Path to the Draft: Edge Rusher
If you have stuck with me through the last two installments, we took a look at a number of guys at each position that could be selected by the Cardinals sometime in the draft. This week we examine the outside pass rusher that many expect Arizona to take early. After an offensive heavy free agency, the Cardinals could very well go defensive heavy in this upcoming draft, with that being the strongest side of the ball with this class. Without further ado, let us take a look at the top three outside line backers that could, realistically, fall into the Cardinals lap.
Anthony Barr:Barr started his collegiate career as a runningback and pistol fullback for UCLA, before making the transition to outside backer in his junior season. The impact was instantaneous as he racked up 83 tackles, 21.5 for a loss, and 13.5 sacks. His senior season, his numbers dropped off a little, 66 tackles, 20 for a loss, 10 sacks, and three interceptions. Barr used to be a surefire top 10 selection in this upcoming draft, however Khalil Mack and Dee Ford have found their way into the fray for the first outside rusher to go from the board, dropping Barr’s draft value a little. One of the things that hurts Barr’s draft value is his inability to escape or control a blocker. He does however, have the ability to push a tackle back into his quarterback, with his speed and his ability to drop beneath the pads. He is still the number one rusher on my board, but I thoroughly expect him to fall out of the top 10. (Grade:5/5)
Dee Ford:Ford could very well make that transition to a 4-3 defensive end, as he plays at his best when he’s in the three technique. He lacks the strength the be a constant factor in the run game, something that can be addressed in the weight room. He has good change of direction and ability to bend around the edges. He will launch himself to make a tackle, which shows his willingness to make the play. Picked up 10.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss in his senior season with the Auburn Tigers. (Grade:4/5)
Kyle Van Noy: Noy was a three year starter with BYU. During his three years starting, he accumulated 188 tackles, 54.5 tackles for a loss, and 24 sacks. Watching him, he never appears to take a playoff, and is always around the ball. He is projected to play as a 4-3 Sam backer (strong side), which means a move to a 3-4 Defensive end could be in the works. He offers coverage ability, which Arizona desperately needs, pursues along the correct angles, and adds versatility to special teams. His weakness is in his core strength, and sometimes misreading the ball carriers angles, meaning he will get on the blockers right shoulder, allowing the ball carrier to bounce to the outside. (Grade:4/5)
Looking at this draft, the defensive side of the ball is definitely the most talented part of this class. While there may not be loads of All-Stars or Hall of Famers, this class is certainly a talented batch, and a lot of these players will likely be productive members in the NFL. To wrap up the series, we will look at later round quarterbacks that Arizona could take, seeing as a first or second round selection seems highly unlikely.
1- Developemental Player w/ High ceiling
2- Late round pick can contribute on the field on special teams
3- Mid-Late round pick can come in on a situational basis
4- Day one starter, but will have obvious growing pains
5- Day one stater, most NFL ready, minimal growing pains