NEW YORK - APRIL 22: Dan Williams from the Tennessee Volunteers poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as they hold up a Arizona Carinals jersey after Williams was selected number 26 overall by the Cardinals during the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The Mock Draft Projections Are All In, Will They Measure Up To The Real Thing?

Draft talk is all we have with the lockout.

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How Will All those Mock Drafts Measure Up To Draft Day?

The 2011 NFL Draft is about to begin and all the mock draft projections are in. Mike Mayock, Mel Kiper, Todd McShay and many others have made their picks. We get to see how credible or how crazy they all were. In particular, the Cardinals have had a few players connected to them for this year's draft with their number five pick overall. 

At the start of most projections months ago, Von Miller was the prohibitive favorite. Since then, his stock has risen and he is seen as a lock for the Denver Broncos at number two. Here is a rundown of the existing mocks and their picks for the Cardinals. 

Todd McShay mock draft: In the most surprising pick of all of them, he has Missouri's Aldon Smith coming to the Cardinals.

Mel Kiper mock draft: He projects that the Cardinals will get LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson

NFL.com mock drafts: The NFL Network analysts and NFL.com writers are split here four to two. Four project Peterson and two say that the Cardinals will take Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert

SB Nation Arizona mock draft: The writers collaborated and projected that Peterson will go to the Cards

SB Nation mock draft: Patrick Peterson is the guy again

I think it's pretty clear who is not the favorite. But we can't rule out a trade. Rod Graves himself brought up the idea. If that happens, the mock drafts get blown up. 

We will soon see the real thing. Keep posted!

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It's Draft Day! We Have Your Complete 2011 NFL Draft Order

It has arrived. The 2011 NFL Draft is tonight! The Arizona Cardinals have the fifth pick tonight and hope to either draft a player that can impact the team in a positive way for many years or make a trade to move down and obtain more than one of such players.

Other burning questions in the draft are how many QBs are taken in the first round, will Cam Newton be the number one pick overall? Will Bill Belichick move around in the draft as they like to do every year? Tonight, Friday night and Saturday, all these questions will be answered.

Here is the complete order of the 2011 NFL Draft:

Thursday Night:

Round One 

1 (1) Carolina
2 (2) Denver
3 (3) Buffalo
4 (4) Cincinnati
5 (5) Arizona
6 (6) Cleveland
7 (7) San Francisco
8 (8) Tennessee
9 (9) Dallas
10 (10) Washington
11 (11) Houston
12 (12) Minnesota
13 (13) Detroit
14 (14) St. Louis
15 (15) Miami
16 (16) Jacksonville
17 (17) New England from Oakland
18 (18) San Diego
19 (19) New York Giants
20 (20) Tampa Bay
21 (21) Kansas City
22 (22) Indianapolis
23 (23) Philadelphia
24 (24) New Orleans
25 (25) Seattle
26 (26) Baltimore
27 (27) Atlanta
28 (28) New England
29 (29) Chicago
30 (30) New York Jets
31 (31) Pittsburgh
32 (32) Green Bay

Friday night:

Round Two 

1 (33) New England from Carolina
2 (34) Buffalo
3 (35) Cincinnati
4 (36) Denver
5 (37) Cleveland
6 (38) Arizona
7 (39) Tennessee
8 (30) Dallas
9 (41) Washington
10 (42) Houston
11 (43) Minnesota
12 (44) Detroit
13 (45) San Francisco
14 (46) Denver from Miami
15 (47) St. Louis
16 (48) Oakland
17 (49) Jacksonville
18 (50) San Diego
19 (51) Tampa Bay
20 (52) New York Giants
21 (53) Indianapolis
22 (54) Philadelphia
23 (55) Kansas City
24 (56) New Orleans
25 (57) Seattle
26 (58) Baltimore
27 (59) Atlanta
28 (60) New England
29 (61) San Diego from New York Jets
30 (62) Chicago
31 (63) Pittsburgh
32 (64) Green Bay

Round Three

1 (65) Carolina
2 (66) Cincinnati
3 (67) Denver
4 (68) Buffalo
5 (69) Arizona
6 (70) Cleveland
7 (71) Dallas
8 (72) New Orleans from Washington
9 (73) Houston
10 (74) New England from Minnesota
11 (75) Detroit
12 (76) San Francisco
13 (77) Tennessee
14 (78) St. Louis
15 (79) Miami
16 (80) Jacksonville
17 (81) Oakland
18 (82) San Diego
19 (83) New York Giants
20 (84) Tampa Bay
21 (85) Philadelphia
22 (86) Kansas City
23 (87) Indianapolis
24 (88) New Orleans
25 (89) San Diego from Seattle
26 (90) Baltimore
27 (91) Atlanta
28 (92) New England
29 (93) Chicago
30 (94) New York Jets
31 (95) Pittsburgh
32 (96) Green Bay
33 (97) Carolina (compensatory selection)

Saturday:

Round Four

1 (98) Carolina
2 (99) Seattle from Denver through New England
3 (100) Buffalo
4 (101) Cincinnati
5 (102) Cleveland
6 (103) Arizona
7 (104) Philadelphia from Washington
8 (105) Houston
9 (106) Minnesota
10 (107) Detroit
11 (108) San Francisco
12 (109) Tennessee
13 (110) Dallas
14 (111) Miami
15 (112) St. Louis
16 (113) Oakland
17 (114) Jacksonville
18 (115) San Francisco from San Diego
19 (116) Tampa Bay
20 (117) New York Giants
21 (118) Kansas City
22 (119) Indianapolis
23 (120) Philadelphia
24 (121) Jacksonville from New Orleans
25 (122) Buffalo from Seattle
26 (123) Baltimore
27 (124) Atlanta
28 (125) New England
29 (126) New York Jets
30 (127) Chicago
31 (128) Pittsburgh
32 (129) Green Bay
33 (130) Tennessee (compensatory selection)
34 (131) Green Bay (compensatory selection)

Round Five

1 (132) Carolina
2 (133) Buffalo
3 (134) Cincinnati
4 (135) Kansas City from Denver through Tampa Bay
5 (136) Arizona
6 (137) Cleveland
7 (138) Houston
8 (139) Minnesota
9 (140) Kansas City from Detroit
10 (141) San Francisco
11 (142) Tennessee
12 (143) Dallas
13 (144) Washington
14 (145) St. Louis
15 (146) Miami
16 (147) Jacksonville
17 (148) Oakland
18 (149) Philadelphia from San Diego
19 (150) Minnesota from New York Giants
20 (151) Tampa Bay
21 (152) Indianapolis
22 (153) Philadelphia
23 (154) Detroit from Kansas City
24 (155) Washington from New Orleans
25 (156) Seattle
26 (157) Seattle from Baltimore
27 (158) Atlanta
28 (159) New England
29 (160) Chicago
30 (161) New York Jets
31 (162) Pittsburgh
32 (163) Green Bay
33 (164) Baltimore (compensatory selection)
34 (165) Baltimore (compensatory selection)

Round Six

1 (166) Carolina
2 (167) Cincinnati
3 (168) Cleveland from Denver
4 (169) Buffalo
5 (170) Cleveland
6 (171) Arizona
7 (172) Minnesota
8 (173) Seattle from Detroit
9 (174) San Francisco
10 (175) Tennessee
11 (176) Dallas
12 (177) Washington
13 (178) Houston
14 (179) Miami
15 (180) Baltimore from St. Louis
16 (181) Oakland
17 (182) Jacksonville
18 (183) San Diego
19 (184) Arizona from Tampa Bay through Philadelphia
20 (185) New York Giants
21 (186) Denver from Philadelphia through Detroit
22 (187) Tampa Bay from Kansas City
23 (188) Indianapolis
24 (189) Denver from New Orleans through New England
25 (190) San Francisco from Seattle
26 (191) Baltimore
27 (192) Atlanta
28 (193) New England
29 (194) New York Jets
30 (195) Chicago
31 (196) Pittsburgh
32 (197) Green Bay
33 (198) New York Giants (compensatory selection)
34 (199) Kansas City (compensatory selection)
35 (200) Minnesota (compensatory selection)
36 (201) San Diego (compensatory selection)
37 (202) New York Giants (compensatory selection)
38 (203) Carolina (compensatory selection)

