By Kaelen Jones
Buzz continues to build with the 2017 NFL draft just a week away. Intrigue throughout the Valley remains over speculation of whom the Arizona Cardinals should select with their first-round pick, the 13th overall selection.
Who should the Cards choose with their early pick?
Areas of need should top the list, ESPN college football analyst Brock Huard told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat during a recent interview.
“I think you’ve gotta get some people up front,” Huard said. “I think you’ve gotta get some help for Carson (Palmer). (The Cardinals are) in win-now mode. I think they’ve got some more pressing needs in their secondary, as well.”
With Arizona’s starter quarterback, Palmer, entering his 15th season in the NFL at 37 years old, selecting his potential replacement has been a popular assertion throughout the offseason.
Several draft pundits consider this year’s quarterback crop to be a weak lot, but Huard has identified a couple of players who bear high potential.
He says after speaking with NFL personnel, “I’ve kinda landed on this synopsis of this quarterback class: Deshaun Watson is my favorite person, and Patrick Mahomes is the most intriguing to me. Outside of those two, I wouldn’t consider anybody else in the first round.”
Watson is a 6-foot-2, 222-pound signal-caller from Clemson who made back-to-back National Championship appearances, and led the No. 2 Tigers to an upset victory over No. 1 Alabama in the last year’s title game to close out his college career. Huard said he loves Watson for three reasons: He’s a winner, he’s elevates his teammates, and his personality is infectious.
“I’ve seen him on and off the field — he’s magnetic,” Huard said. “He’s the kind of guy that walks in and, as (Seattle Seahawks GM) John Schneider loves to say, ‘changes the temperature in the room and in your program.’ He’s that guy.”
Mahomes, the other quarterback Huard says he’d consider selecting in the first round this year, is a 6-foot-2, 225-pound gunslinger from Texas Tech whose arm talent is something that’s been very apparent to Huard.
“Every time I’m overwhelmed by the physical skill set,” he said.
You can feel what it’s like to prep for a Pro Day right here:https://t.co/Vzu9BUAEgu
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) April 15, 2017
Some have compared Mahomes with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, though Huard explained why the players differ, noting the former Red Raider’s physique is slighter.
“(Mahomes is) much more athletic than Roethlisberger,” Huard said. “(He) can run and create in incredibly unique ways. What they can do and how they spin a football, and how they can do it on different platforms… I see where the comparisons may be made with creativity and arm strength, but as far as size and stature and strength and those things in the pocket, you have very different guys.”
Mahomes: “I’ll always have that (gunslinger mentality). Now it’s going to be about using it at the right time.” https://t.co/PWBy0PkFA1
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) April 14, 2017
The Cardinals are doing their due diligence in assessing both players — or at least are making it appear as though they have — considering both Watson and Mahomes have already met with Arizona.
Until April 27, whether they’re truly interested in either player will simply be speculation.