Three NFL draft scenarios that could play out for the Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals have identified eight to 10 prospects whom general manager Steve Keim and his scouts have rated as “blue-chip-type players” ahead of the 2020 NFL draft, which begins on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC/ESPN App).

With the No. 8 overall pick in the draft, the Cardinals will be able to grab one of those players. Among the many potential scenarios that can play out, here are three to keep an eye on for the Cardinals:

Add more depth at wide receiver

The Cardinals traded for, perhaps, the best wide receiver in football last month in DeAndre Hopkins, but there’s still room to add more pass-catchers, even after drafting three receivers last season. If Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb or Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy are on the board at No. 8, Keim will consider them.

“You want to look at the long-term contracts that you have in place, whether guys can play inside or outside at those [receiver] positions,” Keim said. “So, if there’s a player that we coveted and it’s at the right spot and somebody that we’re high on, we’ll certainly take advantage of that.

“Again, I say this every year. Your needs are always changing. So, just because it may look like on the surface that we’re not as needy at wide receiver, that could change pretty quickly.”

This year’s class of receivers is “excellent,” Keim said, adding there’s a mix of receivers with speed and ones with size.

“It’s kind of pick your poison,” Keim said. “What are you looking for? Are you looking for an X? Are you looking for Z? You can get them in every round. There are going to be guys that, just like last year’s draft, go in later rounds that have production and turn out to be good players, but there’s four or five of those guys at the top that are really, really exciting to watch.”

One of those is Lamb, who played with Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray at Oklahoma. Murray has been lobbying Keim and coach Kliff Kingsbury to draft his former teammate — as well as offensive linemen, a tight end and a running back, but not a single defensive player, Keim said.

“I’m not really sure that he’s a guy I’m going to hang my hat on when it comes to draft day,” Keim said.

Add an offensive tackle

Keim, a former college offensive linemen himself, said he had “a lot of fun stacking” this year’s crop of tackles, which could see three or four go in the top 15 picks.

When looking for a tackle, Keim said position flexibility is a necessary trait because of how often defenses are moving outside linebackers and defensive ends around to take advantage of mismatches. This year’s class of tackles is as diverse as they are deep, Keim said.

Keim broke down the top of the class:

  • Andrew Thomas, Georgia: “[He] is a guy who’s probably one of the best pass protectors.”

  • Mekhi Becton, Louisville: “[He is] freakish and one of the most powerful, gives you that ‘wow’ factor.”

  • Tristan Wirfs, Iowa: “[He] has got tremendous upside athletically, does things out in space that are amazing, and you’d like to think that he’s just going to continue to get better and better.”

  • Jedrick Wills, Jr., Alabama: “He can play guard, he can play right tackle, he’s tough, he’s nasty. It brings so many different things to the table that you get excited about.”

Trade down … or up:

Keim was as specific as he could be — it is smokescreen season after all — when it comes to potential trades: The Cardinals might trade down … or they might trade up.

“There are certainly opportunities that we’ll look at if they present themselves and trading back is one of them,” Keim said. “We’ve even had some conversations about trading up if the opportunity presented itself and a player we coveted was there at that spot.”

Keim also said that his conversations with other general managers are just “posturing” and nothing gets done until a team is on the clock.

“We’ll look at every opportunity to go up, to go back.”

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