Round Seven

1 (204) Green Bay from Carolina
2 (205) Detroit from Denver
3 (206) Buffalo
4 (207) Cincinnati
5 (208) New York Jets from Arizona
6 (209) Seattle from Cleveland
7 (210) Atlanta from Detroit
8 (211) San Francisco
9 (212) Tennessee
10 (---) Dallas (exercised in 2010 Supplemental Draft)
11 (213) Washington
12 (214) Houston
13 (215) Minnesota
14 (216) St. Louis
15 (217) Miami
16 (218) Miami from Jacksonville
17 (219) Oakland
18 (220) Dallas from San Diego
19 (221) New York Giants
20 (222) Tampa Bay
21 (223) Kansas City
22 (224) Washington from Indianapolis
23 (225) Baltimore from Philadelphia
24 (226) New Orleans
25 (227) Philadelphia from Seattle
26 (228) St. Louis from Baltimore
27 (229) Atlanta
28 (230) Atlanta from New England
29 (---) Chicago (exercised in 2010 Supplemental Draft)
30 (231) San Francisco from New York Jets through Detroit
31 (232) Pittsburgh
32 (233) Green Bay
33 (234) San Diego (compensatory selection)
34 (235) Miami (compensatory selection)
35 (236) Minnesota (compensatory selection)
36 (237) Philadelphia (compensatory selection)
37 (238) Tampa Bay (compensatory selection)
38 (239) San Francisco (compensatory selection)
39 (240) Philadelphia (compensatory selection)
40 (241) Oakland (compensatory selection)
41 (242) Seattle (compensatory selection)
42 (243) New Orleans (compensatory selection)
43 (244) Carolina (compensatory selection)
44 (245) Buffalo (compensatory selection)
45 (246) Cincinnati (compensatory selection)
46 (247) Denver (compensatory selection)
47 (248) Cleveland (compensatory selection)
48 (249) Arizona (compensatory selection)
49 (250) San Francisco (compensatory selection)
50 (251) Tennessee (compensatory selection)
51 (252) Dallas (compensatory selection)
52 (253) Washington (compensatory selection)
53 (254) Houston (compensatory selection)

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 5 p.m. (AZT) on Thursday, April 28, and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare: NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft schedule and more. Check it out at SB Nation's NFL Draft page and our NFL Draft blog, Mocking the Draft or for Cardinals coverage, visit Revenge of the Birds.

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Mel Kiper's Final 2011 NFL Mock Draft Reveals Draft Day Surprises

On the eve of the 2011 NFL Draft, Mel Kiper came out with his final mock projections. Kiper has said that this draft is going to be unpredictable and unique -- not only because of the labor battle that is currently waging, but also because there's a lot of talent on the board.

Kiper's full mock draft can only be seen by ESPN Insiders, but the top five picks are available to the public. Here's how the NFL Draft will start off tomorrow, according to Kiper:

1. Cam Newton to the Carolina Panthers

2. Von Miller to the Denver Broncos

3. Marcell Dareus to the Buffalo Bills

4. A.J. Green to the Cincinnati Bengals

5. Patrick Peterson to the Arizona Cardinals

For those without Insider access, Kiper has made a few other interesting selections: he has Blaine Gabbert going 7th overall to the San Francisco 49ers, Jake Locker going 12th to the Minnesota Vikings, and Prince Amukamara falling all the way to 20th overall, getting drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Time will tell if these picks are accurate; it only takes one unusual pick to set off a chain reaction in the NFL Draft. Could Arizona trade its 5th pick for Kevin Kolb? Anything is still possible with 23 hours until the draft officially begins.

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Mel Kiper's Final 2011 NFL Big Draft Board Shakes Things Up

Mel Kiper is one of the acknowledged media experts when it comes to the NFL Draft. Kiper's Big Board is the gold standard when it comes to ranking the players who will likely be drafted in just over 24 hours from now. This isn't a mock draft in the sense that Kiper isn't projecting what teams will do which is based on need and other factors. The Big Board simply ranks the prospects based on Kiper's opinion of their potential value as NFL players.

The number one slot in Kiper's Big Board stays with CB Patrick Peterson. "An extraordinary athlete, Peterson has 4.3-second 40 speed, safety size, good cover skills and a willingness to hit. Big threat in return game." -- is the analysis.

The second slot on the board goes to LB Von Miller.  "Miller can impact NFL games early in his career as a pass-rushing 3-4 outside linebacker, but he also has coverage skills. Heady, big-time athlete."

Both Miller and Peterson are, however, projected to be available to the Arizona Cardinals when they are on the clock Thursday with the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft. That assumes, of course, that the Cardinals don't trade down.

The big shake up in the final edition of Kiper's Big Board is DT Nick Fairley dropping to the no. 5 spot and DE Marcell Dareus moving up from no. 4. Cam Newton remains at the no. 15 spot behind the first quarterback on the Big Board, no. 14, Blaine Gabbert. Most mock drafts and even the Vegas odds, have Newton going first in the draft to the Carolina Panthers.

Prince Amukamara, who's from Glendale, AZ, is no. 9 on Kiper's final Big Board. 

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 5 p.m. (AZT) on Thursday, April 28, and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare: NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft schedule and more. Check it out at SB Nation's NFL Draft page and our NFL Draft blog, Mocking the Draft or for Cardinals coverage, visit Revenge of the Birds.

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NFL Draft: Von Miller And Patrick Peterson Share Thoughts On Draft Disappointments

SB Nation's Mocking the Draft blog, had the opportunity recently to speak with many of the prospects who will likely be selected in Thursday's NFL Draft. Included in the media availability that was part of the NFL's Play 60 event were Patrick Peterson and Von Miller. Both guys are frequently listed on Mock Draft boards as going to the Arizona Cardinals with their 5th pick. Cam Newton was at the event as well, but mysteriously was not made available for questions. 

Von Miller told of being in the courtroom when the recent Brady v. NFL case was announced. Miller is the only rookie listed as a plaintiff in the case. He said the decision gave him "goosebumps". Miller is obviously a Dallas Cowboys fan. He said he wouldn't be disappointed not to go in the top five as long as the Cowboys took him at no. 9. If Dallas passes on him, he wants the Redskins to take him at no. 10 so he can "beat up on" the Cowboys twice per season for passing on him.

Patrick Peterson, the star cornerback from LSU, said he models his "swag" after Deion Sanders. As good as he might be, that kind of "swag" likely wouldn't go over very well with coach Ken "Plain Vanilla" Whisenhunt. Peterson said he would not be disappointed if he were not picked first in the NFL Draft. No word if he would be disappointed at coming to the Cardinals.

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Patrick Peterson prepares to answer media questions. Photo by Mocking the Draft.

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NFL Draft Trade Rumor Update: Adam Schefter Reports On Cardinals Trading Down

We've heard for a few days now that the Cardinals were fielding calls from teams interested in moving up to get Arizona's fifth overall pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. A team source recently acknowledged that general manager Rod Graves was expecting even more calls as Thursday's draft day approaches. Wednesday morning, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter added to the speculation with additional trade rumor from sources outside Arizona.

Schefter posted a tweet in which he stated that, "one team believes Arizona now will consider trading back from No. 5." No specific team was mentioned but various sources around the internet have speculated that that Dallas Cowboys could be interested in moving up to nab cornerback Patrick Peterson. Dallas currently has the ninth overall pick in the NFL Draft and could offer the Cardinals an additional second round pick for the right to move up four places.

The Washington Redskins have also been floated as a team that might be interested in moving up from their tenth spot to grab quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The Redskins quarterback situation is just as messy as the Arizona Cardinals.

Graves recently left the door open to a possible trade when he told the Arizona Republic that nothing was off the table.

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 5 p.m. (AZT) on Thursday, April 28, and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare: NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft schedule and more. Check it out at SB Nation's NFL Draft page and our NFL Draft blog, Mocking the Draft or for Cardinals coverage, visit Revenge of the Birds.

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NFL Draft Trade Rumors: Peter King Reports On Possible Cardinals Trade With Cowboys

The NFL lockout is lifted by court ruling which has thrown the entire league into lawless chaos. Players are visiting team facilities only to be told they can't actually workout and no one really knows what's going on. Meanwhile, the 2011 NFL Draft is just days away and the trade rumors are starting to heat up. The Arizona Cardinals have the fifth overall pick in the draft's first round and certainly their phones must be ringing off the hook with offers from teams wanting to move up.

What's less clear is what the Cardinals or any of the other top teams will actually do. Why ruin the draft day surprise and take away from the NFL's last big chance to get the full attention of the sports world until their labor issues are fully resolved. With no CBA in place it had been assumed that players couldn't be traded as part of the typical draft day fun, but now that Judge Susan Nelson has lifted the lockout with a stroke of her pen it's not at all clear that rule still applies.

This leaves teams like the Cardinals scrambling to evaluate the situation and make last minute contingency plans. Perhaps they really can trade that fifth pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Kevin Kolb as had been rumored weeks ago. A deal like that would give coach Ken Whisenhunt the quarterback he needs without having to deal with another rookie under center.

Arizona Republic beat writer Kent Somers, however, thinks the Cardinals won't draft a quarterback at all and is picking cornerback Patrick Peterson in his mock drafts but also thinks it could be defensive end Robert Quinn if the Cardinals don't trade their pick.

Somers also relayed a Peter King report that the Cardinals "considered moving up in last year's draft to take receiver Dez Bryant." Last year the Cardinals had the 26th pick and took tackle Dan Williams while Bryant went to Dallas with their 24th pick. It's not clear what the Cardinals would have had to give up to move two places forward in the draft.

With so much more on the line in the 2011 NFL Draft and all the uncertainty resulting from the labor situation, don't be surprised if we see a lot of movement on draft day.

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 5 p.m. (AZT) on Thursday, April 28, and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare: NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft schedule and more. Check it out at SB Nation's NFL Draft page and our NFL Draft blog, Mocking the Draft or for Cardinals coverage, visit Revenge of the Birds.

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NFL Draft Trade Rumors: Dallas Cowboys Could Swap Picks With AZ Cardinals To Get Patrick Peterson

The 2011 NFL Draft is just a couple of days away and not surprisingly we are starting to see rumors about teams making trades. As a reminder, due to the on-going labor dispute between the billionaire owners and the poor, deprived players there won't be any trades involving players. There will however, be trades involving picks and one of the first rumors we see about such a deal involves the Arizona Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys.

SB Nation's mock draft experts believe that the Cowboys will swap their ninth pick with the Cardinals and move up to draft CB Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals would get both the Cowboys ninth pick along with their second-round pick which is the 40th overall. The Cowboys get the Cardinals 2012 third-round pick in this scenario as well.

With the ninth pick, this mock draft has Cardinals taking OT Tyron Smith from USC.

After moving down from No. 5, the Cardinals missed out on quality at the rush linebacker position, but can address that area with one of their two second-round picks. Smith is a potentially elite left tackle prospect, and OT is a really underrated need for the Cardinals. 

There's no question that the offensive line is a need for the Cardinals and there's a certain appeal to this trade rumor. We'll find out Thursday what actually happens.

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 5 p.m. (AZT) on Thursday, April 28, and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare: NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft schedule and more. Check it out at SB Nation's NFL Draft page and our NFL Draft blog, Mocking the Draft or for Cardinals coverage, visit Revenge of the Birds.

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NFL Draft 2011: AJ Green Could Be In Play For Arizona Cardinals

Just last week, Peter King from SI.com released a mock draft that had the Cardinals drafting a player that had not come up in hardly any previous projections. He had the Cardinals taking Georgia receiver A.J. Green with the fifth pick overall, even with Patrick Peterson available. 

This was not just a random pick, even though there is some sense to it. Peter King was using previous Cardinals draft information to make this projection. In his latest column, King explains that the Cardinals tried to trade up in last year's draft. 

The target was wide receiver Dez Bryant, who ended up being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. At that time, Anquan Boldin had been traded, but the team was still pretty set at receiver, as both Steve Breaston and Early Doucet were still under contract. 

This year, most believe that there is not way that the Cardinals would draft a receiver in the first round. But if they were willing to do it last year when they had the necessary depth, why would they not look at that position now? Now their situation is a bit tenuous, as both Breaston and Doucet are not under contract for the 2011 season.

Do I think that receiver is a priority? No. I believe that defense is priority number one for them at the top of the draft. however, if their favorite players are already gone at number five, I would not be shocked and I would be very happy to welcome A.J. Green to the Cardinals fold.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Latest Projections Have Arizona Cardinals Trading Down

The 2011 NFL is this week. Aside from a possible lifting of the lockout (which is likely going to happen, but have a stay, causing no changes), it is the only NFL talk to be had. SB Nation has completed their second to last mock draft projections for the first round and has even projected some trades. 

The Arizona Cardinals are projected to be one of these trade players. Von Miller is coming off the board at number three, so the Cardinals move down by making a trade with the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys do this to take cornerback Patrick Peterson. Arizona takes Dallas' number nine pick, picks up their second round selection (number 40) and they commit their 2012 third round pick to the Cowboys.

With the number nine pick, the Cardinals go for an improvement on the offensive line and take offensive tackle Tyron Smith out of USC. Here is the explanation:

After moving down from No. 5, the Cardinals missed out on quality at the rush linebacker position, but can address that area with one of their two second-round picks. Smith is a potentially elite left tackle prospect, and OT is a really underrated need for the Cardinals.

I would say that OT is more than an underrated need.

This could be a very good pick. Potentially, this could allow Levi Brown to move back to right tackle or inside to guard (if the coaches still want Brandon Keith on the right side). Picking up another second round pick can either fill another need or allow them perhaps to move back into the first round to select a player they really want here in the desert.

Will the Cardinals move down? The last time it happened was disappointing. If it happens this time, let us hope the results are different. 

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 8 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, April 28, and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare: NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft schedule and more. Check it out at SB Nation's NFL Draft page and our NFL Draft blog, Mocking the Draft or for Cardinals coverage, visit Revenge of the Birds.

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Former Players To Announce 2nd Round Picks Of 2011 NFL Draft

With the 2011 NFL Draft happening next week, the league has decided to add a little flair to Friday night. Instead of Commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the picks, a former star player from each team will announce each pick of the second round. This means that players like Marshall Faulk, Richard Dent, Franco Harris and Jevon Kearse will be the ones at the podium.

What about the Arizona Cardinals? The player announcing their second round selection is none other than the best former Cardinal to play in Arizona -- Aeneas Williams. Williams languished during the 1990s on terrible Cardinals teams, but was as fine a cornerback as there has been. 

Perhaps this is a way to attempt to build some rapport with the new players by having former players there. Perhaps it is simply a way to create more intrigue and thus get more eyeball on the televisions for Friday night.

Thursday night will be a night people will watch because the first round has the star college players. After that, it is less exciting. So, why not add a gimmick? 

Considering the fact that there really is nothing else to look forward to, I'm all for it. Watching the original AW welcome a new Cardinal to the league will be a treat. 

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Peter King And Todd McShay Differ On Cardinals Selection

The 2011 NFL draft is now just a week away. The lockout is still on, so no other player movement is happening, so everyone is doing mock draft projections. Peter King and Todd McShay have both made their latest projections and these projections, at least from King, are new.

Todd McShay's mock draft has the Cardinals taking Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert. It is not the first time he has projected this. The strange thing is that Patrick Peterson is still on the board and ends up in San Francisco. I'm not sure why McShay projects this. Everything Ken Whisenhunt and even Larry Fitzgerald have said indicate the direction of the Cards is to get a guy who can impact the team year one. No one anywhere thinks that Gabbert will be able to do much in year one. 

Here is what McShay says:

The Cardinals need an upgrade at quarterback, and while I've been told they are not that crazy about Gabbert or Newton, my gut feeling is that they will take the QB who's available.  

So...the Cards will draft a guy they will pay a lot of money to, yet are not crazy about. Sounds a little crazy to me.

