2019 NFL Draft order, race for No. 1 pick: Five players the Cardinals could target to turn things around in 2019
The Cardinals have had a forgettable season a year after going 8-8
In recent weeks 49ers, currently on pace for the first-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and who could help the Raiders, who are third in the Race for No. 1. Next up: The Cardinals, who would have the second-overall pick if the season ended today.who could help the
Arizona has been one of the NFL's most enigmatic teams this season; they went 8-8 a season ago with Carson Palmer, Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton starting at quarterback, and a defense that ranked fourth overall, according to Football Outsiders. But coach Steve Wilks, who arrived in the Valley of the Sun after serving as the Panthers defensive coordinator, has struggled in his first year. The defense has been replacement level through 13 games but the offense has bottomed out, ranking dead least in rushing and 31st in passing.
Part of that is because rookie quarterback Josh Rosen has been the starter since Week 14, and not surprisingly, he hasn't been consistent. But the offensive line has done him no favors; that unit ranks 20th in pass protection. Also not helping: the O-line is 20th in run blocking, which goes a long way in explaining why David Johnson is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and has exactly one 100-plus-yard rushing game.
Knowing this, which players could the Cards target with the No. 3 pick to turn things around the fastest?
- Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama. The draft's best offensive tackle who could solidify the left side of the line for Rosen and the Cardinals for the next decade.
- D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss. Metcalf's college season came to an end in October after he suffered a neck injury. But he declared for the draft several weeks ago, an indication that he's good to go. We'll learn more in the coming weeks and months but when Metcalf's healthy, he's the best wideout in this class. He routinely high-points the ball makes contested catches as well as anyone in college football. He also has the ability to create separation on deep routes, which would give Rosen another much-needed downfield weapon.
- Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama. A rangy, physical centerfielder who would upgrade a secondary that lacks a true playmaker.
- Greedy Williams, CB, LSU. Williams' athleticism is off the charts and he shows glimpses of being an elite talent. He occasionally takes plays off, and but if he can play consistently from one play to the next he could be special. Also: Imagine him and Patrick Peterson on the field at the same time.
- Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State. If Bosa is there you take him, no questions asked. As it stands, Bosa will be the first player off the board, and even though the Cardinals don't have glaring needs at pass rusher -- Chandler Jones is under contract until 2022 -- former second-round pick Markus Golden, who is in the final year of his rookie deal, hasn't realized his potential. Bosa is a transformative player who would go a long way in making Arizona's defense again one of the league's best.
(Note: In the table below, the teams are sorted from "most likely to have the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft" to "least likely" using two different methods. The "Current record" column does what the name suggests: Teams are first sorted by their '18 records, strength of schedule, via Tankathon. The other column is sorted by the "SportsLine's preseason projected draft order." Finally, here's if you'd like to see who we have each team taking.)
SportsLine preseason projected draft order
San Francisco (3-10)
New York Jets (4-9)
Tampa Bay (5-8)
New York Giants (5-8)
Green Bay (5-7-1)
Oakland (via Cowboys)* (8-5)
Chicago (to Oakland)** (9-4)
Los Angeles Chargers (10-3)
New England (9-4)
New Orleans (to Green Bay) (11-2)***
Kansas City (11-2)
Los Angeles Rams (11-2)
* Dallas sent its 2019 first-round pick to Oakland as part of the Amari Cooper trade.
** Chicago sent its 2019 first-round pick to Oakland as part of the Khalil Mack trade.
*** New Orleans sent its 2019 first-round pick to Green Bay to draft Marcus Davenport in 2018.
Arizona at Atlanta
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
These two teams are among the biggest disappointments of the 2018 season. The Cardinals were 8-8 last season without a quarterback. Now, in Steve Wilks' first year on the job, Arizona is 3-10 and one of the league's worst teams. The Falcons aren't much better. Yes, their defense has suffered through injuries to key players, but that doesn't explain the five-game losing streak given how explosive this offense can be. At this point, both teams are playing for draft position. The biggest question for us is if the Cards will stick by Wilks or look for an offensive-minded head coach to develop rookie quarterback Josh Rosen.
Houston at New York Jets
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
The Texans finally lost last week snapping a nine-game losing streak. Barring some weirdness by the Chiefs or Pats, Houston will almost certainly be the AFC's No. 3 seed, and we can't imagine the four-win Jets will do anything to alter that. Todd Bowles' days in New York appeared numbered; after a 10-6 debut in 2015, Bowles has had back-to-back five-win seasons. In related news, the Jets haven't been to the playoffs since 2010, Mark Sanchez's second year in the NFL.
Oakland at Cincinnati
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Raiders are coming off their most impressive win of the season, a comeback win over the Steelers. The Bengals lost to the Chargers but the game was much closer than it should've been. Both teams have officially been out of the playoff conversation for weeks but neither played like it last Sunday. Derek Carr finally appears to be comfortable in Jon Gruden's offense and Jeff Driskel has been a pleasant surprise in Andy Dalton's absence.
Tennessee at New York Giants
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Giants have won four of their last five games and they should be 5-0 over that span if not for imploding against the Eagles back in Week 12. New York demolished the Redskins on Sunday, even without Odell Beckham Jr., and with each passing game we're that much closer to the team announcing that Eli Manning will return for 2019. The Titans have been a team of streaks this season and they've currently won two in a row after dominating the Jaguars on Thursday. Tennessee has won four of six, and at 7-6, share the same record as the sixth-seed Ravens but trail them (and the Colts and Dolphins) in tiebreakers. This is a must-win game to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Washington at Jacksonville
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
If you love high-level quarterback play, this game is not for you. Now that we think about it, we have no idea who this game is for. Two truly terrible teams though for different reasons; the Redskins have been decimated by injuries while the Jaguars are reportedly victims of infighting (and not having an NFL quarterback on the roster hasn't helped either) Masochism aside, there is no reason to watch this game.
Detroit at Buffalo
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
The Lions are 5-8 and the Bills are 4-9. It's fair to say that Detroit has woefully underachieved this season -- they went 9-7 in 2016 and 2017 and Jim Caldwell was fired -- and Buffalo has exceeded expectations, especially since Nathan Peterman, Derek Andersonand Matt Barkley combined to start five games while Josh Allen was injured. But Allen is healthy and running through defenses on a weekly basis. He's rushed for 490 yards in nine games, and averages 7.4 yards per run. In his last three games he has rushing totals of 99, 135 and 101. For some perspective, LeSean McCoy has 479 rushing yards in 12 games.
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