John Wendling, S, Wyoming:
Has the kind of size (6'2", 222) that the Cardinals are looking for in a free safety. He runs well for a player at his position (4.49 in the 40) and has exceptional range and excellent zone awareness. He also fills in strong in run support.
He was a three-year starter at Wyoming and has earned All-Conference honors since his sophomore season.
But, if he's so great, why will he be available so late in the draft?
For a few big reasons:
1. Wyoming is not an NCAA powerhouse.
2. He needs to work a lot on his recognition skills and is lacking in ball skills.
3. It's strange to say that someone who is only 24 is old, but he's an old prospect.
Why this will be a good pick if the Cardinals take him, in that order:
1. A number of guys from small schools and bad teams have gone on to NFL success. The key is football intelligence and the player's physical ability and mentality. Any player that comes from the college level is going to have to get used to the speed of the game at the highest level. Wendling will have plenty of help from his position coach Teryl Austin and the other safeties on the roster, including Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson.
2. He's big enough, fast enough, and intelligent enough to help out on special teams while he's learning the position. With a number of people currently competing for the starting job, Wendling can take the time to get familiar with the defense and possibly come in as the successor to whoever ends up winning the job, should the Cardinals decide not to re-sign that player.
3. Well, uh, can't really do much about the fact that he'll blow out 24 candles on his birthday cake before the season opens. Actually, this really should be in the next numbered list.
Why this will be a bad pick:
1. He's 24. Under the scenario where he eventually takes over for whoever wins the starting free safety job, he'll probably be 27 or 28 by the time he does take the reins. That's a little too seasoned for a first time starter.
2. They are already neck-deep in safeties. As the old saying goes, when you have three guys for a position, you really have zero guys for a position. Drafting Wendling would simply muddy the waters and use up a selection that could go towards a receiver (like David Clowney) or an offensive lineman (like Dan Mozes).
3. Name me an impact player from Wyoming from the last ten years. It's okay. I can wait.
I think I just convinced myself that taking Wendling in the fifth would be a bad call.