Over the next five weeks, FishDuck.com Feature Writer Caleb Couturie will be analyzing the 25 teams in the NFL Draft that may look to select Marcus Mariota.
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No 22: The Arizona Cardinals
ARI’s Draft Pick: Twenty-fourth
ARI’s 2015 Cap Space: $(-6,847,875)
ARI’s Top Needs: LB, QB, Pass Rusher
The Cards are a very good team. They’re a playoff team, evidenced by their wild card selection. However, much of their success hinged on the health of Carson Palmer. While Palmer was relatively healthy, the Cardinals went 8-1. However, after Palmer’s season-ending injury Arizona finished on a 3-4 streak during which their highest total for points was 18. The offense is loaded with young talent, including WR’s Michael Floyd and John Brown. Also RB Andre Ellington appears to be one of the most promising young backs, and their defense is one of the NFL’s elite. The Cards are a QB away from becoming Super Bowl contenders, and you can bet their willing to give up a lot to get Marcus Mariota.
HOW IT CAN HAPPEN:
A double trade. The value difference between the No. 1 and the No. 2 picks are enormous, enough so that Arizona could trade up to the No. 2 spot (Tennessee’s pick) and work from there. It’s a two step process:
Arizona Trades: 2015 first and third picks, as well as 2016 first and second and sixth round picks
Tennessee Trades: 2015 first round pick
Arizona Trades: 2015 first and second round pick
Tampa Bay Trades: No. 1 pick
For all three teams, this is a huge win. Arizona is deep enough at every position to be able to afford the loss of picks (excluding QB, obviously). By taking Mariota, and by not trading away Palmer, Mariota gets a chance to develop under a solid NFL QB and learn the ropes while also not being forced to start. For Tennessee, a team desperately in need of assets, the extra four draft picks are definitely worth more than taking a risk with Jameis Winston or Mariota, both of whom have huge question marks. And finally, for TB, they only move down one and still get a shot at Jameis (who many believe they might want instead anyway) while gaining an extra pick in the process. It’s a win-win-win.
HOW MARIOTA WOULD DO IN ARIZONA:
This is an interesting fit. On one hand, Bruce Arians is a genius. The lauded coach is excellent and catering to player’s specialties, but Mariota really doesn’t fit well into the Cardinals’ current system. The Cards love to push the ball down the field, and although Mariota’s arm strength is above average, it’s certainly not his strongest attribute. It does help that the Cardinals are a young team, and the type of run/pass schemes Arians could draw up for Mariota wouldn’t be unfamiliar to many on the Arizona offense. One thing that certainly helps is the Cards’ veteran Larry Fitzgerald. The older Fitzgerald has many years, and many receptions under his belt. There are not many receivers more reliable than Fitz, and he’d certainly help Mariota transition to the pros. An important note, though, is that he’d be playing in the NFC West, which would make his transition much harder considering the caliber of defenses.
WOULD HE START?:
Well, that all hinges on Palmer’s health. If the veteran can recover from what seems to be his millionth surgery then no, Mariota wouldn’t start. However, if Palmer is still dinged up Mariota is certainly a more viable option than Drew Stanton or *gulp* Ryan Lindley. Arians is no stranger to working with rookie QBs, i.e. Andrew Luck, and an offensive mind like Arians should have no trouble developing Mariota while also playing to his strengths if need be. Since I don’t actually believe Palmer will be healthy all season long, I’m assuming Mariota starts somewhere between 2-4 games in his rookie season.
ARI’s Projected Record with Mariota: 12-4
ARI’s Projected Record W/O Mariota: 10-6
Mariota’s first year stats: 650 yards/5 pass TDs/3 INTs/1 Rushing TD
Top Photo by en.wikipedia.org