Peter King's mock draft has the Cardinals going a different direction. He has them going with Georgia WR A.J. Green. He has Cam Newton, Marcell Dareus, Von Miller and Blaine Gabbert going ahead of the Cardinals' pick. He does, though, think they should draft Patrick Peterson.  Here is King's reasoning: 

The way Arizona figures it, a veteran QB can be had at some point before the season to get Larry Fitzgerald the ball. What else would help the Cards' best player? The top-rated receiver on most teams' boards, who could further deflect attention from Fitzgerald. I'd prefer the best corner in the draft, to boost the 29th-rated defense, improve the athleticism in the secondary and help the return game.

Taking Green would be a surprise, but would not be a bad pick. Both Steve Breaston and Early Doucet are not under contract currently, so the receiving corp could get really thin if they leave. They would be left with Andre Roberts (who showed promise late in the year) and undrafted players Max Komar and Stephen Williams. That group is not going to scare many defenses in the league. Green would give the team potentially two elite receivers, including one (Green) who can get behind defenses with his speed.

Would I go offense with the number five pick? I would not. I'm not in love with any quarterback that high and the defensive players at the top of the draft are potentially dynamic (and the defense needs playmakers). If Miller, Dareus or Peterson were available, I think they have to go that route.

We will soon find out. Seven days remain until the big day arrives. 

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Cardinals Go Defense In Rounds 1 & 2

With the 2011 NFL Draft coming up in just a week and a half, SB Nation has made the latest projections in their 2011 NFL mock draft. This time they have mocked a full two rounds. For the Arizona Cardinals, the projections have them going for defensive players with their first two picks.  

With their first selection, much like several previous projections, the Cardinals select LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson after fan preference Von Miller is drafted with the third pick by the Buffalo Bills. 

Here is the explanation for Peterson at number five:

Cornerback isn't the big need, but teaming Peterson with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would be very enticing.

It is hard to disagree with this pick. Peterson is arguably the best prospect in the entire draft and has the potential to make a huge impact not only on defense, but also on special teams with his ability to make plays as a returner.

In the second round, the Cards take a bit of a risk on a pass rusher, selecting Georgia OLB Justin Houston. Says the article:

The Vernon Gholston comparisons are already flying, but this is good value for a potentially excellent pass rusher.

I think a Gholston comparison is a bit unfair. Houston would not be selected at the top of the draft like Gholston was and Houston will end up playing OLB, while the Jets used Gholston at DE. The only question is if he is like Cody Brown, who after being drafted in 2009 was cut before the 2010 season. 

With the drafting of two defensive players, it would seem that Arizona will most certainly be a player in obtaining a QB by trade or via free agency and are banking as well on the further development of John Skelton for the future.

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2011 NFL Draft: More Mock Drafts And A Rumor That Cardinals Will Trade Up

As we approach the 2011 NFL Draft in just two more weeks, the mock drafts and projections are still abounding. In fact, the rumors of trades are starting to heat up. Wednesday afternoon it was rumored that the Denver Broncos were in talks with the Cardinals and Redskins about trading the number two pick in the draft.

Why would they do that? Likely because at number five or number ten, they will still be able to get an impact player and they would get additional picks to bolster their roster. Also, for the Cardinals and Redskins, it would mean that they would guarantee themselves Blaine Gabbert (unless Carolina takes him first). 

ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper believes that the visit the Cardinals made to see Blaine Gabbert work out, and that it was Michael Bidwill who was in attendance as well, is reason to believe that the Cards really want Gabbert and fear he won't be around at number five. 

Aside from that rumor, the latest Don Banks mock draft from SI.com has the Cardinals standing pat with the fifth pick and that Von Miller, whom so many covet for the Cardinals defense, will be their selection. That is the only recent mock draft that has Miller falling that far.

As for my own draft projections, I predict that the Cards will go with Patrick Peterson. I don't think that Arizona will target a quarterback and that both Gabbert and Newton will be gone anyway. That would mean that either Miller, DT Marcell Dareus or Peterson would be available, and I think Peterson will be that guy. 

And that would not be a bad thing at all for the Arizona defense.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Latest Projections Still Have Cam Newton No.1, Patrick Peterson To Cardinals

SB Nation has just released its latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft and there is not a lot of change at the top of the draft. The Carolina Panthers are projected to go with Cam Newton, the polarizing Heisman-winning Auburn quarterback. Popular opinion has Newton as one of the players in the draft with the most potential but also with the biggest bust potential as well. As for the Arizona Cardinals, once again Von Miller, the coveted Texas A&M outside linebacker, is unavailable at number five. However, the Cardinals do select a player that could make a huge impact on their defense and on special teams. LSU CB Patrick Peterson is who is projected to be taken by Arizona at number five overall.

Here is what was said about the pick:

A lot of names linked to the Cardinals are already off the board, but that might be to the team's benefit - Peterson is arguably the best player available, and is a great complement to the ultra-athletic Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Peterson, if drafted, would likely start out playing behind DRC and Greg Toler, allowing Ken Whisenhunt and Ray Horton to bring him along slowly as they prefer to do with rookies. He would get looks in nickel packages and woudl likely be in the mix in the return game.

There are some doubts about Peterson, considering the failure that Antrel Rolle was at cornerback, but it is important to note that Peterson is both bigger and faster than Rolle was. However, there is no other player that seems to be as talented at number five. The Cardinals have to make that pick.

There are still three first-round QBs. Newton goes first overall, Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert goes to the Bengals and Jake Locker is taken at number 16 by the Jacksonville Jaguars

As for the rest of the NFC West, the 49ers take cornerback Prince Amukamara, the Rams draft Alabama receiver Julio Jones and the Seahawks improve their offensive line with Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Everyone Making Draft Projections, Not Just Kiper and McShay

With the draft just three weeks away, almost everyone is making their own mock drafts. We all know about Mel Kiper and Todd McShay and their mock drafts (although you have to be a paying Insider member to access the full mock drafts), but there of course are more. There are interactive community drafts, there are writer drafts and there are even mock drafts done via Twitter. 

The mock draft via Twitter has Blaine Gabbert being drafted number one overall and the Cardinals taking Da'Quan Bowers. This is the first time I have seen him taken by Arizona.

As you may have seen, right here on SB Nation Arizona, we have been doing our own mock draft. Cam Newton gets taken first overall and the Cardinals end up with LSU CB Patrick Peterson. 

Over on the Arizona Cardinals team blog, there has been a simultaneous writer and community mock draft. The community members took Marcell Dareus as the number pick and the writers took Nick Fairley. Both agreed on the Cardinals by selecting Von Miller. 

Also here on SB Nation, over on Mocking the Draft, there has been a mock draft running and it continues now in the second round. Each NFL team blog picked for their team. Blaine Gabbert was the first pick and the Cardinals were left to draft Cam Newton, much to the chagrin of many readers. 

One last mock draft to share. It was another interactive mock draft with the readers, and it was the full  seven rounds! Blaine Gabbert again was first overall, and the Cardinals took Robert Quinn.

If you haven't realized, mocking the NFL Draft is the thing to do. If you haven't done yours yet, shame on you.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Latest Projections By Kiper And McShay Has Gabbert Landing To Cardinals

ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both released their latest mock drafts on Wednesday, and their projections are identical for the top five picks in the draft. They agree that Cam Newton will be the first quarterback chosen and will be selected number one overall by the Carolina Panthers. After that, the Denver Broncos select Alabama's Marcell Dareus, the Buffalo Bills draft Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, the Cincinnati Bengals grab Georgia receiver A.J. Green and the Cardinals take Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert with the fifth pick.

Kiper says this about the selection:

I could also see Arizona getting creative and looking for a veteran arm such as Kolb, but Gabbert is the quarterback in the draft most likely to help a team soonest, and if he's available here, it might be tough for Arizona to pass on him. He offers elite size, accuracy, athleticism and the smarts to pick things up quickly at the NFL level. This is a pick I could see going in several directions, but if Arizona isn't confident they can get a suitable veteran fix in at quarterback, Gabbert is a good choice.

McShay has this to offer:

With Miller off the board, Gabbert is a no-brainer here. The Cardinals might have a trying season in 2011 with a rookie quarterback at the helm but the team cannot believe that Max Hall or John Skelton is the long-term answer at the position. Gabbert might not be the first quarterback off the board but I believe his combination of intangibles, mental makeup and accuracy will make him the best quarterback from the 2011 class when all is said and done.

