With the thirteenth pick in the 2012 BGN Community Mock Draft, NowWhat? selects...
Luke Kuechly: LB, Boston College
First of all, damn you TheRealMcCoy!!!
Now that that's out of the way, time to explain why I'd piss all the Eagles fans off...
Quite simply, it boils down to some simple facts: One, the Cardinals need a lot of help at OL, LB, and S, and could do with depth at WR too, and two, the Cardinals under Ken Whisenhunt have a tendency to go BPA in the draft. When you put the two together, and look at the board to this point, each position has a consensus BPA: Riley Reiff, Luke Kuechly, Mark Barron, and Kendall Wright. Wright and Barron, as good as those players might be, are not worth a pick as high as 13, nor are a #2 receiver or safety even that urgent of a need. This leaves Kuechly and Reiff. We'll come back to these guys in a few minutes, but first we should look at what makes these positions such a need for the Redbirds.
To say the least, the Cardinals' offensive line is truly horrid. They gave up an astounding 54 sacks last season, topped only by their NFC West mates in St. Louis. They also had the fourth lowest third-down conversion in the NFL (Astoundingly, good for 2nd BEST in the sad excuse for a division they are in). If there was one good thing to say about the O-Line and their effect on the offensive whole, it was that their yards/rush attempt was mid-pack for the league. It's quite clear that the offensive line is in need of a serious overhaul on this team.
More after the jump...
Arizona's defense was tepid, but not horrid last year, hanging near the league average. However, their rushing defense left much to be desired, finishing 21st in rushing yards/game, giving up the 7th most rushing TDs, and forcing a mere three rushing fumbles all year. As much as Eagles fans complain about their team's rushing defense, the Cardinals' rush D was actually worse off. The Cardinals could do well to bolster their LB corps alongside of Daryl Washington.
After all of that, you're probably wondering "NW?, it seems clear from the stats that OL is a far higher priority than LB, so why the hell are you taking Kuechly? Is it to screw with your fellow Eagle fans?" Well, maaaaaaaaaaaybe I'm still a little bitter that David DeCastro went to Kansas City, as he would have been a slam dunk pick here (yes, even better than Kuechly), but it's clear that Kuechly is higher on almost every draft board than Reiff, and you need to remember the BPA philosophy the Cardinals have.
Kuechly is as good as a sure thing at LB. His instinctive prowess is legendary, his tackling is solid, and he can shed blocks despite a relatively smaller frame. His work ethic and hustle is exceptional, and he could certainly become another leader on defense in the desert. The best part is that while Kuechly primarily was a 4-3 linebacker, with some added bulk he could easily transition to a 3-4 ILB for Arizona's system.
The final factors in my decision of Kuechly over Reiff are in fact free agency and later rounds of the draft. Following Kuechly and Hightower, the linebacker corps quickly falls off, while the offensive line class appears to be much deeper, especially around pick 80, which (barring trades) is the next time Roger Goodell would put Arizona on the clock. As for free agency, the linebacker class is nearly empty, with the only big name remaining being the (most certainly) one year rental of London Fletcher. On the flip side, there's still a young OT named Marcus McNeill on the market. Long story short, there are many more options available at OT than there are and LB, and Kuechly's the BPA. Sorry, Eagles fans.
Next on the clock will be JimmyK with the Dallas Cowboys.
Previous Picks: #1 Andrew Luck, #2 Robert Griffin III, #3 Morris Claiborne, #4 Trent Richardson, #5 Matt Kalil, #6Justin Blackmon, #7 Melvin Ingram, #8 Ryan Tannehill, #9 Michael Floyd, #10 Dre Kirkpatrick, #11 David DeCastro, #12 Courtney Upshaw