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Added Value At No. 29 In Draft

Fifth-year option a desirable chip near end of first round

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Other teams could make a play for the Cardinals' first-round pick if Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch is still on the board.


It will be a long few hours Thursday as the Cardinals watch 28 talented players get chosen before they make their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

But once they're on the clock, General Manager Steve Keim could be in a position of power.

The Cardinals' No. 29 overall selection holds intrigue because it is one of the final three selections of the first round. Beyond the simple prestige, first round picks are notable because each comes with a fifth-year contract option, compared to the standard four years on every other draft choice.

It's particularly crucial at quarterback, where teams can get a bargain price for an extra season of performance which wouldn't be possible once the second round begins.

"If you have a quarterback that you feel is the future, whether you're the drafting team or a team in the top of (round) two, getting that fifth-year option is a huge bonus," Keim said.

It's something to keep in mind when the Cardinals' turn comes up. If there isn't a player on the board whom Keim desires, there very well could be a suitor for the draft choice – especially with quarterback-needy Denver choosing two spots later.

This scenario played out two years ago when the Vikings traded second- and fourth-round selections to the Seahawks for the final pick in the first round, tabbing Teddy Bridgewater with the choice. The Cardinals don't have a second-round selection in the draft after dealing it in the Chandler Jones trade, so the team could add another pick by trading down, although Keim said he will play it by ear as the draft unfolds.

"I think it's the whole mindset that if there's a player there at 29 that we covet, that we're excited about, we have no problem sitting there and taking him," Keim said. "But, if it gets to that point where coach (Bruce Arians) and I discuss a situation where we draw a line in the sand and we feel like we can move back and gain additional picks like we did with (adding a third-rounder in the trade for) Deone (Bucannon), we'll make that decision."

Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are likely to go Nos. 1 and 2 overall in the draft, but after that the quarterback situation is murky. Paxton Lynch's stock seems on the rise and he may not last to No. 29, but if he does, a potential suitor could push hard for the Cardinals' pick.

Connor Cook and Christian Hackenberg are not projected to go that high, but it only takes one team to become enamored, and the fifth year of control would be an extra carrot.

The Cardinals could also hold onto the pick and take advantage of the fifth-year option themselves. If they do stand pat and hit on a franchise quarterback, the low cost would be a salary cap boon in subsequent seasons. But the braintrust also recognizes it can't reach, because the fifth year means little if the player doesn't perform.

"You have to know in your heart that a guy is a future producer to take a quarterback high, because if you don't believe in the guy in your heart and you take him and you force the pick, it's going to set you back," Keim said.



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