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Tuesday, March 13, 2012
From Cardinal to Cardinals?

By Kevin Gemmell

The Arizona Cardinals are one of the teams in hot pursuit of Peyton Manning, who of course is out in Indianapolis, paving the way for Stanford's Andrew Luck to be the No.1 pick in the NFL draft. Presumably.

That brings us to a rather ironic scenario: Could either Jonathan Martin or David DeCastro be blocking for Manning in Arizona just months after spending a collegiate career protecting Luck?

There are no guarantees that Manning ends up in Arizona. ESPN's Chris Mortensen has been all over Manning's travels and despite meeting with Arizona over the weekend, he has not engaged in contract negotiations with the Cardinals.

But a couple of Luck's old mates could be in line to join Arizona with that No. 13 pick in the NFL draft. Kevin Weidl writes on the Cardinals woes — and there is more to them than just quarterback. The first, and possibly the most pressing need, is on the offensive line, where either Martin — a left tackle at Stanford — or DeCastro — a guard — could get scooped up with lucky 13.
Weidl on Martin: Martin needs some added strength and polish, but he has left-tackle feet and the mentality for the position. He's fallen down our board a bit in recent weeks after a somewhat underwhelming film study, but positional value always pushes tackle prospects up the board...

On DeCastro: He can move defenders off the ball, and is the kind of plug-and-play prospect who could be a Cardinals mainstay for the next decade.

Both players had spectacular careers at Stanford and most mock drafts have both of them going in the first round. It's just a question of which one is going first and which teams have the biggest position needs. It seems like more questions are surfacing about Martin in recent weeks and whether he's cut out to be an NFL left tackle. In fact, ESPN's Mel Kiper didn't even include Martin in his mock draft last week. DeCastro's stock, however, has been on the rise and he's clearly established himself as the top interior lineman in the draft.

Earlier this month, Stanford coach David Shaw went into great detail about the significance of replacing two all-conference players on the offensive line and who some of the candidates are. The Cardinal also bring in the nation's top offensive line recruiting class — which will surely affect competition for one or both of those spots in 2012.

It's also worth watching the video that accompanies the linked-story as the First Take crew discuss the Washington Redskins' move to No. 2 in the draft — presumably to take Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Though an interesting theory is thrown out there that the Redskins are moving into position to draft Luck at No. 2 when Indianapolis takes Griffin No. 1 overall. Anyone else buying that?