Round 1: C Ryan Kelly (Alabama)
Ever since Steve Keim has become general manager of the Arizona Cardinals, he does everything in his power to make the offensive line better, which is something the franchise never attempted to do before he became the guy in charge. He’s used two first round picks on offensive lineman, and while one didn’t work out and the other is a work in progress, he has shown that he’s going to do what it takes to build a great offensive line in Arizona.
He’s three-fifths of the way there currently, as he has three great linemen in Jared Veldheer, Mike Iupati and Evan Mathis. It remains to be seen how 2015 first-round pick D.J. Humphries does at right tackle, but Keim won’t stop drafting lineman early even if his initial picks haven’t worked out.
The Cardinals need a center of the future with Lyle Sendlein looking like he’s on his way out after a decade of lining up at center for the Cardinals. If the team could find that center of the future, then their offensive line would be set for a long time and with the Cardinals trying to keep Carson Palmer healthy, that goes a long way for what they would like to do.
The 2016 NFL Draft is deep at center and one of the best centers available is Alabama’s Ryan Kelly. Kelly is smart, instinctual and could jump in early on the Cardinals’ offensive line and learn from some great players around him. While a rookie center could be a risky move, lining up next to a guy like Mathis goes a long way.
The Cardinals need a center and this is the draft to do it. Some might argue No. 29 is too early for a center, but Nick Mangold was once taken with the No. 29 pick and he’s turned out to be a fine player in the league. And the Dallas Cowboys drafted Travis Frederick with the 31st overall pick in 2013 and he has been to two Pro Bowls and twice been named Second-team All-Pro.
Next: Round 3