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2014 NFL mock draft: Kony Ealy to Arizona Cardinals at No. 20

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What should the Arizona Cardinals do in Round 1 to keep up with the Seahawks and the 49ers in the NFC West?

Bruce Arians won Coach of the Year with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, and he very nearly did it again in his first season with the Arizona Cardinals, taking a 5-11 outfit and turning it into a 10-6 team that came oh-so-close to cracking the playoff field. In order to stay on track, however, the Cardinals must make significant strides so as to keep pace with two Super Bowl contenders in Seattle and San Francisco, as well as an improving St. Louis outfit.

Jess Root of Revenge of the Birds thinks the team could start its improvement process by adding a pass rusher in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Team Player Pos. Ht Wt Class
20. Cardinals Kony Ealy, Missouri DE 6'4 273 JR

"Here, the Cardinals have their pick of very talented players. With their work in free agency, they could go in a lot of directions. With all the cornerbacks still on the board, it would be really easy to take a guy like Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard. Likewise, Dee Ford is also available. While it is appealing to get a cornerback, he just wouldn’t have the impact in year one, as he might not even play in 2014. Instead, they go with a guy who could be impactful in year one and beyond. It is impossible to ignore the success of other Missouri players recently. It is much like how Arizona likes players out of LSU.

Ealy has great upside, either as an edge rusher at outside linebacker, or he could bulk up a little and become the replacement for Darnell Dockett. But with his pass-rushing ability, there will be a place for him on the field and he will produce."

Dan Kadar, our trusty NFL Draft analyst, has some thoughts and opinions to share on the Cardinals' mock draft pick of Ealy:

Ealy working with a defensive coordinator like Todd Bowles is a scary notion. Bowles could take full advantage of Ealy's versatility – well, at least for a year or two before Bowles gets hired away to be a head coach somewhere. Although Ealy is raw, he's the type of pass rushing athlete you don't see drop in the draft. If he develops into the player expected, teams will be kicking themselves for passing on him. The Cardinals have plenty of options in this mock, but Ealy is a good one.

That does it for the top 20 picks in the 2014 SB Nation NFL Writers Mock Draft, but stay tuned, because the playoff team bloggers are starting to make their picks. Acme Packing Company gets things started for the Green Bay Packers at noon ET.

Top 5 players remaining

# Player Pos. College Ht. Wt.
12 Louis Nix DT Notre Dame 6'2 326
15 Xavier Su'a-Filo OG UCLA 6'4 307
18 Jason Verrett CB TCU 5'10 189
19 Ra'Shede Hageman DT Minnesota 6'6 310
20 Darqueze Dennard CB Michigan State 5'11 199

2014 SB Nation NFL writers' mock draft results

Cardinals picks

Rd # Team Player Pos. College
1 20 Arizona Cardinals Kony Ealy DE Missouri
2 52 Arizona Cardinals