Most signs are pointing towards the Arizona Cardinals selecting Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the top overall pick in the NFL Draft. Even if another path is followed and Arizona rolls with second-year quarterback Josh Rosen as the starter, the Cardinals are in desperate need of upgrades to their wide receiver depth chart. It would be a disservice to whichever young quarterback if new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim don’t surround them with appropriate talent.
Currently, Arizona will be featuring Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald as their top two wide receivers. Fitzgerald, the walking hall of famer, will be 36 years-old by Week 1. While still serviceable, Fitzgerald isn’t a long-term option and is best suited for slot duties at this stage of his career.
Kirk shined in spurts as a rookie last year before a broken foot ended his season after 12 games. Kirk is a dynamic ball carrier with a versatile skill set, but at under 5’11, he operates best out of the slot as well.
The rest of the Cardinals depth chart is a bunch of unproven talent. The likes of Chad Williams and Kevin White are clearly athletic, but neither has proven much to this point in their careers. Arizona will be searching for a boundary wide receiver that can operate as the third target as a rookie, with the potential to become a dynamic duo alongside Kirk for the next 3+ years.
The Cardinals aren’t going to draft a wide receiver at #1 overall, but could target the position with any selection after that. Starting in the second, here are round by round “X” receiver options for the Cardinals.
Round 2, Pick 33: Kelvin Harmon, NC State
Assuming D.K. Metcalf is taken in the first round, Kelvin Harmon is the next best option at the “X” spot. With proper technical prowess and an innate understanding of body positioning, Harmon is a good route runner for his size. Despite lacking true top-end speed and quickness, he’s able to create consistent throwing windows because of his work outside of the numbers. Add in Harmon’s ability in tight spots and you have a wide receiver that you feel comfortable with projecting him as a WR1 for an NFL offense.
Round 3, Pick 65: JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
JJ Arcega-Whiteside is a unique wide receiver prospect in that he is a jump-ball specialist who can also separate down the field because of his footwork. His enlarged catch radius can act as a bail-out for quarterbacks, and made him an effective redzone threat throughout his time at Stanford. His skill set is vastly different than Kirk’s, yet both are effective. That could make him the perfect counterpart.
Round 4, Pick 103: Emanuel Hall, Missouri
Despite an injury sidelining him for a strong portion of the season, Emanuel Hall proved to be a dynamic vertical threat at Missouri. Hall then went out and dominated the NFL Scouting Combine, showing off his explosiveness. He’s still a bit raw in a lot of aspects of playing the position, which could limit his draft stock. Nonetheless, he’s a high ceiling prospect that may slip out of the top 100 picks.
Round 5, Pick 139: Antoine Wesley, Texas Tech
Antoine Wesley posted over 1,400 yards in Kliff Kingsbury’s system last season at Texas Tech, making him an ideal target for the Cardinals. After a mostly mediocre NFL Scouting Combine, Wesley could slip to Day 3 of the NFL Draft, but his most valuable landing spot could be playing under his collegiate head coach.
Round 6, Pick 174: Travis Fulgham, Old Dominion
Travis Fulgham closed his collegiate playing career by scoring a touchdown in 9 consecutive games, then had a positive showing at the Senior Bowl. Fulgham is a high-character prospect with potential and excellent size at about 6’3 and 215 pounds. He’s a technically refined route runner who operates well on the vertical plane, and dominates as a blocker. Drafting him outside of the top 150 picks would provide ideal value.
Round 7, Pick 248: Felton Davis, Michigan State
Arizona doesn't own their original 7th round selection, but have some late compensatory picks that start at 248 overall.
If it wasn’t for a torn achilles back in October, Felton Davis would likely be drafted much higher than late on Day 3. He has the proper size and possession traits that gives him starter potential along the boundary, but the timetable of his recovery could throw some teams off. By round 7, his potential ceiling is too high to pass up on.