With the 7th pick of the Blogging the bEast mock draft, the Arizona Cardinals select Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

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 %
Lions 391 740 1131 65.4
Cowboys 355 658 1013 65
Saints 370 671 1041 64.5
Cardinals 352 608 960 63.3
Jaguars 358 586 944 62.7
Raiders 376 629 1005 62.6
Falcons 378 615 993 61.9
Eagles 413 618 1031 59.9
Titans 378 540 918 58.8
Colts 440 628 1068 58.8
Browns 396 566 962 58.8
Steelers 412 574 986 58.2
Buccaneers 416 566 982 57.6
Rams 410 557 967 57.6
Giants 409 539 948 56.9
Packers 433 558 991 56.3
Chargers 411 528 939 56.2
Ravens 444 560 1004 55.8
Bengals 430 540 970 55.7
Patriots 523 641 1164 55.1
Broncos 481 588 1069 55
Bills 442 511 953 53.6
Dolphins 440 504 944 53.4
Texans 508 554 1062 52.2
Panthers 462 490 952 51.5
Bears 470 485 955 50.8
Jets 494 493 987 49.9
Vikings 486 483 969 49.5
Chiefs 500 475 975 48.7
49ers 492 436 928 47
Redskins 519 442 961 46
Seahawks 536 405 941 43

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.

Previous picks:

1. Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

2. Jaguars: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

3. Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

4. Eagles: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon

5. Lions: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

6. Browns: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

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