It's no secret that the Cardinals are in desperate need of help along the offensive line, especially at left tackle with the loss of Leonard Davis (or the, "Wait Two Years, Call the Cowboys and Scream, 'We Told You So!' of Leonard Davis"). At any rate, it's also no secret that Arizona is in desperate need of one Joe Thomas, T, Wisconsin.
If he's available, that's your pick. He may be too much of a technician and not have enough of a nasty streak to fit perfectly into Russ Grimm's system, but, as Ken Whisenhunt said in his Combine press conference, he is willing to tailor his schemes to the individual talents of his players.
Thomas has exceptional feet, outstanding size (at 6'6 1/2", 310, he looks almost slender and could put on 30 pounds without losing a step), and is a more polished prospect in terms of technique than any other tackle in this draft. He is the type of player, in the mold of Walter Jones and Orlando Pace - two guys the Cardinals are very familiar with - that you can plug in at left tackle and forget about for the next ten years as you watch him win accolades and take trips to Hawaii.
Some critics (and they are few and far between) question his passion for the game, his intensity, his nastiness, and his short arms matching up against speed rushers. However, when you're a projected top 5 pick in the NFL Draft, everyone has to find something wrong with you.
If drafted, Thomas would immediately upgrade the roster and will only get better under the tutelage of Grimm, one of the best offensive line coaches in the game.
That's all well and good... but, what if Thomas isn't there?
When I participated in the Scout.com Publisher's Draft, such a situation was staring me in the face. I went to my board and chose LaRon Landry, S, LSU. Not only was he the fourth player overall on my board, regardless of position, I was intrigued by the idea of having two ballhawking, playmaking players at the safety position. Also, given the fact that the Cardinals are a little light at cornerback and face a lot of teams that play three wide receivers as their base offense, I thought it would be a good fit to have someone with cornerback cover skills for nickel and dime packages.
I would like to add that trading down was not an option. I would also like to add that Jamaal Anderson was there for the taking, so was Amobi Okoye and, if Gaines Adams were available, I wouldn't have taken him. Anyone that makes it into an article called "Five Guys to Avoid" probably doesn't stand a chance. Note that I am not saying the Cardinals won't draft any of these guys, I just wouldn't do it.
Essentially, this round boils down to this: Thomas or trade down. Thomas is the only player rated high enough that fills a need to take at this spot. Also, if Thomas is gone, that means one of the big name players, such as Adams, Brady Quinn, or Adrian Peterson is still there. This means that the Cardinals are sure to find a trading partner if they choose to move back a few slots, take a lesser tackle such as Penn State's Levi Brown or Central Michigan's Joe Staley (a guy I like almost as much as Thomas, by the way).
They could also drop into the top 12 and still have an excellent shot at Adam Carriker of Nebraska. Carriker has played end and tackle in the 4-3 and end in the 3-4. A player with that kind of versatility could help Arizona's new-look "hybrid" defense in many areas, depending on defense and situation. Carriker is a fine player, but not a top five pick for the Cardinals.
The same could be said for every other prospect available if Thomas is gone.
Editor's Pick: Joe Thomas, T, Wisconsin. Yes, I think he'll be there.