With Arizona filling their quarterback need with their first selection, they are projected to address their need of an outside pass rusher in the second round. Kiper projects that Arizona Wildcat Brooks Reed will be that guy, while McShay says that the Cards do take a Pac-10 player, but UCLA LB Akeem Ayers.

The one thing that some could question is passing on LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, who falls to the 49ers at number seven. CB is not an obvious need, as the team has Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler, whom  the coaching staff believes in. If the Cards were to go that route, they might feel that they need to draft a QB in the second round. History shows drafting a QB in the second round is not a good idea.

Obviously this should be seen as a successful pair of picks. The coveted choice of Von Miller is unavailable, so he was not an option. The team takes care of its two most glaring needs by selecting players that many are high on. It is hard to fault them for that. They certainly could do worse (they have done that in the past).

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2011 NFL Draft: Mock Drafts And Projections Abound

As we are about to creep into the month of April, there are two important story lines for the NFL. The first is the court hearing on April 6 regarding the current lockout. The second is the NFL Draft. Since the lockout is being dealt with by the courts and most people don't put together mock court hearings to predict the ruling, we pretty much are sitting and awaiting the outcome. As for the draft, it seems that everybody does a mock draft. Around the Internet you can find mock drafts and projections everywhere. 

I don't blame us. That is the only thing with the NFL we have to talk about. Players are working out, having interviews and trying to show off to their prospective employers that they are going to be worth the millions of dollars they are hoping to earn from them.

Here is what is floating around the grand conglomerate of sites known as the World Wide Web or Internet:

 

SB Nation Arizona Mocks The 2011 NFL Draft - SB Nation Arizona
In the first SB Nation AZ mock draft has begun. A new pick is revealed each day until the first round is complete.

Kiper's 2011 Big Board: A new No. 2 overall player, and a big move in the O-line market - ESPN
The current Big Board undergoes another notable shift, as we have a new No. 2 overall player, and an offensive lineman has cracked the top 10 for the first time all season. (You have to be an ESPN Insider for full access)

2011 NFL Mock Draft | New NFL Draft
2011 NFL Mock Draft news and updates. With a Mock Draft database for the 2011 season, NFL player profiles for the draft and legendary New NFL Draft expertise.

2011 NFL Mock Draft
Updated 2011 NFL Mock Draft, an estimation of how the 2011 NFL Draft will play out.

2011 NFL Mock Draft: 'Live' SB Nation Bay Area Mock Draft - SB Nation Bay Area
SB Nation Bay Area reveals its 2011 NFL Mock Draft in a pick-by-pick basis through two rounds and potentially onward. Who will the 49ers and Raiders end up with?

WalterFootball.com: 2011 NFL Mock Draft - Greg Cox

Detailed NFL Mock Drafts, Player Prospect Rankings, One of the Largest Mock Draft Databases on the Web, Power Rankings and Much More for the NFL and Other Sports.

WalterFootball.com: 2011 NFL Mock Draft-

Detailed NFL Mock Drafts, Player Prospect Rankings, One of the Largest Mock Draft Databases on the Web, Power Rankings and Much More for the NFL and Other Sports. 

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Latest SB Nation Projections Have Blaine Gabbert Going No. 1

We stand exactly one month away from the 2011 NFL Draft and there is still no movement on the labor front. It appears that the draft may be the only thing going on with the league for a while. SB Nation makes its projections regarding the first round of the draft, and little changes with the Arizona Cardinals, except that they have a difficult choice. They, however, do not land quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Missouri or Auburn's Cam Newton, as they both are gone before the Cardinals pick at No. 5.

The pick for Arizona is still Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, who is described as "a perfect fit for the Cardinals." That is very hard to argue. He is the best pure pass rusher in the draft and projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker to rush off the edge, a great need for the Cardinals. 

The hard part of the decision is the fact that LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson is projected to still be available. Peterson is considered by many the most talented player in the draft. The Cardinals could use a corner of his talent. Likewise, if he ends up needing to move to safety down the line, he would provide a replacement for Adrian Wilson when needed. Peterson, in this mock draft, falls two picks further, landing with the San Francisco 49ers, which is a bummer for Cardinals fans.

Three QB's go in the first round. Gabbert goes No. 1 to the Carolina Panthers, Newton goes No. 4 to the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington's Jake Locker stays in the Pacific Northwest and is drafted by the Seattle Seahawks at No. 25. 

The first 10 picks of the mock draft round out like this:

1- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri (Panthers)

2- Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn (Broncos)

3- Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson (Bills)

4- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn (Bengals)

5- Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M (Cardinals)

6- Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama (Browns)

7- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU (49ers)

8- Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska (Titans)

9- Tyron Smith, OT, USC (Cowboys)

10- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia (Redskins)

To join in on the draft conversation about the Cardinals, head on over to Revenge of the Birds and chime in.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Todd McShay's Mock 4.0 Has Marcell Dareus No. 1, Cam Newton To Cardinals

Mock drafts are all the craze in these days of the NFL lockout. Team blogs, fans and draft experts alike try to project how the NFL Draft will go at the end of next month. ESPN draft expert Todd McShay just released the fourth version of his mock draft (full version only visible if you are an ESPN Insider), this time going a full two rounds. In this version, the number one overall pick of the draft is not a quarterback, but rather Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Likewise, this the first mock draft that has the Arizona Cardinals selecting someone other than Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller.

In this mock draft, Miller gets snatched up as the second pick, going to the Denver Broncos. 

The Cardinals make a surprising pick with their selection at number five, being projected to take the controversial Auburn quarterback Cam Newton (Blaine Gabbert is projected to go number three to the Buffalo Bills). Here is what McShay said:

Gabbert would be the better choice if he's available. Miller would also be a consideration as a perfect fit at OLB in the Cardinals' 3-4 scheme. But Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt witnessed first hand the impact Ben Roethlisberger made in Pittsburgh and he knows what a quarterback of with Newton's size and mobility can do for an offense. If Arizona pulls the trigger on Newton expect its offense to be modeled after the system the Steelers have put in place for Big Ben.

This would truly be a surprise to Cardinals fans. Yes, Whisenhunt was at his Pro Day and was the only coach to go shake his hand and tell him he did a good job and yes he did break off the script and asked Newton to make a few throws on routes that the Cards like to run, but most fans believe this to be a smokescreen or a mind game. 

But with the Cardinals' two top needs being a pass rusher and a quarterback and the one pass rusher that appears to be the perfect fit for their defensive scheme (Miller) already off the board, maybe it should not be a surprise. 

While other mock drafts have quarterback Jake Locker going as high as number ten, in this one he falls to number 25 and stays in Washington, being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. 

Arizona Wildcat defensive end Brooks Reed sneaks into the first round and is projected to be drafted by the Green Bay Packers. 

Quarterbacks are the talk of the second round. Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton all go in the first  ten picks of the round, making the total number being six quarterbacks being drafted in the first 42 picks. 

With their second pick, the Cardinals are projected to draft the number one rated tight end in the draft, Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph, leaving the pass rushing need to be addressed in later rounds or via free agency.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Latest Projections Have Von Miller Gone, Cardinals Selecting Gabbert

Von Miller has been the favorite for the Cardinals to draft with their number five pick in the first round. Mel Kiper twice has projected him to be the Cardinals' pick and the fans over in the Cardinals team blog have been clamoring for his pass rushing skills and defensive speed. However, the latest projections by Yahoo sports have him gone at number three, going to the Buffalo Bills. 

With their selection, the Arizona Cardinals are projected to make the first pick of a quarterback, selecting Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert. The explanation is as follows:

When Kurt Warner retired, the Cardinals' offense was left in shambles and the team cycled through quarterbacks, unable to find a solution. Gabbert is still raw, but Ken Whisenhunt is a master of bringing quarterbacks along slowly, as he did with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, and could tailor a game plan that allows Gabbert to step into the starting lineup readily.

What is interesting is that other mocks have quarterbacks being selected earlier and earlier. In one mock draft, Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker are all selected in the first ten picks. 

