- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Mel Kiper Jr. is back with his third 2013 NFL mock draft for the first round.
Our run through projected picks for NFC West teams concludes with a look at the Arizona Cardinals, who hold the seventh overall choice.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Kiper's give: What stands out with Smith is his ball placement -- he can be extremely accurate when he's making the right reads, something he did often in 2012. Arm strength is good, not elite, and you can certainly contend that any good QB might put up good numbers in the system he was in, and with the receivers he had. It's not a great value on my board, but it's a major need pick. Smith's pro day is Thursday, and you can be certain the Cardinals will be present.
Sando's take: Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher was the projection in Kiper's previous mock. While no one could fault Arizona for taking a tackle early, the team's options at the position are much better than they were in September. Levi Brown is returning from injury. Nate Potter and Bobby Massie improved over the course of the season. Quarterback is clearly the No. 1 need and that isn't going to change before the draft, most likely. Kevin Kolb's release appears likely in the absence of a reworked contract. Ryan Fitzpatrick is available. Matt Cassel could become an option. Free agent Drew Stanton has ties to new Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. None of those veterans would preclude Arizona from drafting a quarterback early. The question is really whether Smith projects as a franchise quarterback. Yes, the rookie wage scale diminishes the risk associated with taking a quarterback so early. That is no reason to force the pick, however.