As much as I hate to call it on this season, the Cards have been too good and we've lost too many games we could have and should have won. For me, that means it's time to look toward the offseason, and I'm looking straight at the draft. Right now, with both us and the Panthers at 5-7, we can expect to have two draft picks between 9-14. However, I don't believe this is where those picks will end up.
We've got 2 breezers in the Rams and Lions, as well as two winnable games at home against Arizona and in Philly. I'm gonna split the difference and say we win one of these two to finish up at 8-8, with a pick somewhere in the 13-18ish range.
However, that Panthers pick is looking pretty damn good. They're playing the Pats away next week, one of the toughest 7-5 teams in the league, then the 2-loss Vikes at home, then another tough 7-5 team in the Giants at the Meadowlands, and then the currently undefeated Saints. They might win one of these games, but I wouldn't count on it. I'm guessing they finish up either 5-11 or 6-10, and I'm thinking 5-11 is more likely considering the only real winnable games they have left (the 7-5s) are both on the road.
Those records last year would have garnered a pick between 7th and 9th. So with that in mind, I'll take a look at the guy I've got my eye on: Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung. He's a mammoth 6'6" 305-pound beast on the line who immediately adds a huge presence to our pass protection and run blocking forces. He's almost indisputably the best offensive lineman in this year's class. Mel Kiper has him 6th on his big board this week (insider link) and he was 7th last week, which would put him in the reasonable range for that Carolina pick. Now, maybe it's just wishful thinking, but there's certainly a decent chance we're in a position to fill our biggest need with the best fit for our team in the entire draft class.
As for our pick, I'm looking at a guy who's been dropping a bit this year but in my opinion will end up being a great value pick: USC's Taylor Mays. Shoring up the secondary should be our second priority after improving the offensive line, and Mays is a dynamic and effective safety with the skills to do so. He's big for a safety at 6'3", 235, but doesn't give up speed or explosiveness for this size. Kiper has him at 14 in his latest Big Board, so there's a pretty good chance he'll be there for our second first-rounder. I think this pick will go a long way towards locking down what this year has been a leaky secondary and solidifying a safety position that has certainly been a question mark for us this year.
So those are my picks: Okung and Mays. What do you think? Will either be there for our picks, or is this just wishful thinking? Would you prefer another guy in one or both of these spots? Do you disagree with me that the offensive line and secondary are our two biggest needs to fill this offseason? Would you rather fill one or both of these needs through free agent signings and go a different direction in the draft? Thanks for reading, and GO NINERS!