In the upcoming NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals sit at a difficult position at pick 16. Likely too late for the most elite talent available, is a trade for an earlier pick an option for the Cardinals to move up and get a franchise player in cornerback Patrick Surtain II?
Patrick Surtain Could Be Worth Trading Up For If You’re the Cardinals
Patrick Surtain II
Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II is the consensus number one cornerback option in the draft. One of the most elite defensive options available, Surtain II boasts a refined coverage ability and playmaking potential that makes him an attractive prospect on the NFL level. Although perhaps lacking top-level speed, his coverage skills are immense. His technique and instincts belie those of someone his age. Patrick Surtain II is the most complete cornerback in this draft.
He is a gifted athlete and football player that will undoubtedly be highly touted coming into the league. If the Arizona Cardinals were to move up in the draft, it would be to draft the perennial successor to Patrick Peterson in Patrick Surtain II.
Moving up for Patrick Surtain II
First, let’s take a look at the obstacles ahead of Arizona in the draft that would force them to move up for Surtain II. Surtain II has been projected all over the top ten picks in the draft. Most recently, Lance Zierlein’s Mock Draft 3.0 saw Surtain II fly off the board at fourth overall to the Atlanta Falcons. If that was to be the case on April 29th, then the Cardinals would have no chance of trading into or above that position.
However, some other mock drafts have focused on the need for offensive players at the top of the draft. This is why Surtain II could slide beyond where his talent has him ranked. If Surtain II was to make it past the Falcons at four, then the absolute lowest he could slide is the Dallas Cowboys. Surtain II’s selection somewhere in the run between the Carolina Panthers at eighth overall and the Cowboys at tenth is perhaps the most likely, with the Denver Broncos at ninth also having a massive need at the position.
The Detroit Lions at seven do need the position still, but, given the need for an offensive weapon after the departure of Kenny Golladay and the fact that they used their third overall pick last year on another cornerback in Jeff Okudah, taking another corner first would be less likely. If Surtain II is still on the board, the Cardinals would have to leapfrog to at least eighth to get him.
Trading up to eighth
So why eighth? There is a growing sentiment that the Carolina Panthers will look for a quarterback in the upcoming draft. They were notably amongst the suitors for disgruntled Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Zierlein recently suggested Mac Jones as a possibility for Matt Rhule’s new squad. There has been some suggestion that the first three, even four, picks could be quarterbacks. However, five quarterbacks could go in the first round. Between the Panthers pick at eight and the Cardinals pick at sixteen, there isn’t an overwhelming need for quarterbacks, other than maybe the New England Patriots.
In this scenario then, the Cardinals could move up to address their most glaring need this offseason and secure an NFL-caliber talent and possible cornerstone of their franchise. As for the Panthers, if they were confident in Jones or even Justin Fields sliding back to sixteen, given the lack of demand 9-15, then they could gain significant draft capital and still get their quarterback prospect.
Is moving up for Patrick Surtain feasible?
Unfortunately, there are several barriers to a potential move for Surtain II. Atlanta is certainly a team to watch in the sweepstakes for the Alabama standout. Arizona cannot move beyond the Falcons. Any move would have to occur on draft night, in the instance that Atlanta goes in a different direction.
Secondly, moving up into the top ten of the draft is an expensive proposition. Arizona general manager Steve Keim has been adept at flipping draft picks for proven NFL talents. Both DeAndre Hopkins and Rodney Hudson were acquired for picks in the upcoming 2021 draft. Subsequently, the Cardinals do not have picks in either the third or fourth rounds. Therefore the Cardinals lack the draft capital to try and leverage a trade.
In terms of trading future picks, the Cardinals do have a divisional advantage. Arizona is the only team in the NFC West to be currently slated for a first-round selection in 2022. Therefore, moving that 2022 first-round pick is the best asset the Cardinals have to bargain with. It is a valuable pick as a first-rounder. Also, in losing it, their divisional rivals wouldn’t gain an advantage over them in next year’s draft.
Will the Cardinals move up for Patrick Surtain II?
Ultimately, moving up for Patrick Surtain II is an incredibly difficult proposition for the Arizona Cardinals. Any move would likely be a draft-day blockbuster. Surtain II would have to clear Atlanta at fourth overall for Arizona to have even a chance at selecting him. Furthermore, although Surtain II is the clear top player, there is a depth in the draft at cornerback. Both Jaycee Horn and Caleb Farley have been mocked to the Cardinals down at sixteenth. Moving up for Surtain would be bold, costly, and even unnecessary. However, Keim has a track record of making renegade moves with Arizona’s draft picks. Although unlikely, a move for the draft’s best corner can’t be ruled out.
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