With the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, it's time to look toward the 2021 season. The Cardinals have some holes to fill on their roster, and the draft will be an important aspect of bolstering the team.
The Cardinals are slated to pick No. 16 overall in the first round. Here is a look at the early mock draft prognostications from a variety of NFL analysts.
CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech (chosen by Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN; Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports): The Cardinals would benefit from some youth at cornerback, so Farley is a logical candidate in the first round. He began his college career as a wide receiver before moving to defense, and quickly excelled. Farley is 6-foot-2 and 197 pounds with a strong athletic skillset, and his man-to-man coverage skills would fit defensive coordinator Vance Joseph's scheme.
CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina (chosen by Dane Brugler, The Athletic): The son of former Pro Bowl wide receiver Joe Horn, Jaycee was a three-year starter who is projected to be one of the first cornerbacks off the board. At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, he has a solid frame and showed sticky coverage ability. The Cardinals have several impending free agents at cornerback, including Patrick Peterson, which makes the position a natural option in the draft.
OLB Gregory Rousseau, Miami (chosen by Todd McShay, ESPN): Rousseau had 15.5 sacks in 2019 and decided to opt out of 2020. He doesn't have a bunch of film, as his 2018 season was limited by injury, but the production was there, and the skillset is intriguing. The Cardinals have Chandler Jones returning next season on the edge, but Haason Reddick, Markus Golden and Dennis Gardeck are all impending free agents.
OLB Jaelan Phillips, Miami (chosen by Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network): Phillips had a breakout 2020 season with the Hurricanes after a slow start to his college career at UCLA, finishing with eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 10 games. He is a former five-star recruit with the type of tools to be an impact pass-rusher. Most analysts believe Rousseau will go ahead of his teammate, but Phillips has potential as well.
WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama (chosen by Bucky Brooks, NFL Network): DeAndre Hopkins will be the team's No. 1 wide receiver for the foreseeable future, but the Cardinals lacked a consistent second option last season. Smith would immediately fill that void, as the Heisman Trophy winner is one of the most gifted prospects in the draft and would be a natural complement to Hopkins.
WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (chosen by Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus): Smith isn't the only Alabama pass-catcher expected to be taken in the first round. Waddle, who averaged nearly 100 receiving yards per game in the six he played in 2020, is a smaller wide receiver who could be moved from the slot to outside to the backfield. Waddle may not be as natural of a fit based on the Cardinals' needs, but if they see him as a game-breaking player, it would make sense to draft him and figure out his role later.
OLB Azeez Ojulari, Georgia (chosen by Lance Zierlein, NFL.com): At 6-foot- 3 and 240 pounds, Ojulari doesn't have prototypical outside linebacker size, but Reddick and Gardeck proved this year that measurables aren't everything. He is coming off a breakout bowl game, amassing three sacks, two forced fumbles and a safety in the Peach Bowl. Ojulari may not be a great run defender because of his size, but pass-rushing ability is always at a premium, which makes him a first-round option.