Arizona Cardinals Draft Needs
The Arizona Cardinals finished the 2012 season with a 5-11 record after starting the season 4-0 with three straight wins to start the year against the Seahawks, Patriots and Eagles. Poor quarterback play doomed the Cardinals the rest of the season. The team released both Kevin Kolb and John Skelton this offseason, leaving them with a glaring hole at the most important position on the field. Instead of gambling on a quarterback in what appears to be a weak class, Arizona went out and traded for Carson Palmer. I think this was a big move in the right direction for new head coach Bruce Arians, but there’s still work to be done in the draft. Here’s a look at the five positions I feel the Cardinals need to address later this month.
Part of the Cardinals problems offensively last year was the lack of depth at tackle after starting left tackle Levi Brown suffered a season-ending triceps injury. They drafted Bobby Massie last year and he progressed steadily at right tackle, so there’s not a pressing need to find a starter with the 7th overall pick if they feel Brown will be ready come the start of the season. I think they need to take a tackle at some point in the draft, but they could also use an upgrade at the guard position. Alabama’s Chance Warmack and North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper are two guards who are worthy of taking in the Top 10. It’s time Arizona starts to use their early draft picks up front. They haven’t selected an offensive linemen in the first three rounds since taking Brown back in 2007.
The Cardinals have released Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes this offseason, leaving them with some serious concerns in the defensive backfield. They signed Yeremiah Bell to a one-year contract, who should help, but there’s no long-term solution here. There’s no safety worth taking at No. 7, but they could look at someone like Florida’s Matt Elam or FIU’s John Cyprien with their second round pick.
The Cardinals have addressed the defensive line with the free agent signings of Frostee Rucker and Matt Shaughnessy, which should allow them to focus on bringing in an outside linebacker who can put pressure on the quarterback. 2011 4th round pick Sam Acho showed some promise with four sacks last year, but they lost veteran Quentin Groves to the Browns. Adding in someone who can play alongside inside linebacker Daryl Washington would be a wise move. While offensive line and safety might be bigger needs, don’t be surprised to see Arizona go after one of the elite outside linebacker prospects with their first round pick, especially if Oregon’s Dion Jordan falls to them.
Running Back/Wide Receiver:
I combined these two skill positions because their aren’t glaring holes at either spot. They added in veteran running back Rashard Mendenhall to replace Beanie Wells and their still extremely high on Ryan Williams. The problem with Mendenhall and Williams is they have struggled to stay healthy and there’s not a lot of options behind them. At receiver, the Cardinals have two top targets in Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts, but they could use a dynamic slot receiver. I know it’s a reach, but if West Virginia’s Tevon Austin keeps rising up the draft board, he could find himself in an Arizona uniform. Adding a playmaker on offense is something I think would greatly benefit the Cardinals, as it wasn’t the defense that lost them games in 2012.
Adding in Palmer was a huge move for this organization, but he’s not the long term solution. It would be a mistake for the Cardinals to not take a shot on one of the quarterback prospects in the later rounds of the draft. With so many teams addressing their quarterback problems via trades or free agency, I think there’s going to be some value on some guys who could develop into starters.
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