Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Monday, April 25, 2011
Blogger mock: Von Miller to the Cardinals

By Mike Sando

Von Miller, Robert Quinn, J.J. Watt and Mark Ingram landed in the NFC West thanks to my shrewd maneuvering in ESPN.com's Blog Network mock draft for 2011.

I'm breaking out my selections on a team-by-team basis, with explanations that hopefully will invite your points and counterpoints. Running back Mark Ingram unexpectedly landed with Seattle at No. 25, while I sheepishly sent J.J. Watt to St. Louis at No. 14 and cautiously sent Robert Quinn to San Francisco at No. 7.

Let's conclude in reverse order, with the Arizona Cardinals at No. 5.

The selection: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

Off the board: Quarterbacks Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert; defensive lineman Marcell Dareus; and cornerback Patrick Peterson.

The thinking: Whew, finally a selection that didn't require 300 words of disclaimers, apologies and excuse-making. Miller heads into the draft as the most acclaimed pass-rusher available and a player the Cardinals could plug into their lineup quickly. Value, need and availability lined up better for this selection, at least based on available scouting reports, than they did for previously selections made for NFC West teams. That was natural given how early the Cardinals are selecting this year. Quarterback remains the team's No. 1 need, but there's no consensus this draft features even one true franchise quarterback, let alone enough for the Cardinals to find one after subtracting Newton and Gabbert from the equation. It's a big upset if the Cardinals pass on Miller to take anything other than a quarterback. Their need for outside pass-rush help appears greater than their needs beyond quarterback.

Odds of this happening: Decent shot. I'm at least as curious about whether Miller will be available at No. 5 than whether the Cardinals would select him there.