Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson throws at the NFL Scouting combine.
It is finally here. The first round of the draft will begin on Thursday at 5 p.m. Arizona time and the Cardinals have the No. 15 overall selection. Numerous analysts have put on their general manager hat in an attempt to correctly handicap the first round. Here are the final choices for the Cardinals on various mock drafts as General Manager Steve Keim prepares for his all-important selection:
QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville (picked by ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., CBS Sports' Will Brinson, Bleacher Report's Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, ESPN's NFL Nation, The Athletic's Chris Burke, Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller): As Keim said last week, it's no secret the Cardinals would love to secure a franchise quarterback in the draft. Jackson could be the best available signal-caller if the team remains at No. 15, and this is a very popular pairing by analysts. There are concerns about Jackson's accuracy, but he is an electric talent with his legs.
CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville(picked by Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, The Ringer's Danny Kelly, Pro Football Weekly's Eric Edholm): This is a player who has been linked to the Cardinals for several weeks. Alexander is listed at 5-foot-11 and 192 pounds with top-notch speed and athleticism. He would be a candidate to finally give Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson a stable complement on the other side of the field.
WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama (picked by NFL Network's Bucky Brooks, Charley Casserly and Charles Davis): Ridley and Maryland's D.J. Moore are generally viewed as the two best pass-catchers in the draft. The Cardinals have a need at the position, and Ridley has plenty of experience, which could allow him to step in and contribute as a rookie.
QB Josh Rosen, UCLA (picked by NFL Network's Mike Mayock, ESPN's Todd McShay): Two prominent draft analysts have Rosen heading to the Cardinals. McShay projects the team trading up to grab him, while Mayock has Rosen going at No. 15. The Bruins' signal-caller may be the most polished quarterback prospect in the draft and would fill a big need.
ILB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech (picked by NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah): It would be a bit of a surprise to see Edmunds on the board at No. 15, as he is projected to go in the top-10. The Cardinals have talented players at linebacker, but this could fit in the best-player-available realm if the Cardinals believe Edmunds' talent is too good to pass up.
CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State (picked by WalterFootball.com's Charlie Campbell): The Buckeyes' cover man has been pegged as the best cornerback in the draft. Most analysts project him to get picked before No. 15. If Ward is still available when the Cardinals are on the clock, he could be in the conversation.
QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (picked by MMQB's Peter King): There is growing buzz that Mayfield will go No. 1 overall to the Browns. If that happens, the Cardinals won't have a shot at him. In King's mock draft, he has the Cardinals trading up to grab the prolific Sooners signal-caller.
OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame (picked by Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer): The Cardinals added veteran Andre Smith to play right tackle in 2018, but the position is in flux for the long-term. The selection of McGlinchey could help stabilize the spot and give the Cardinals a pair of first-round bookends on the line with D.J. Humphries at left tackle.
CB Josh Jackson, Iowa (picked by CBS Sports' Pete Prisco): Another cornerback option to pair with Peterson. Jackson had a phenomenal season in 2017, finishing with eight interceptions and 27 passes defensed. He didn't run as fast as Alexander at the combine, and teams must decide whether his strengths can mitigate average speed.
Images of some of the top quarterback prospects heading into the draft