Saturday, April 13, 2013
Kiper mock 4.0: Cardinals thoughts
By Mike Sando
Our look at Mel Kiper Jr.'s fourth 2013 mock draft continues with projections for the Arizona Cardinals.
We previously considered projections for San Francisco and St. Louis. The Seattle Seahawks do not have a first-round choice. They do have a second-rounder, however. Back in a bit with some thoughts on options with that selection.
7. Eric Fisher, T, Central Michigan
Kiper's give: It's true the Cardinals saw their offensive line improve over the second half of 2012. But they also just acquired Carson Palmer, who has all the maneuverability of a Brink's truck. They need to be able to form a pocket on a consistent basis in 2013, and that means even if Fisher is off the board here, they could still look to a tackle such as Lane Johnson. They also have a need at guard, so the presence of Fisher could allow them to move someone inside. Yes, they have other needs, but keeping Palmer upright should be the top priority.
Sando's take: Kiper is right about Palmer lacking mobility. However, mobility is not a prerequisite for avoiding sacks. Palmer ranked seventh among qualifying quarterbacks last season in sacks per drop-back. Palmer has shown he'll risk interceptions to get the ball out before pressure arrives.
This is the second time in four mocks Kiper has sent Fisher to the Cardinals at No. 7. It's the third time in four mocks Kiper has projected an offensive lineman to Arizona. Guard Chance Warmack was the projection in Kiper's initial mock for 2013. Quarterback Geno Smith, Kiper's much-debated choice for Arizona in his third mock, went fourth to Philadelphia in this one. He wasn't going to be a consideration this time, anyway, after the Cardinals acquired Palmer from the Oakland Raiders. Warmack was available this time, but Kiper went with the tackle instead.
Teams traditionally value tackles more than they value guards. The Cardinals arguably have a greater need at guard than at tackle, particularly if coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim are right in their public comments about the state of the line.
Arians has called incumbent left tackle Levi Brown an "elite" player at the position. Keim has suggested Bobby Massie could take another step forward at right tackle after improving significantly in the role as a rookie in 2012. As we discussed Friday, drafting for the offensive line could represent the best value for Arizona even if perceptions about need are overstated.
Pass-rusher could be another logical consideration this early in the draft if the Cardinals have questions about O'Brien Schofield's durability and/or Sam Acho's long-term outlook. Ezekiel Ansah and Dion Jordan were not available at No. 7 in this Kiper mock. Barkevious Mingo (ninth) and Jarvis Jones (15th) went a bit later. We should remember that Arizona, despite not having a single elite outside rusher, ranked sixth last season in sacks per opponent drop-back.