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2021 NFL Mock Draft: Arizona Cardinals collect cornerback

With the 16th overall pick in the 2021 Bleeding Green Nation community mock draft, Arizona Cardinals GM Carson Wentzs ACL selects ...

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Northwestern at Indiana Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

With the 16th overall pick in the NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals select: Greg Newsome II. Cornerback. Northwestern. Ah, to be drunk with power. Such as it is for us, the armchair general managers of billion dollar sports franchises. And sure, in a perfect world we would turn off the salary cap settings and overload our teams with generational talent at every position, but life demands the urgency of competitive play where one raises the Lombardi as a result of collective valor. But I digress, let’s keep it interesting beyond the point of view of a team in a total rebuild retooling such as the Eagles and turn our sights towards a different interesting team and interesting player (The Arizona Cardinals and Greg Newsome II, respectively).

THE PLAYER

There’s no mistaking the talent the Northwestern prospect possesses; what’s harder is projecting just how high he might land on the draft board. At 6’1’’, he is a long and twitchy player, aggressive on ball reads with quick cuts of speed to catch up with close-range targets and jump slants in the zone. His high football IQ makes him deadly in coverage, with quick hips in transition and an ability to flip around quickly to breakup passes before the ball ever gets to its destination. He definitely has a high floor.

The question marks that eek into frame place his ceiling in question. At 190 pounds, he is certainly a lean player and will want to stack on some additional weight in order to compete on the professional level. Despite his quick cuts, he may not be able to keep up with his own 4.38 40 time as his pro day may suggest, struggling to have a bigger motor during longer drives. Perhaps the biggest question mark arises with his durability. Over three seasons with Northwestern, he has suffered from an injury in each of his three seasons played, suffering from an ankle injury as a freshman, an undisclosed injury as a sophomore, and a groin injury as a junior during the 2020 big 10 championship.THE NEED

Picture this, you are the Arizona Cardinals, and you just lost your long-term starting cornerback, Patrick Peterson, to the Minnesota Vikings. Sure, you sign an aging Malcolm Butler to a one year, 6m deal. As the 15th top cornerback in the league, per PFF, that’s not bad. However, the 31 year old may only have so much gas left in the tank. Despite having a career year with the Titans in 2020, their move of cutting Butler 3 years into a 5 year deal, albeit saving some salary cap space, was a calculated one. And so was the move for Arizona to sign him to a one-year ‘prove it’ deal. This team, with players like Larry Fitzgerald, and newly acquired JJ Watt, is a fun, but aging team. Also, you would have to figure that losing Patrick Peterson further leaves a hole in locker room leadership, so it’s time to turn the page and go younger through the draft. The team was ranked 13th in total defense for 2020, and with a scary front seven that includes players like JJ Watt, Jordan Hicks, Chandler Jones, and a young Isaiah Simmons, the team can’t afford for the back end to fall off. Of course, cornerback isn’t the only need on the team. the Cards also lost running back Kenyan Drake last year and are stuck with *adjusts glasses* Chase Edmonds, Eno Benjamin and Jonathan Ward? Sheesh.

Considering a combination of Arizona punditry and my countless mock drafts, at 16 it is very likely that the top two ranked cornerbacks, Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn, are already off the board. Enter my dilemma: Do I go the safe route and draft the arguably biggest need at cornerback with the third best option in Greg Newsome II? Or do I go the sexy and risky route of drafting the top running back prospect, Najee Harris at 16 overall?

THE VERDICT

At the end of the day, need wins out with Greg Newsome II. While running back is one of my favorite positions, the workload of even top backs can make them degrade quickly (I.e. Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliot) and you have to believe that you can draft a solid running back at a lower position. Taking a risk isn’t always sexy (*cough* *cough* JJ Arcega-Whiteside over DK Metcalf). There’s also talks of free agent running back James Conner giving the Cards a visit also, so we shall keep our eyes on that.

Realistically, the Cards really could, and in my opinion probably should, trade back. Newsome II seems to often sneak into the first round, sure, but anywhere from the low to high 20s range, and the Cards only have FIVE picks this year and THREE picks next year so far. Especially when you have aging players like Malcolm Butler, JJ Watt, Larry Fitzgerald, etc. you are going to need to keep the young blood consistent to match with your free agency patchwork to maximize young Kyler Murray’s window. Unfortunately, the BGN overlords said ‘nay’ when thinking trades, so I, master strategist Steve Keim, will stand pat and happily draft my cornerback of the future.

Poll

Do you approve of this pick?

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Yes
    (164 votes)
  • 42%
    No
    (119 votes)
283 votes total Vote Now

2021 BGN Mock Draft Order

1) Jaguars (Phoenix X Minimus): QB Trevor Lawrence
2) Jets (eagles.north.of.the.border): QB Zach Wilson
3) 49ers (I Need a Username): QB Trey Lance
4) Falcons (chewy wellington): OT Penei Sewell
5) Bengals (Dr_Horrible): WR Ja’Marr Chase
6) Dolphins (20Safety_Hazard): TE Kyle Pitts
7) Lions (drc242): WR DeVonta Smith
8) Panthers (wildcatlh): QB Justin Fields
9) Broncos (ItownBallers22): CB Patrick Surtain II
10) Cowboys (Kephas): OT Rashawn Slater
11) Giants (Billmington): WR Jaylen Waddle
12) Eagles (ablesser88): CB Jaycee Horn
13) Chargers (Georgia_eagle): LB Micah Parsons
14) Vikings (Philliesandthebees): OT Alijah Vera-Tucker
15) Patriots (SakPrescott): QB Mac Jones
16) Cardinals (Carson Wentzs ACL): CB Greg Newsome II
17) Raiders (dshelton5):
18) Dolphins (J. Wil):
19) Football Team (Negadelphia Norm):
20) Bears (Happy24):
21) Colts (Fly Like An Eagle):
22) Titans (Friendly Neighborhood Philly Fan):
23) Jets (Asap Stocky):
24) Steelers (Gregnado):
25) Jaguars (“Snax”):
26) Browns (gerouxman1956):
27) Ravens (Brendanekstrom):
28) Saints (grantspectations):
29) Packers (Philly_Philly):
30) Bills (doublefry):
31) Chiefs (Leo Bedio):
32) Buccaneers (phuckdallas):


Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2021 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.

Poll

Who should the Arizona Cardinals draft at No. 16?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    CB Greg Newsome II
    (42 votes)
  • 33%
    CB Caleb Farley
    (78 votes)
  • 15%
    OT Christian Darrisaw
    (37 votes)
  • 4%
    DE Gregory Rousseau
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    DE Jaelan Phillips
    (7 votes)
  • 14%
    DE Kwity Paye
    (33 votes)
  • 3%
    RB Travis Etienne
    (8 votes)
  • 8%
    RB Najee Harris
    (20 votes)
235 votes total Vote Now

1) Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence
2) Jets: QB Zach Wilson:
3) 49ers: QB Justin Fields
4) Falcons: OT Penei Sewell
5) Bengals: WR Ja’Marr Chase
6) Dolphins: TE Kyle Pitts
7) Lions: WR DeVonta Smith
8) Panthers: OT Rashawn Slater
9) Broncos: QB Trey Lance
10) Cowboys: CB Patrick Surtain II
11) Giants: LB Micah Parsons
12) Eagles: WR Jaylen Waddle
13) Chargers: CB Jaycee Horn
14) Vikings: OT Alijah Vera-Tucker
15) Patriots: QB Mac Jones
16) Cardinals: