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2018 NFL Draft: 6 players the Cardinals might select in the 1st round

Posted: 1:28 PM, Mar 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-20 03:02:30Z

Is this the year the Arizona Cardinals find their quarterback of the future?

The Cards have the No. 15 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Of course, this could change between now and the draft's first round April 26. The Cards could trade up, or they could stay put and be satisfied with taking the best available player 15th overall. Either way, many experts believe the Cards will take a QB with their first overall pick.

Here's a look at six players (in alphabetical) order who the Cards might select in the first round of the NFL Draft. Click each player's name to access their NFL.com draft profiles.

1. Josh Allen (quarterback, Wyoming)

How unpredictable is this year's draft? The 6-foot-5, 233-pound Allen could be the first quarterback selected -- meaning he won't fall to the Cardinals -- or he could be the fourth, meaning that absolutely could happen.

NFL.com calls Allen a "late bloomer" who began his collegiate career at the community college level. Per his draft profile, Allen is likely to be "the biggest boom-or-bust quarterback prospect" in this year's draft. "Allen's size and arm talent are prototypical for early first-round picks, but it's rare to find a quarterback with such a low college completion rate become a successful pro," NFL.com says.

2. Lamar Jackson (quarterback, Louisville)

The Cardinals love Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks, as Sam Bradford just became the third such QB to join the team since 2006. Jackson could make it four. He isn't thought of quite as highly as some of the other QBs in this year's draft, but the Cardinals might be tempted to take the speedy 6-foot-3, 200-pounder with the No. 15 pick.

Jackson rushed for 50 touchdowns in his three years as a starter at Louisville, while also contributing 69 passing TDs. "While Jackson might need time to address his erratic ball placement, the long-term payoff of a backfield featuring the Heisman Trophy winner and David Johnson might be too tantalizing to pass up,"  USA Today's Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz wrote.

3. Baker Mayfield (quarterback, Oklahoma)

Speaking of Heisman-winning QBs: Enter Mayfield, who won the 2017 award just nine years after fellow Sooner Sam Bradford did.

Mayfield is coming off an incredible 2017 season when he accounted for 48 total touchdowns (43 passing, five rushing). At 6-foot-1, he's shorter than most QBs, and his emotions have sometimes gotten the best of him on the field. But "Mayfield's ability to process, extend plays and throw with accuracy give him a good shot," according to NFL.com.

4. Calvin Ridley (wide receiver, Alabama)

If all of the top QBs are off the board by the time their pick rolls around -- and even if they're not -- the Cardinals could decide to address another area of need: wide receiver. In this scenario, they could select Ridley, who's arguably the top receiver in this year's draft class.

According to NFL.com, the 6-foot, 189-pounder "has game-changing talent complete with blazing speed and rare route-running ability for a college prospect," adding "Ridley's elite speed and separation talent gives him the potential to become one of the more productive and dangerous receivers in the league." 

5. Vita Vea (defensive tackle, Washington)

Led by new head coach and former defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, the Cardinals could decide to go with a defensive player in Round 1. If so, Vea could be an outstanding addition to the Cards' defensive line.

The 6-foot-4, 347-pounder was the 2017 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Per NFL.com, "Vea's tape can be frustrating because he flashes star potential one series and then looks average the next. With that said, he's still very raw and should be judged by his ability rather than just his results as he should unlock his potential with more coaching."

6. Connor Williams (offensive tackle, Texas)

Offensive line is another area of need for the Cardinals, and they have addressed that by signing free agents Andre Smith and Justin Pugh. But The Cards may look for some additional help at the position, which could make Williams an intriguing option.

Most scouts seem to believe the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Williams could be a star at the NFL level, but question marks about his future arose after his 2017 season didn't quite match his stellar 2016 campaign with the Longhorns. "If he regains his 2016 form, he will be a good NFL starter. If not, he'll be an average NFL starter," NFL.com says.