In these projections, Cam Newton falls all the way to number 15 and is selected by the Miami Dolphins. Locker falls to 28 and will be a New England Patriot. 

Both highly rated receivers, A.J. Green and Julio Jones are gone by pick number six. 

If the Cardinals go the route of quarterback with their first selection, it would be unlikely to see Kyle Orton or Kevin Kolb in Arizona for 2011. A veteran free agent will be the likely target to start the season and Gabbert would compete with John Skelton for the backup spot, both in a developing role.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker All Top 10

The NFL lockout is in full force, but that doesn't matter. The draft is still going to happen. And since the 2011 NFL Draft is still going to happen, we still must make projections with mock drafts. SB Nation's latest mock draft is all about the quarterback this time. It seems that with a rookie salary scale that will take effect at some point and the uncertainty of team being able to trade for or sign a quarterback for next season has them willing to take the risk of selected a quarterback first. 

The Carolina Panthers are projected to select Auburn QB Cam Newton as the number one pick overall. Many will fear a JaMarcus Russell-like bust, but the one thing that will be different is that he will not make the amount of money that Russell did. 

Blaine Gabbert is projected to go number three to the Buffalo Bills. The surprise is the rise of Jake Locker. He was not considered even a first round pick a month ago. Now he is projected to go number 10 to the Washington Redskins. 

The Arizona Cardinals are still sticking with Von Miller, who seems to be tailor-made for their defensive scheme. Here is what the mock draft says about him:

There may not be a snugger fit between prospect, team, need, and scheme than Miller and Arizona. In a defense that relies on disruptive talent in its front seven, it is imperative that the Cardinals upgrade at outside linebacker.

Another player moving up the ranks is Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed. In previous mocks, he was going in the second round, perhaps to the Cardinals. Mel Kiper has him going as the last pick in the first round to the Green Bay Packers. Now he is projected to go the New England Patriots as the 28th pick in the draft.

1. Carolina Panthers: QB Cam Newton

2. Denver Broncos: DT Marcel Dareus

3. Buffalo Bills: QB Blaine Gabbert

4. Cincinnati Bengals: WR A.J. Green

5. Arizona Cardinals: OLB Von Miller

6. Cleveland Browns: DE Robert Quinn

7. San Francisco 49ers: CB Patrick Peterson

8. Tennessee Titans: DE Da'Quan Bowers

9. Dallas Cowboys: CB Prince Amukamara

10. Washington Redskins: QB Jake Locker

 


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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper's 3.0 Vaults Missouri's Gabbert To Number One

ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper released his latest 2011 mock draft, version 3.0 (the entire first round is only visible to ESPN Insiders). Although we are still over a month away from the actual draft, the combine is complete and the Pro Days have begun. Cam Newton showed off his stuff for Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and several other NFL coaches on Tuesday, while Ryan Mallett was having his in Arkansas the same day. Kiper's latest projections still have six defensive players being drafted in the top ten overall, the big news is that of where the quarterbacks go.

Before the Cardinals select at number five, both of the highest rated quarterbacks will be gone. Kiper projects Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert to be the first overall selection, going to the Carolina Panthers. Three picks later at number four, and just before the Cardinals, the Cincinnati Bengals are projected to select Auburn Heisman winner Cam Newton, perhaps looking to replace Carson Palmer, who is has threatened to sit at home in comfort with his $80 million in savings if he is not donning another team's uniform in 2011. 

Kiper's Top Ten looks like this:

1. Carolina: QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri

2. Denver: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn

3. Buffalo: DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama

4. Cincinnati: QB Cam Newton, Auburn

5. Arizona: OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M

6. Cleveland: WR AJ Green, Georgia

7. San Francisco: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU

8. Tennessee: DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson

9. Dallas: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska

10. Washington: WR Julio Jones, Alabama

Here is what Kiper had to say about Miller as the Cardinals' draft pick:

I'm sticking with this selection from the last mock. Joey Porter won't be back and Miller would represent an immediate pass-rushing upgrade on the edge of Arizona's 3-4 scheme. Miller, who has come a long way since a junior year in which he was considered mainly a sack artist, could certainly provide a pass-rushing presence for the Cardinals, but also has a great deal of athleticism and should hold up for three downs in this system.

As for other notable selections, the Seattle Seahawks select Washington QB Jake Locker at number 25, keeping him in the Pacific Northwest (and also almost in the PAC-10, with Pete Carroll and Jom Harbaugh both now coaching in the NFC West). 

As for Arizona ties, Brooks Reed, defensive end for the Arizona Wildcats, creeps into the first round, being selected with the 32nd and final pick of the round. He gets to go to the Green Bay Packers and play alongside Clay Matthews, Jr. and AJ Hawk. He had been projected in most other mock drafts to wind up in the second round, some even staying in state and playing for the Cardinals.

We will keep you posted with each mock draft we come across.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Cam Newton Shoots To Top, No Change With Cardinals

Now that the NFL combine is over and colleges' Pro Days have begun, combined with the fact that there is little else to talk about on the NFL front due to a continuation of negotiations between the league and the NFLPA, there is little else than to speculate about the draft. In SB Nation's latest draft projections, there are some new developments. Quarterbacks are the talk of the town, as both Auburn's Cam Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert are projected to be selected before the Arizona Cardinals select at No. 5.

In what is a surprise, Cam Newton is projected to be selected No. 1 by the Carolina Panthers. The surprise is that Newton supposedly turned a few people off by his third person self-references, his talk of being an entertainer and an icon and his lack of accuracy in the combine throwing drills.

In this mock draft, Blaine Gabbert is gone at No. 4, headed to Ohio to play for the Cincinnati Bengals. It would appear that the Bengals are preparing for Carson Palmer's either departure or retirement.

In what is also a new projection, Washington quarterback Jake Locker skyrockets up to No. 15 and is projected to be a member of the Miami Dolphins.

As for the Cardinals, Von Miller is still the projected player they select. It is well known that the team is high on the Texas A&M pass rusher, and it is painfully clear that the Arizona defense lacks a pass-rushing presence. 

Perhaps the most notable fall from grace is Auburn's defensive lineman Nick Fairley. Projected to go as high as the first pick in the draft, he now falls to number eight, being drafted by the Tennessee Titans. This would not exactly be a bad situation, as he could be the guy to replace the hole left by the departure of Albert Haynesworth. Fairley, if you remember, answered some questions for us at SB Nation Arizona about the draft not long ago. 

The SB Nation Top Ten goes like this:

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. 

2. Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. 

3. Buffalo Bills: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. 

4. Cincinnati Bengals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. 

5. Arizona Cardinals: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M. 

6. Cleveland Browns: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama. 

7. San Francisco 49ers: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia. 

8. Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. 

9. Dallas Cowboys: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. 

10. Washington Redskins: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin. 

 

For discussion about the draft and other Cardinals news,  join us at Revenge of the Birds.

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2011 NFL Draft: Mel Kiper's Big Board Shaken Up By Patrick Peterson

As it happens every year as we all wait for the actual NFL Draft to actually happen in April, we all rely on Mel Kiper and his mock drafts and big board ranking draft prospects from top to bottom. On Wednesday, Kiper updated his big board after the results of all the workouts of the NFL combine (you have to be an Insider to see beyond the top five). Previously, it was Auburn's Nick Fairley that topped the list. He fell only one spot, but the biggest rise was the guy that replaced him as number one -- LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. 

Peterson now sits atop the big board, although that typically means little when it comes to the order in which players are drafted. 

Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller is ranked number five, but is projected to go as high as the third pick.

Some players slipped a bit on the big board. Three in particular. Auburn quarterback and Heisman trophy winner Cam Newton slipped from number seven to number ten. Georgia receiver AJ Green falls three slips to number six and North Carolina DE Robert Quinn falls from number five to number seven.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Blaine Gabbert And Prince Amukamara Sore After Combine

The NFL combine is now over and the combined attention of the football world turns to the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft. Needless to say, the results of the combine had a big effect on many prospects including quarterback Blaine Gabbert who moved up to the top spot in SB Nation's 2011 NFL Mock Draft. Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara, a local kid from Glendale, Ariz., has also seen his prospects rise to the seventh spot after a strong showing on his speed tests.

