Ask Odegard: How Will It Play Out If Cardinals Finish With No. 1 Pick?

The Cardinals have reached the NFL basement once again, so it’s no surprise to see some draft questions in the mailbag.

Let’s get to it.

“If the Cardinals were to hold the No. 1 pick in next spring’s NFL Draft. How do you think that plays out?” – Cody Marmon

Kyle Odegard: Quarterback prospects Caleb Williams and Drake Maye are enticing, especially because they will be so affordable for the first five seasons of their career, but as it currently stands, I don’t think Arizona would take either of them.

Even if the Cardinals hold the No. 1 pick, Williams’ regression this season seems to make him far from the generational prospect some were proclaiming him to be before the year.

The last thing a team should do is take a chance on an unknown quantity when it has a Pro Bowl-level quarterback on the roster.

So this is how I think it plays out: the Cardinals keep Kyler Murray at quarterback, re-sign Hollywood Brown and try to turn things around in 2024. That means a trade down from No. 1, and with where things are, any number of teams could be in the mix to bowl them over with an offer.

Bears? Patriots? Packers? Giants?

Three first-round picks in return for the shot at Williams is certainly realistic, which would give Arizona two apiece in each of the next three drafts. Ideally, they can navigate it successfully enough to add picks while also landing Marvin Harrison, Jr.

That’s the dream.

If the Cardinals do this, they will have a clean cap heading into next year along with a bundle of draft picks for the foreseeable future. 

If Murray looks disastrous down the stretch, Arizona could choose to take a quarterback at 1, but I don’t really envision that happening. He’s too talented, and I expect the Cardinals to build around him moving forward.

“Realistic number of wins the rest of the way once Kyler comes back?” – Fritz Lienemann

KO: Six more are possible, and my best guess is that they get three of them. 

The winnable games, in descending order from most winnable to least: vs. Falcons, at Bears, vs. Rams, at Texans, vs. Seahawks, at Steelers.

I don’t think there is any way they beat the 49ers or the Eagles.

I projected the Cardinals to start 1-7 and eventually finish 4-13, so we are right on track.

“If Kyler plays well, do you expect this is currently the rebuilding year and next year we’ll be much better, or two more years of rebuilding?” – Sandi Van Lieu

KO: If Kyler plays well, then this is definitely the only rebuilding year. The roster should be markedly better in 2024 and he will be under center from the start of it. 

If Monti Ossenfort is aggressive next offseason, the playoffs will be a reasonable goal. Now, the Cardinals GM may choose to build a little slower by forgoing major free agent deals or by trading back in the draft, but there is an avenue to immediate competitiveness if he chooses to pursue it.

“Why do we have the worst fans in sports? The same Caleb Williams/trade Kyler questions every single day. Acting like the intention of this season was to win the Superbowl when we are very clearly tanking so getting upset at the losses are pointless.” — Jcullenss

KO: I think everyone understands the long-term goal, but it’s still not easy for fans to watch a bad product week after week. While there is light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t have an issue with the voicing of frustrations.

A competent organization should rarely be in this position, and the Cardinals have been perennial basement-dwellers throughout their history. Look at teams like the Ravens and Eagles, who make good decision after good decision to remain in contention. I’m OK with fans holding the organization to that expectation.

“Why do the Cardinals refuse to give Tune game reps?” – Kropp

KO: They listened to us, Kropp.

“Do you think James Conner comes back from IR after the min 4 games out? Should I consider trading for him now in fantasy?” – Daniel

KO: We haven’t heard many updates on Conner’s health, but I’m assuming he could be back then, or soon after. So yeah, this could be a good buy-low opportunity to lock him in for the fantasy playoffs. He should go back to being the bellcow once healthy.

“What is Collins’ best spot? MLB or OLB?” — James Womer

KO: I think it’s off-ball linebacker. I know he’s made a couple of splash plays off the edge but there is still a glaring lack of consistent wins on his first move.

I don’t think that is a skill that’s going to be easily-learned. He’s fine as a rotational edge but that takes away any upside from his first-round pedigree. I’d either move him off the ball next year or trade him.

“Is there a non zero chance the cards take Caleb Williams with the first pick?” — Deek

KO: As a huge fan of the phrase non-zero, thanks for that usage. And, yeah, if they have the No. 1 overall pick it will of course be a consideration.

Many see Caleb Williams as a mega talent, and his rookie contract will be extremely affordable for five years. As I said earlier, my expectation would be to keep Kyler and trade down, but it depends on the evaluation from Monti Ossenfort and his crew.

“What do the Cardinals need to do the rest of the season so that this year continues to be viewed as a successful step?” – LJ Sherman

KO: The development of the rookie class and the other young guys is important. It’s also critical to figure out how to best to integrate Kyler Murray into the offense.

Several close losses would be great because it benefits the draft position, but if Murray comes back and they win, like, four games down the stretch, that would be pretty encouraging, too.

“What’s the odds that Kyler’s 1st game back is on the road in Cleveland?” – Dogecoin

KO: Three percent. It will almost certainly be Tune and then Kyler against the Falcons.

“How does this team view trey mcbride, is he a w contract long term player at TE for us ?” Charles Mendoza

KO: They still have two more years before that decision has to be made, but McBride is certainly trending in the right direction.

He’s got some athleticism that is starting to pop and seems to be a willing blocker. Should be a nice piece for the foreseeable future.

“Teams practice all week with 69 (53 active and 16 practice squad)… but on Sundays they play with 45 … given the rash of injuries and the SF QB debacle in NFC Championship game last year, could you see the inactive list being eliminated in the near future?” – Geoffrey Herberg

KO: I hadn’t really given it much thought, but now that you bring it up, it totally should, right? I assume it’s used so there are equitable players available for each side so injured guys can be stashed as inactives, but in no other sport can you be put in a huge bind as the result of a couple injuries.

Let’s do this, Geoffrey. Let’s eliminate the inactive list and let teams decide for themselves how many players to use on game day.

“Why do we have no color rush or throwback jerseys” – Tucker Powell

KO: I may have broken the new uniform news but I’m really the wrong person to ask on this. Don’t they have black color rush, though? Not my lane. Sorry, Tucker.

“Yes can you tell Dobbs he SUCKS for me” – 1biglizard

KO: I will not.

“Should the Cardinals, if in the position, take MHJ even though it’s not a position of need this offseason, or trade back for say line help on either side.” – Brian Stokley

KO: I’m a big fan of trading back and adding at premium positions, but I’m an even bigger fan of drafting the franchise game-changer. If Harrison is truly a Calvin Johnson, Ja’Marr Chase-level talent, then you take him and expect him to become your modern-day Larry Fitzgerald.

If we were having this conversation about a safety, inside linebacker, tight end, etc. I’d pass on that player, but an elite wideout is extremely valuable. I’m not taking him at 1, obviously, but a trade down to 3 would be perfect.

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