Backwards Draft Day Strategy: Round 6

It isn't that there is no talent down in the draft (lest we forget, a certain QB named 'Brady' was taken in the sixth round), it's just a little harder to spot. With the Cardinals needing more than just a piece or two, the argument could be made that their sixth round pick could be just as important as their second rounder. In a FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT Cardinal Insider talks safety and guard.

Round 6:


Free Safeties:  Jarrad Page, UCLA, Charlie Peprah, Alabama.


Page is a huge kid for a safety (6'1", 238), so he would also have the possibility of playing in the box in nickel situations.  He was the "hero" in a conference that passes more than it runs (though his liability is in coverage, which is why he's a 6th round prospect).  But, in a top-heavy free safety pool where there are only a couple of "can't miss" prospects, he looks to be a good compromise.  Peprah is average sized (5'10", 205), but played for Alabama, which runs a very complicated defensive scheme and finished at the top of the list in most defensive categories last season.  You don't put up the numbers on defense that ‘Bama did with a huge liability at Free Safety.


Plus which, with Robert Griffith still going pretty strong (I do realize that's a relative term), the Cardinals really just need someone who can learn under Griffith this year and start next year, possibly playing on special teams or in nickel and dime situations; which is why Page would make the most sense.


Other Possibilities:  Darrell Brooks, Arizona, Chris Harrell, Penn State.


Guards:  Chris Kuper, North Dakota, Rob Smith, Tennessee.


If I make nothing else abundantly clear in this preview, it is that the Arizona Cardinals need to get stronger up the middle (on both offense and defense).  While there are more NFL ready guards and defensive tackles to be found in earlier rounds, the team may go offense or get skill-position-crazy on Day 1.  Whatever happens, they need to come out of this draft with at least one guard and at least one defensive tackle.  These two gentlemen fit the bill.


Chris Kuper has more potential, since he played against a lower level of competition and hasn't shown what he can do against elite athletes.  However, he shows good technique, makes up for his lack of physical prowess with effort and intelligence, and plays with consistency and determination.  But, he's a sixth round prospect because North Dakota is not a perennial powerhouse and because he couldn't find the weight room with a compass, a metal detector, a map and a native guide.  He's tall, soft, and awkward, but you could do a lot worse at this point in the draft.


That's not the best way to segue into Rob Smith, but what the heck.  Smith might actually be a better prospect, since he's more polished, has played against better competition and shows more strength and tenacity at the point of attack.  His hole is that he spends a lot of time inactive because of injuries.  He also leaves a lot to be desired in terms of technique.  All that having been said, if he learns proper technique in the Cardinals' system and can stay healthy, he'll be a serviceable guard for years to come.  And, at this point, serviceable is an upgrade in the middle of the offensive line.


Other Possibilities:  Tre' Stallings, Mississippi, Jeff Bolton, Montana State.


Defensive Tackles:  Domata Peko, Michigan State, Sir Henry Anderson, Oregon State.


Both these gentlemen are strong, good at occupying space, and excel at using leverage to gain an advantage against an offensive lineman.  They're both about the same size (6'3, 310), and both played in a major conference.  As run-stuffers, Peko is better suited because he played in the Big 10, but has more character issues and injury concerns (although Anderson did miss all of the 2002 season due to injury).


They both fit the bill of being a big guy that takes up space in the middle.  Neither is particularly explosive, neither will be a pass rushing threat, and both would be two down guys at best.  But, with the Cardinals in dire need of help up the middle and either of these two guys available in Round 6, they'd be good pick-ups.


Other possibilities:  Manaia Brown, BYU, Gerald Anderson, Georgia.


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