This version of the mock draft has the Arizona Cardinals taking defensive end Robert Quinn from North Carolina. The opinion, which seems to be growing locally as well, is that the Cardinals will try and nab a veteran quarterback via free agency or trade and use their fifth pick to add star talent to the defensive line.

Quinn along with Von Miller are the names we are reading about most. Revenge of the Birds blog has a profile of both guys (Von Miller and Robert Quinn) and has the combine results from both.

We are all worried about the impeding lockout but don't worry, the draft will still go on so don't let all this messy labor stuff deter you from following your team or favorite prospects. 

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12 ASU and U of A Draft Prospects In The 2011 NFL Draft

Amongst all the uncertainty swirling around the NFL this offseason, it's nice to know with confidence that the 2011 NFL Draft will take place. It's also nice to know that the draft will feature several players from our wonderful Arizona, even though we may be sad to see them go. This year's draft, according to two ESPN Draft Insider reports, will feature 12 athletes total from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona.

Here's a look at all 12 prospects:

Arizona Defensive End Brooks Reed

Brooks has an overall grade of 77, which places him in the Solid Prospect range from 70-79. He is ranked 12th out of 92 total defensive ends, and is projected to be picked around the third round.

Arizona State Defensive Tackle Lawrence Guy

Guy has an overall grade of 61, placing him as a Good Prospect. He is ranked 13th out of 101 defensive tackles in this upcoming draft, and is projected to go in the fourth round.

Arizona Defensive End D'Andre Reed

Reed will be another Arizona defensive end, alongside teammate Brooks Reed (detailed above) in this draft. He has an overall grade of 44, which puts him in the Borderline Draft Prospect category. He is ranked 22nd out of 92 defensive ends, which places him ten players back of Brooks Reed on the defensive end list.

Arizona Defensive End Rick Elmore

Elmore rounds out the trifecta of Arizona defensive backs with an overall grade of 43, which positions him 23rd (just behind D'Andre Reed) out of 92 defensive ends. He is also a Borderline Draft Prospect. If D. Reed or Elmore are not picked up in the late rounds of this year's draft, they will have to test free agency to secure a team.

Arizona State Place Kicker Thomas Weber

Weber has an overall grade of 42 and is ranked 3rd out of 28 punter prospects in the draft.

Arizona Offensive Tackle Adam Grant

Grant has an overall grade of 40. He is ranked 17th out of 76 total offensive tackles.

Arizona Punter Keenyn Crier

Crier ranks 5th amongst 25 kickers with an overall grade of 30.

Arizona State Punter Trevor Hakins

Hankins, also with a grade of 30, ranks just one spot behind Crier as the sixth out of the 25 kickers in the draft.

Arizona State Inside Linebacker Gerald Munns

Munns has an overall grade of 30 and ranks 32nd out of 65 io the inside linebacker positional ranks.

Arizona Center Colin Baxter

Collins has a grade of 30 and ranks 17th out of the 31 centers in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Arizona Running Back Nicolas Gigbsy

Grigbsy enters the relatively deep field of running backs by just making the top-third of the running back rankings. He is ranked 32nd out of 96 running backs with an overall grade of 30.

Arizona Wide Receiver Delashaun Dean

Dean also has a ranking of 30, and he just manages to make the top half of the 2011 wide receiver draft prospects. He is projected 78th out of 179 wide receiver prospects.

In addition to all of these prospects, SB Nation Arizona's very own Dontay Moch will also be in this year's draft. Here's a look at his profile:

Nevada Wolfpack Outside Linebacker Dontay Moch 

Moch checks in with an overall grade of 74, and he ranks seventh amongst the 106 total outside linebackers in this year's draft. Like Arizona's Brooks Reed above, Moch is classified as a Solid Prospect and is projected to be drafted in the third round.

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NFL Combine And CBA Overshadows Larry Fitzgerald Contract Negotiations

The Arizona Cardinals and the rest of the league are in Indianapolis wrapping up the NFL Combine this week but meanwhile the looming March 3 deadline for the current CBA is the bigger issue facing the team. GM Rod Graves told the Arizona Republic that discussions with superstar wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald continue, but an agreement seems unlikely before the lockout that would begin on Thursday, March 3.

"Obviously the window is getting shorter in terms of us being able to close something before the end of the (league) year," Graves told the Republic.

The deadline for this round of negotiations isn't a huge issue, since Fitzgerald is under contract for one more season. And while the Cardinals and their fans would love to see an extension in place as soon as possible, there will be more time once the NFL labor issues are settled.

Meanwhile, at the NFL Combine players are continuing their workouts for the scouts, front office personnel and media in preparation for a draft that may or may not take place on time depending on the CBA status. One big thing to look for this week on that front is the union filing for decertification.

The players must file to decertify the NFLPA before Thursday or be forced to wait an additional six months. Once the union is gone, the players are free to sue the NFL on anti-trust grounds. It's a complicated process but one that would signal a major escalation in the battle between the two sides. Lets hope it doesn't come to that.

As for the Cardinals draft and quarterback prospects, Republic beat writer Kent Somers speculates that the team might pass on a quarterback with their number five pick and instead target pass rusher, Von Miller. The team would then hope to fill the QB slot in free agency or through a trade and try and land Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton, or Marc Bulger.

Revenge of the Birds has more on Miller and why he might be a good fit for the Cardinals and for more NFL Combine coverage, visit SB Nation's StoryStream.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: SB Nation Agrees With Mel Kiper On Cardinals' Pick

We are right before the NFL Combine, where former college athletes will have one more shot to show (or not show in some cases) the NFL teams that they have what it takes to contribute or even shine on Sundays as pros. Last week, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper released his mock draft 2.0. His projections had Auburn quarterback Cam Newton on the rise, Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert sliding a little bit and the Arizona Cardinals not selecting a quarterback. SB Nation released their most recent mock draft and, while agreeing with Kiper on the player the Cardinals will select, differs in where the two highest rated quarterbacks are projected to be selected.

While Kiper had Cam Newton being selected by the Buffalo Bills at number three and Blaine Gabbert at number ten by the Washington Redskins, SB Nation's projections have the Missouri signal caller going to Buffalo to work under Ryan Fitzpatrick. SB Nation also has the Redskins losing out of the quarterback position, as Newton is projected to be selected by the Tennessee Titan with the number eight pick overall.

Agreeing with Kiper's projections, Arizona is looking on the defensive side of the ball, selecting Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, who showed his dominance most recently in the Senior Bowl. An elite edge rusher is ia huge need for the Cardinals, and a player of this caliber (or potential caliber) could be a defensive force from day one.

I have said it before, Von Miller would be great here. He would not have to learn a new position as a defensive end would have to in the Cardinals' 3-4 defense. He can get to the quarterback and can play the run as well. He can't complete passes to Larry Fitzgerald, but he will make an impact.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper Now Projects Von Miller To The Cardinals

Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN's draft expert, just released version "2.0" of his 2011 NFL mock draft. Not a lot changed drastically, but Cam Newton is a hotter commodity. He previously projected that the Arizona Cardinals would select Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert with the number five pick and that Newton would go tenth to the Washington Redskins.

Kiper's latest projections (you can see the entire first round if you are an ESPN Insider) have the Cardinals looking elsewhere besides quarterback with their first-round pick. He has Cam Newton, previously going tenth to the Redskins, now being selected third by the Buffalo Bills, thus allowing more time for him to develop behind Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Gabbert, who was previously projected to go to the Cardinals, now is thought to slip to Washington at number ten.

Kiper projects that the Cardinals will go on the defensive side for their fist pick, selecting Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller. Here is Kiper's take on the pick:

Joey Porter is unlikely to be back, and Miller would represent an immediate pass-rushing upgrade on the edge of Arizona's 3-4 scheme. The Texas A&M standout made his name in 2009 as a sack artist but developed a range of skills in 2010 and has become a complete player. He stands up well against the run and drops into coverage seamlessly.

While we all know that quarterback is an obvious need for Arizona, selecting Miller would be a great move. With the fifth pick in the draft, ideally you should get a guy who can make a major impact. The Cardinals, though, need a guy who can do that from day one. No quarterback is going to be able to do that from the start like Miller or another of the high-quality defensive picks in this year's draft class.

