With the thirteenth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select…
13. Arizona Cardinals: Gareon Conley, CB | Ohio State
The Arizona Cardinals are far from the 13-3 team everyone saw make it to the 2016 NFC Championship game. The Cards were throttled 49-15 in that series against the Carolina Panthers and never seemed to recover. Arizona was a competitive team last season but finished with a 7-8-1 despite posting a top 10 offense and defense. So what went wrong?
For starters the offensive line was horrendous. To be fair it wasn’t so much the play of the offensive line as it was the injuries, which contributed to quarterback Carson Palmer getting sacked 40 times, second most in his 14 year career. Everyone coming back healthy should help keep Palmer upright and they’ll need to as the quarterback turns 38 at the end of the year. The Cardinals could address the elephant in the room and grab their quarterback of the future here at pick 13. If all of the top four QB prospects are still available at this point things could get interesting. An offensive lineman could be a safe pick such as guard Forrest Lamp of Western Kentucky. For as long as he remains on the board, tight end OJ Howard is always an option. With Larry Fitzgerald also returning for his 14th (and what many believe to be his final) season, as well as the release of former first round pick Michael Floyd, wide receiver also looks to be a need. A wideout such as Clemson’s Mike Williams or Western Michigan’s Corey Davis could fit in nicely and take over for the future first ballot hall of famer once he decides to call it a career.
Looking closely at the defense though, the Cardinals could use some depth on all three levels. After contributing next to nothing in his rookie year, Robert Nkemdiche is slated to step in at one of the starting defensive end spots alongside Rodney Gunter and with Corey Peters at nose tackle. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cardinals looked for a top defensive line prospect at this pick as they clearly need some depth. Calais Campbell is now in Jacksonville and free agent resignee Frostee Rucker will be 34 at the start of the season. At outside linebacker the Cards are set with Chandler Jones and Markus Golden who combined for 23.5 sacks last season. On the inside they have former first round pick Deone Bucannon and veteran Karlos Dansby, who is now on his third stint with the franchise. Perhaps linebacker Reuben Foster is an option if he’s still on the board. Then we look at the secondary where opposite Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals have a glaring hole at cornerback. Gareon Conley is quietly making his way up draft boards and after the injury to Sidney Jones is the third maybe even second best cornerback prospect. The draft is deep at corner but eventually there needs to be a run on them and so I have the Cardinals making a move. Conley had a solid collegial career for the Buckeyes and would make things very difficult for opposing quarterbacks to throw the ball when he and Peterson have each side of the field locked down and those outside linebackers are coming for ya.