Images of the Cardinals' first-round picks since moving to Arizona in advance of Thursday's first round
The Cardinals have the No. 29 pick in the first round of the NFL draft, which will begin on Thursday at 5 p.m. local time. Last year the team chose tackle D.J. Humphries with the No. 24 pick, which four prognosticators correctly pegged.
Here are some of this year's mock draft selections for the Cardinals by prominent NFL reporters:
Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky (picked by Peter Schrager, FOX Sports; Charles Davis, CBS; Rob Rang, CBS; Lance Zierlein, NFL.com)
Spence has the talent to go higher, but he was suspended at Ohio State for failed drug tests and was arrested for second-degree disorderly conduct after transferring to Eastern Kentucky. If Spence can get past the off-field issues, he has the ability to be a disruptive pass-rusher off the edge.
Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Mississippi (picked by Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com; Nate Davis, USA Today; Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated)
Talent isn't the question here, as Nkemdiche was slated to be a top-5 pick earlier this season. However, he was suspended after falling out of a third-story window before Mississippi's bowl game and was cited for having marijuana in his hotel room. The character evaluation is key, because Nkemdiche can be a difference-maker if the Cardinals are comfortable with his personality.
Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama (picked by Peter King, Sports Illustrated; Dane Brugler, CBS Sports)
Kelly is the highest-rated center and many pundits believe he can slide right in and be a cornerstone on an offensive line for years. The Cardinals have a need with last year's starter, Lyle Sendlein, still a free agent and not expected back. This choice makes a ton of sense, but there are questions as to whether Kelly will still be on the board.
A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (picked by Will Brinson, CBS; Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated)
This would be a case of going with the highest-rated player regardless of need. The Cardinals have other more immediate holes, but if they feel like Robinson can be a longtime fixture on the defensive line, this could be a pick that pays off.
T.J. Green, S/CB, Clemson (picked by Matt Miller, Bleacher Report; Greg Bedard, Sports Illustrated)
Green's stock has skyrocketed over the past week, as his physical gifts make him an intriguing prospect. He is still raw, so a choice like this could be riskier than others. Green's versatility is something the Cardinals like in defensive backs, and if he can play cornerback it could be a particularly valuable choice.
Images of the safety prospects expected to be chosen in the NFL Draft
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (picked by Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN)
If Apple lasts until No. 29 he would be an enticing option. The Cardinals could use another cornerback, and he excels in the man-coverage style they prefer. Apple has an ideal combination of speed, size and length but is also projected to go earlier than this.
Images of the cornerbacks projected to be selected in the draft
William Jackson III, CB, Houston (picked Bucky Brooks, NFL.com)
While most projections have him going higher, the Cardinals could be intrigued if Jackson is still on the board at No. 29. Jackson led the nation in passes defended last season and added five interceptions, and he has good measurables.
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson (picked by Charley Casserly, NFL.com)
Like Apple and Jackson, Alexander is a cover man the Cardinals may consider if available. He is two inches shorter than Jackson and didn't have any interceptions in college, but played against tough competition and held up well.
Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis (picked by Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report)
If Lynch is still available at No. 29, it will be interesting to see what the Cardinals do. If the staff believes he can be the heir apparent to Carson Palmer, this would be a welcome scenario. If Lynch is still available and the Cardinals aren't sold on him, they could try to trade the pick to a team that wants him.
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State (picked by Don Banks, Sports Illustrated)
Another late-first-round option at quarterback, Cook had an impressive win-loss record with the Spartans. He has a good arm but there is concern about his accuracy on short and intermediate throws.
Artie Burns, CB, Miami (picked by Mike Mayock, NFL Network)
Another mock draft, another cornerback pegged to the Cardinals. Some don't have Burns rated this highly, but his blend of size and speed is intriguing. Burns had six interceptions last season but the knock on him is a lack of proper technique.
Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State (picked by Pete Prisco, CBS Sports)
He played guard and tackle in college but could be moved to center as a rookie if the Cardinals select him. A four-year starter, Whitehair is seen as a reasonably safe pick that is a tireless worker and could make an instant impact. His positional versatility could be important in ensuing seasons.
Shilique Calhoun, OLB, Michigan State (picked by Cris Collinsworth, Pro Football Focus)
Calhoun had an ultra-productive college career, amassing 26 sacks over his final three seasons. He played defensive end in college but would slot in as an edge-rusher in the Cardinals' scheme. There are some questions about his ability to beat blockers at the NFL level, but if he can put it all together Calhoun could be a disruptive piece.
Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida (picked by Todd McShay, ESPN)
Bullard has the type of versatility that is welcomed on the Cardinals' defensive line, as he is able to play inside or outside. He isn't the disruptive pass-rushing threat that is so coveted but is a solid all-around player who could start for many years. Bullard had 18 tackles for loss last season.