Miller also has the potential to have a longer-term impact, as well. There is nothing not to like about selecting Miller, except perhaps that he isn't a quarterback.

While Ken Whisenhunt does not like to start rookie players right away, he showed that he will give them playing time. All of the rookies on last year's squad got meaningful playing time and all of last year's draft picks who stayed on the team (except O'Brien Schofield) started at some point in the season.

Say what you want about getting a quarterback, if Von Miller is available, it would be hard not to take him.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Latest Projections Include Cam Newton, Pass Rusher For Cardinals

The 2011 NFL Draft is yet approaching and soon upon us is the NFL Combine, where draft-eligible players will show off their stuff and NFL team scouts and officials observe, interview and probe potential contributors to their football teams. Players like Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Von Miller and Nick Fairley are all expected to go early, but draft experts keep changintg their projections for the top of the draft.

Our Arizona Cardinals have needs that are well documented, perhaps none more than the glaring need at quarterback. Previous draft projections have the Cardinals taking Missouri's Blaine Gabbert or skipping the quarterback need altogetherand selecting highly-touted cornerback Prince Amukamara.

However, the most recent mock draft has a different pick for the Redbirds and also projects the second round, as well. This mock draft has Arizona taking care of its two biggest needs with these picks -- quarterback and pass-rusher.

It projects that the Cardinals will select Auburn's Heisman winning Cam Newton with the fifth pick overall, making him the first quarterback selected in the 2011 Draft.

With their second-round selection, Arizona is projected to draft a defensive end from down south in Tucson -- Arizona's Brooks Reed.

These selections on paper make a lot of sense. It would take care of the team's two biggest holes, but I am hesitant at selecting a quarterback that high. Cam Newton is very intriguing, as has been documented here before, but it seems very unlikely that Ken Whisenhunt would draft a quarterback that high who is still considered very raw.

I am warming to the idea of Blaine Gabbert, but he lacks the same sort of buzz that Sam Bradford had last year. We saw with the St. Louis Rams just how quickly things can turn around when you draft a guy like Bradford to be your quarterback.

Another thing to consider is the possibility of Kevin Kolb. Now, with the labor dispute in the league, a trade is impossible right now, but it would seem unwise to draft a quarterback that high and then go after Kolb, who would ideally be the starter for years to come. The team already has a pair of prject quarterbacks in John Skelton and Max Hall.

With a pick as high as the Cardinals have and with as many needs as they have on the team, it would seem that the best way to go is to select the guy that will have the most impact. You want a guy who will be an impact from day one. A stud defensive back like Amukamara or Patrick Peterson would be great lining up on the opposite side of the field from Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie. Any linebacker or pass-rusher that could be a game-changer from day one on defense would be the smarter choice. Any quarterback would likely not be a difference maker for at least a season, maybe two.

Acquiring Kolb would eliminate the need to draft a quarterback high. It would allow the team to focus on playmakers on both sides of the football.  

Even still, Kolb or not, the Cardinals are in a position that allows them to go a lot of different directions. They could go with any number of players have have it be a good choice. That is what happens when you are a bad team and have lots of holes to fill. It makes it easier to find a guy who will be an improvement.

While the draft is still more than two months away, and even without seeing any of these guys in their workouts, it will be exciting to see what direction the Cardinals take. With the possibility of a lockout that could viably take away actual games, the draft may well be the only thing to cheer for in 2011.

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NFL Mock Draft: ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. Has Cardinals Drafting QB

Espn's draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. released his first official 2011 NFL Mock Draft. Since this is worth about two hours of coverage on SportsCenter, it is definitely discussing here, especially when it involves our Arizona Cardinals. The most interesting thing is that in his mock draft, he has the Cardinals making the first of three quarterback picks in the first round, and it isn't Cam Newton. Kiper has Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley as the first pick of the draft and has the Cardinals selecting Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Cam Newton is projected to be selected by the Washington Redskins with the 10thpick and Arkansas' Ryan Mallet is projected to go at number 25 to the Seattle Seahawks.

Newton at one time was an intriguing choice for the Cards, but he seems to be a little too raw for Ken Whisenhunt's taste.

Gabbert is interesting. Here is what Kiper said about him:

"Gabbert will be under the microscope during the testing process perhaps more than any other player, but at this stage he's the most NFL-ready QB in the draft. Arizona is in a tough spot: If the Cardinals pass on Gabbert, there won't be a QB who can do more for them sooner than Skelton or Hall later in the draft."

While I agree about his comment on Hall and Skelton, when he says he is the most NFL-ready quarterback, that brings up red flags for me. It seems that those guys are the ones with less upside. Remember who was the "most NFL-ready" QB last year? Jimmy Clausen. Two seasons ago, who was the most raw and needed the most work? Josh Freeman. While Freeman has had an extra year, we know who has been better and who looks better going forward.

Based on what we know about Ken Whisenhunt and his philosophies, I see the Cardinals going another direction than quarterback. The Cardinals already have two guys in Skelton and Hall they are trying to develop. If they cannot trade for a quarterback they really want (Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton), then I would expect a decent veteran in Marc Bulger or Matt Hasselback. This way they can continue Skelton's development.

Additionally, there are many needs that the Cards have and potentially impact players they will have available at the fifth pick. There are two great corners in the draft in Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukumara. They would be a great addition to the defense. There are playmaking pass rushers and even a potential superstar at wideout in AJ Green. Lining up opposite Larry Fitzgerald and having that type of talent would make any decent quarterback (note that the keyword is "decent") look good.

If the Cardinals do pull of a trade involving an early draft pick, definitely do not expect a QB pick at number five. The team is not going to use two of its highest three picks on quarterbacks. But if it were my money, I would draft Newton because of the skill set, upside, physical traits and the head on his shoulders. He could be brilliant from day one and have a Josh Freeman-type year.

So, yes, it is still early (and really too early), but since we want to talk about football, speculating who will be the new young prize is fun. Since that is all we have with the Cardinals (we don't even have much to talk about in their coaching search), let's go with it.

If you are an ESPN Insider, you can see the full projected first round.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Cardinals Might Not Pick Cam Newton Or Any QB

With the news that Andrew Luck will not be part of the 2011 NFL Draft class, teams and mock drafts are scrambling to rearrange projections for the upcoming draft. Luck was to be the consensus number one pick by the Carolina Panthers, who desperately seek a franchise quarterback. Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Mallett are all solid QB picks for the first round, but there is doubt whether they will fall. As for the Arizona Cardinals, who have the fifth pick overall and a glaring need at quarterback , the lastest mock draft has them looking elsewhere and Can Newton falling to the seventh pick.

Why would they look at a different position other than quarterback? The reasons are numerous. The first would simply be that of value. If after the combine the teams does not see any of the quarterbacks being worth the money of the fifth pick, they will not do it.

Of course, we all know that there are lots of other needs that the Cardinals have, including defensive line, linebacker, cornerback, offensive line, tight end and, to a lesser extent, wide receiver.

Another big reason they might go for a quarterback is that they may be content with letting John Skelton develop behind a reliable veteran. As veterans go, we believe that Marc Bulger would be perhaps the best option. Also there are solid options via trade (Kyle Orton, Kevin Kolb, and even Matt Schaub if Houston decides to go after hometown legend Vince Young). Ken Whisenhunt does not appear to have the patience to live with the growing pains that come with playing a rookie, at least when his goal is to reach and win in the playoffs.

The latest mock draft has Arizona drafting Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara to play opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. This certainly would not be a bad pick, but it is not even the best projected corner in the draft. LSU's Patrick Peterson gets picked by the Denver Broncos with the number two pick overall.

As for the projected first-round QBs, Cam Newton is projected to go seventh to San Francisco to join new head coach Jim Harbaugh. Ryan Mallett falls to the Seattle Seahawks, thus giving the NFC West three first round quarterbacks from two drafts. Blaine Gabbert gets selected by the Washington Redskins, who will develop under Rex Grossman, while Donovan McNabb (thought to be interested in Arizona) will seek employment elsewhere.

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