This division just gets tougher and tougher
The Cardinals have the monumental task of rebuilding while the other teams in the division are still ascending or at their peak. Given that, it's hard not to appreciate what they've done through the first three rounds. Not jaw-dropping stuff, but their picks have been weirdly placed right where talent drops off. Cooper wasn't an inspired pick, but he's among the best of the second tier of high first round talent (not elite, but very, very good).
So he's probably the right pick given the way the draft flowed. He should be a very good interior player with consistent Pro Bowler potential. In the second they traded back for Minter, which was the pick that started that really weird run in the 2nd round on players who had projections all over the place. Minter seems like a perfectly serviceable LB, and I saw first round projections. But, I wonder if the Cards won't look back and regret passing on Arthur Brown. Identical height/weight but Brown looked the better player to me.
As for Mathieu, I thought the Cards might continue overhauling the offensive line but they opt for the defensive playmaker instead. I've never been as high on Mathieu as some. However, the Cardinals should know more about him than anyone because they have a personal connection. (Evidently, he dated the step-daughter of an assistant coach.) In fact, I wonder if the Cards gave him a guarantee and requested he stop meeting with other teams.
It's hard not to appreciate what the Niners have done so far. They had a lot of liquidity coming into the draft and they've not had a problem using it either. I might quibble with passing on Matt Elam for Eric Reid, but that's pretty minor. Their vision is clear. They needed to replace lost talent and add depth. Lemonier might be an inspired pick. Good work Niners. Bastages.
I think if we're all honest, the guy who scares us long-term is Jeff Fisher. Saint Louis is seriously re-stocking, and if they get it turned around this might be a poor man's equivalent of the Russell Okung/Earl Thomas draft that solidifies their core. Now, before we start preparing Les Snead's bust for Canton, you can see where each of these picks has a potentially fatal flaw. Austin may be just a bit too small to be consistently effective. Ogletree may be too self-destructive. McDonald too slow. Bailey too much of a system player.
But, each one of these guys is a high upside player while none is an unreasonable gamble. Having said all that, the Rams still have BIG issues on the offensive line. It will be interesting to see if they look to address that area early in the 4th round.
I thought the Michael selection was inspired, time-capsule stuff, especially after trading back into practically the 3rd round. In a draft where the team really didn't need anything, Seattle traded back practically into the third round and walked away with a high upside potential replacement for Beast Mode. This is exactly the right time in Lynch's career to implement the committee approach that both Carroll and Cable love.
By the way, I suspect they plan to keep Turbin in his current role (emphasis on the passing game), which is perfect for his skill set. Oh, and if we had any doubts about how the team values the WILLs in this draft note that they passed on Arthur Brown, Sio Moore, and Zavier Gooden.
The Jordan Hill pick is just meh. I see him as an "upper-middle class" Craig Terrill. He should be a serviceable rotational 3-technique (and occasional 1-technique) along with Greg Scruggs, Clinton McDonald and Jaye Howard. He may even be more than that by moving to the 3-technique full time after playing mostly 1-technique at Penn State. I would have preferred Stedman Bailey or another high upside receiver, but the WRs have really fallen. So, there should be big value today.