Big-screen signals Arizona's pick submission in the 2019 NFL Draft. Photo courtesy of Cards Wire - USA Today
With the first round pick of the 2021 NFL Draft the Arizona Cardinals select... No one. That's right NO ONE, here's why.
In our mock draft a major trade made sense for two teams: the Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers would send the Cardinals picks; #39, #73, and #113 in this years draft, as well as their second and third round picks for the following year. In return, the Cardinals would send Carolina the 16th overall pick and the 161st overall as well. Carolina is able to move up, and the Cardinals gain prime draft capital for this year and the next.
So, now that I've broken some Arizonan hearts, let's get to Round 2!
Round 2, Pick 39 - Michigan OT Jalen Mayfield
Video retrieved via Youtube
For their first pick they go for protection with Michigan Wolverine tackle Jalen Mayfield. The big fella has earned his adjective! Toting around 325 pounds with a 6-foot-5-inch frame isn't easy, but he makes it look that way. He's fairly explosive, and had to be, playing in the rough-and-tumble Big Ten conference where linemen are king. He's faced off against some of the most fierce defensive players the conference had to offer in his short tenure as right tackle in Ann Arbor. That list includes the likes of the 2020 second overall pick, Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young, so Mayfield is no stranger to beasts.
He only played two games in the 2020 season and that is precisely why he could drop a few picks, right into the Cardinals' hands. He's a huge guy with potential to start, and major upside given some time. The Cardinals are piecing together what could be a special team, so head coach Kliff Kingsbury should prioritize protection to keep the trend moving upwards in this competitive division. Pick 39 would be well spent on the kid, so let's roll down further into the second round to pick 49.
Round 2, Pick 49 - Florida State CB Asante Samuel Jr.
Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. intercepts a pass. Photo courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel.
For the Cards' second pick of the draft, none other than the 10-year NFL veteran's namesake, Florida State Seminole cornerback Asante Samuel Jr.! The guy is not simply riding off his Super Bowl champion father's name though, he's a competitor who demanded teams give him 30 tackles, 3 interceptions, and a forced fumble in 2020. Standing at 5-foot-10-inches the 185-pounder is ranked third of all cornerbacks in this year's draft by CBS Sports.
He's a zone guy, an area the Cardinals could touch on more under defensive coordinator Vance Joseph this year. With four cornerbacks and two safeties set to hit free agency this offseason, grabbing at least one solid secondary player is basically a must. Samuel Jr. can be that guy, that is, if other teams don't "vulture" him first based on calls he's had with the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Chargers. Moving along to the freshly acquired pick 73!
Round 3, Pick 73 - Boston College TE Hunter Long
Boston College tight end Hunter Long hauls in a pass. Photo courtesy of With the First Pick.
After making two picks in the second round, the Cardinals begin with one of two in the third round. With this pick they acquired via trade from the Panthers, they select Boston College Eagles tight end Hunter Long. TEs Dan Arnold and Darrell Daniels are both set to hit free agency, and as mediocre contributors the Cardinals should let them walk easily.
He has a history of ripping big plays for each catch he makes. His freshman year he only had four receptions, but turned that into 103 yards and a couple of touchdowns! The 6-foot-5 threat is coming off his junior year with 57 receptions and five TDs, his progessions have been noticable and well within his skill set. Many analysts have noted that he showed out during the 2021 Reese's Senior Bowl, and added he may have been the best senior TE that attended. He has a chance to add to the offensive line that Kingsbury should be focused on, and become that long-lost TE the Cardinals so desperately need for their redzone attack. Back to an Arizona original pick!
Round 3, Pick 79 Wisconsin-Whitewater C Quinn Meinerz
NFL Network does a Senior Bowl Spotlight on Wisconsin-Whitewater's Quinn Meinerz. Video retrieved via Youtube.
6-foot-3-inches, 320-pounds, explosive, and.... can dunk a basketball?!
Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawk center Quinn Meinerz is quite the athlete, and personality. He was seen after opting out of the 2020 season, piledriving top senior prospects into the ground in Mobile, Alabama during the Senior Bowl this year. He's a very positive and driven young man with a ton of work ethic that would serve any pro squad well.
While he was born and raised in Wisconsin, and his family owns a fishery in Canada. During offseasons he spends a hefty amount of time there, while he only allows himself one hour of internet service a day on the trip (something most 22-year olds wouldn't even dream of). Why is he doing that you may ask? Well to lift gas tanks and hit trees of course! His training, while unorthodox, has something special to it given the fact that he became team MVP in Mobile and that was his first time EVER playing at the center position. You can check out that workout video here. Previously he played guard and defensive end, so that work ethic and versatility are exactly why the D3 prospect is moving up draft boards quickly. The big-bellied bull takes the Cardinals' last pick in the top 100, but instead of a sixth rounder, the Cardinals get a fourth from the Panthers.
Round 4, Pick 113 Houston EDGE Payton Turner
Houston EDGE Payton Turner closes in on BYU wide receiver Neil Pau'u. Photo courtesy of Chargers Wire - USA Today
The Cardinals need help getting to the QB, and Houston Cougar EDGE Payton Turner's 6'-6" 270 frame is a perfectly malleable piece to grab for it in the fourth round. He was a defensive tackle for much of his Houston career before finally optimizing his weight for the end position his final year of play. He rushes with speed which can sometimes make him over run players, but if he gets ahold of the ball handler... lights out.
He slings men to the ground no matter their position on the field or in ESPN's eyes. The overshadowed monster plays unapologetically, and this may come from his lack of limelight. Whatever put the chip on this guy's shoulder, you'd rather find out with him on your team before he's running down your backfield. Being able to move around position-wise and being coachable are two highly sought after attributes for those late round propspects with upside, and Turner has it. If the Cards can take advantage, they absolutely should, especially given there's only one deep pick left for them in the 2021 draft.
Round 7, Pick 242 Ohio State P Dru Chrisman
Ohio State punter Dru Chrisman shows off his skills in this highlight reel. Video retrieved via YouTube.
I know, I know. PUNTER? Yes. Punters are people too. This one in fact, is a phenomenal one. Everyone knows that the seventh round is for a flier you hope contributes to your team. But what if the Cardinals took the former top punting recruit and replace 39-year-old Andy Lee who cost Arizona over $2.5 million last year? Immediately the 7th round becomes an extremely efficient move for the Cards, whereas most teams are just on "auto draft" at this point.
Well now that you're completely sold on the reasoning, let's get to the kid. Ohio State Buckeye P Dru Chrisman has been working throughout the offseason, priming himself for the slim shot he may get. Special teams, a commonly overlooked aspect of the game has become even more important than it ever has. Field position is everything in the NFL, and this young man has been seen putting the ball accurately everywhere on the field he's asked. He's also got the arm and the acting ability to sell the fake. Getting a prize like him and cutting massive dollars to open up more cap space should be a no-brainer at this point, especially with the gap in this draft they are dealing with.
Now! The Cardinals have had a successful draft, placed many building blocks on the team that can help them reach the next level. After a hopefully bountiful free agency season passes, Arizona looks to be a contender next to most of their NFC West brethren. Looking forward, adding to the young team's future are an extra second and third round courtesy of the Panthers. So here it is Arizona fans, this could finally be the year there is redemption for the dreaded Holmes catch, either way "win or lose, we still fly."
Here's to hoping there's more 'winning' than the latter!