The Cardinals need some help. They need a little less immediate help now than they did a week and a half ago, when the quarterbacks on the roster were all largely regarded as backup-variety guys, but a team that went 5-11 last year, reached some all-time franchise lows on offense and has since lost a few significant contributors on both sides of the ball isn't lacking for needs.
The good news: The Cards have the seventh pick in the draft in a year in which there are few consensus top-five players, and a variety of opinions on the top players often leads to the scenario in which a lot of teams in the top 10 can plausibly make the claim, "We got the best player on our board." Even better news: The unit most in need of help is probably the offensive line -- despite coach Bruce Arians' recent assertion that returning-from-injury left tackle Levi Brown is an "elite" player -- and there are as many as five O-linemen regarded as likely top-half-of-the-first-round picks.
With that in mind, the draft-centric portion of the internet seems to have settled on a consensus projection for the Cards at No. 7, and that consensus is ...
Lane Johnson, tackle, Oklahoma.
FOXSports.com draft analyst Peter Schrager, ESPN guru Todd McShay, three of the four NFL.com writers and three of the four CBSSports.com experts all have the Cardinals taking the 6-foot-6, 303-pound Johnson, whose stock went up considerably with impressive showings at the Senior Bowl and scouting combine.
The only outliers among major-site mock drafts have the Cards selecting BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper and Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher, respectively. Only the latter mock, which belong to prominent ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, has Fisher still available at that spot, whereas only the mock with the Cards taking Ansah, credited to CBSSports.com's Rob Rang, has them passing on either Fisher or Johnson if available.
McShay even goes so far to say in his mock draft, while projecting the Browns' pick at No. 6, that it's "common knowledge the Cardinals would like to get Johnson with the next pick on the board." Whether he's referring to actual knowledge or simply perception is unclear, but that holds true for just about everything that appears in mock drafts.
Long story short, if the experts are right that (a) the Cards intend to take an offensive lineman and (b) both Joeckel and Fisher will be gone within the first five picks, Johnson would appear to be the most likely choice.
-- Matt Swartz