Help the Arizona Cardinals Luke Kuechly Can

By Greg Archuleta

Maybe the Arizona Cardinals will “force” the issue with their first pick in the NFL draft on Thursday.

General manager Rod Graves and coach Ken Whisenhunt say upgrading the overall talent will play a factor in their NFL draft strategy, and maybe that’s a hint as to who they covet with the No. 13 selection overall.

To do that, we need to put on our Star Wars thinking caps.

If the Cardinals trust their best-player-available feelings, then a certain player comes into focus:

“Luke … Luke!”

Boston College inside linebacker Luke Kuechly conceivably could be available at No. 13 if the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks fill other needs with the Nos. 11 and 12 selections respectively.

All Kuechly did during his college career was record 532 tackles in three seasons with the Eagles – that’s an average of 177.3 per season. Kuechly led the nation in tackles in 2010 (183 tackles) and 2011 (191) tackles and intercept three passes in each season for good measure.

The “force” is strong with this one.

Now if Riley Reiff, David DeCastro, Quinton Coples or Michael Floyd were available, conventional wisdom suggests that the Cardinals would draft to their needs.

Arizona, however, has not drafted an offensive lineman since 2008 and the last time it took an offensive lineman in the first round was Levi Brown in 2007 when running back Adrian Peterson still was available.

In 2010, the Cardinals selected nose tackle Dan Williams out of Tennessee with their first-round pick. He started 10 games last year before suffering a season-ending broken arm, but his 20 tackles on the season suggest he isn’t yet Jedi material as far as defensive linemen go.

A wide receiver to complement Larry Fitzgerald would get Cardinals fans reminiscing of the 2008 season when a Fitzgerald-Anquan Boldin combination led the team to the Super Bowl.

But look at the recent Super Bowl championships and their wide receivers. What WR tandems stand out among the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers? The Giants won thanks to spectacular catches by Mario Manningham (Super Bowl XLVI) and David Tyree (XLII), respectively. The Packers (XLV) had Greg Jennings, but it was Jordy Nelson who was the WR star with nine receptions for 140 yards and a TD. The Saints (XLIV) had Marques Colston, and the Steelers (XLIII) had Hines Ward but Santonio Holmes was MVP.

And speaking of dangerous duos, paring Kuechly with Daryl Washington at inside linebacker would make the Cardinals a salty unit that would make Darth Vader proud.

However the first-round draft wars go, it is becoming increasingly comforting to know that Arizona should have plenty of stars to choose from.

You May Also Like