Every year at some point during the football season you’ll hear some writer say, “(Best college team) could probably beat (worst NFL team),” which is complete and utter nonsense. For example, if Alabama played either the Chiefs or Jaguars, they’d lose by 30+. The level of talent between college and the pros even on the worst NFL teams is enormous. With that disclaimer out of the way, if I were given the choice between taking the Cardinals’ OL or Alabama’s OL, I’d take Alabama’s in a heartbeat. I’d probably also take Texas A&M’s OL. That’s just sad that 2 college OLs may be better than Arizona’s.
The Cardinals gave up 58 sacks in the passing game last year (worst in the NFL), and they ran for 3.4 yards per carry in the run game (also worst in the NFL). However, while the Cardinals need help across the entire OL, the biggest problem area was on the edges. With all 3 stud OTs and Geno Smith already gone, the Cardinals could potentially draft one of the stud OGs, Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper. However, I think the better value here would be to add some help in the trenches on the other side of the ball in Star Lotulelei.
The following is a chart of NFL pass:run ratios in 2012. Note the bottom of the chart. 2 of the 3 most run heavy teams in the NFL reside in the NFC West with the Cardinals:
|Team||Rushing attempts||Passing attempts||Total plays||Pass %|
Defensively, the Cardinals are going to have chase Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson around for the next 10 years. Lotulelei is a phenomenal athlete for his size, who has the quickness to get after the QB in short areas. Lotulelei isn’t exactly Sam Adams in terms of anchoring against double teams, but he’s the kind of quick, disruptive force that is better suited to defend the read option. Players with his combination of power, quickness, and speed are rare.
Darnell Dockett turns 32 in May and could already be in decline. Lotulelei would give the Cards a guy that can play all over the line, making him an extremely valuable chess piece kind of player. The Cardinals could use him as a rotational piece early on, with the idea that he would eventually take over as the starter for Dockett.
OL help will have to wait until Round 2, where guys like Terron Armstead and Kyle Long could still be in play, but under the circumstances Lotulelei is too good to pass up at 7.