Images of the players who have been drafted with the No. 24 overall pick dating back to 1980. The Cardinals have the 24th pick on Thursday.
After months of speculation and analysis, the draft is here. The Cardinals have the No. 24 overall pick in the first round, which begins Thursday at 5 p.m.
Last season, the Cardinals held the No. 20 selection before trading down to No. 27, where they chose Washington State safety Deone Bucannon. There are myriad opinions on which way the Cardinals will lean this year. Here are some of the prominent mock draft selections for the Cardinals by national NFL reporters:
MELVIN GORDON, RB, WISCONSIN(picked by Peter King, Sports Illustrated; Will Brinson of CBS Sports)
The Cardinals are in need of a bigger back to pair with Andre Ellington, and Gordon fits that mold. He averaged 7.5 yards per carry his final season at Wisconsin and is one of the draft's more complete pass-blockers. There are questions about whether the Cardinals should consider a running back in the first round – where one hasn't been selected in either of the past two years – but if they do, Gordon seems the most likely choice. Georgia's Todd Gurley could be gone before the team chooses, and Gordon is the likely second option.
D.J. HUMPHRIES, OT, FLORIDA (picked by Todd McShay, ESPN; Mike Mayock, NFL Network; Charlie Casserly, NFL.com; Charles Davis, NFL.com)
Jared Veldheer has locked down the left tackle position, but with incumbent right tackle Bobby Massie a free agent after this season, the Cardinals could go with a guy like Humphries in the first round. He is a former five-star recruit who has some work to do fundamentally but has the attributes to be a potential star. There are other bigger current needs, but the thought of Veldheer, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Cooper and Humphries as the line of the future would be intriguing.
Images of the offensive linemen projected to be selected in this year's NFL draft
SHANE RAY, LB, MISSOURI(picked by Pete Prisco, CBS Sports; Matt Miller, Bleacher Report)
Ray was not expected to drop this far originally, but a foot injury and a recent citation for marijuana possession could keep him on the board when the Cardinals pick. He earned the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award in 2014 by compiling 13½ sacks and would fill a pressing need for the Cardinals. Ray seems enticing when only considering the on-field ramifications, but the injury and off-field issue cloud that picture.
CAMERON ERVING, C, FLORIDA STATE (picked by Dane Brugler, CBS Sports)
The Cardinals' biggest question mark on the offensive line is at center, where Ted Larsen and A.Q. Shipley are presently expected to compete for the starting job. Erving, a former left tackle who excelled when moved to center in November, could come in and play immediately. He's the clear-cut best center in the draft and would be a potential long-term replacement after the offseason release of veteran Lyle Sendlein.
RANDY GREGORY, OLB, NEBRASKA (picked by Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com)
Gregory is a top-10 talent who may slip due to a failed drug test at the NFL Scouting combine. He had 17½ sacks the past two years with the Huskers and would have the opportunity for immediate playing time as an edge rusher with the Cardinals. There are reports that some teams have pulled Gregory off their draft boards in recent days due to off-field concerns, and the front office would need to determine if the reward is worth the risk in the case of Gregory.
TODD GURLEY, RB, GEORGIA (picked by Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk; Don Banks, Sports Illustrated)
Gurley is one of the more dynamic running backs the draft has seen in the past few years. However, he tore his ACL during the season and is about five months into his rehabilitation. Any team that drafts Gurley must factor that into their assessment, as he won't be full strength early in the season and there is the worry of lingering issues. There is upside with Gurley – who most project to be gone by the time the Cardinals choose – and he would fill a hole on offense.
ARIK ARMSTEAD, DE. OREGON (picked by Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN)
The Cardinals struck gold when they drafted 6-foot-8 Calais Campbell in the 2008 draft, watching him develop into a Pro Bowl defensive end. While players at that height are a rarity in the NFL, choosing Armstead would give them another initimidating physical presence on the line. Armstead is listed at 6-foot-7 and 292 pounds, with the type of athleticism to become a dominant force. It only showed up in spurts while at Oregon, and he is still very raw. Another Campbell would be a boon for the Cardinals as they aim to beef up their front seven, but Armstead may not have the same immediate impact as other early picks.
JALEN COLLINS, CB, LSU (picked by Peter Schrager, FOX Sports)
The Cardinals need another cornerback following the departure of Antonio Cromartie, and Collins could join former LSU standouts Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu in the Arizona secondary. Collins started only 10 games in college, but has ideal height, weight and speed for the position. This would be a riskier pick, as Collins has a high ceiling but also bust potential after never standing out at LSU. He also reportedly failed multiple drug tests in college, per NFL.com, another reason for concern.