices in the 2010 NFL draft. Brandon Graham (13th), Jason Pierre-Paul (15th) and Derrick Morgan (16th) were the first defensive end/outside pass-rushers taken. Aaron Maybin, drafted 11th overall in 2009, was the first selected in his draft class. Chris Long went second overall in 2008 and Mario Williams was first overall in 2006, but they were very strong all-around prospects.
I don't see the value being there, necessarily, for the Cardinals at cornerback. That could change depending upon what new defensive coordinator Ray Horton wants for his defense relative to what Arizona already has on its roster. But with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie coming to Arizona as a first-round pick in recent seasons, the Cardinals would ideally target another position at No. 5 overall.
Also: Tony Softli's review on Peterson makes me think the Cardinals couldn't even think about passing on him, if they have a shot at him at all.