2013 Cardinals draft needs: Offensive concerns outweigh defensive woes in Arizona

John Harris
Special to Yahoo! Sports

Rush Offense - 75.2 ypg (32nd)
Pass Offense - 187.8 ypg (28th)
Total Offense - 263.1 ypg (32nd)
Scoring Offense - 15.6 ppg (31st)
Rush Defense - 137.0 ypg (28th)
Pass Defense - 200.8 ypg (5th)
Total Defense - 337.8 ypg (12th)
Scoring Defense - 22.3 ppg (17th) MOST PRESSING NEEDS Offense: Quarterback, running back and offensive line depth
Defense: Outside linebacker and safety


1st round Geno Smith, West Virginia (6-2, 218) 2nd round EJ Manuel, Florida State (6-5, 237)
Matt Barkley, USC (6-3, 227) 4th round Matt Scott, Arizona (6-2, 213) 5th round Landry Jones, Oklahoma (6-4, 225)

The release of former QB Kevin Kolb signaled the end of one of the most frustrating eras in Cardinals history. Arizona traded for Kolb in 2011 and then signed him to a significant contract hoping he'd be its QB for the rest of his career. It couldn't have been a bigger disaster. So the Cardinals decided enough was enough and let Kolb go. But Kolb isn't the only problem here. All of the Cardinals quarterbacks over the past two years have been dreadful. Until the Cardinals get it right at quarterback, they can forget competing in this division. Unfortunately, this is not the year to draft a QB.

No matter how media and analysts try to spin it, this class simply lacks in quality QBs. There will be a push for Barkley after his Pro Day because he'll throw well against air. Don't believe it? Just after Smith finished his Pro Day, headlines screamed "Smith: 60 of 64 at Pro Day". Don't buy any of it. There isn't a guy outside of Smith that truly deserves first-round acclaim. That said, if Smith is taken prior to No. 7, the Cardinals may be better off playing probable starter Drew Stanton and finding their franchise guy next year.

RUNNING BACK The Draft Board

2nd round Eddie Lacy, Alabama (5-11, 231) 3rd round Joe Randle, Oklahoma St. (6-0, 204)
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA (5-10, 205) 4th round Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (5-9, 214)
Christine Michael, TAMU (5-10, 220) 5th round Mike Gillislee, Florida (5-11, 208)

The Cardinals admitted another draft mistake by releasing Chris "Beanie" Wells and picking up for former Steeler RB Rashard Mendenhall, who head coach Bruce Arians knows well from his days in Pittsburgh. Mendenhall isn't what he was a few years ago, but he's better than anyone else on the roster. Ryan Williams can't seem to stay healthy. Considering that both Mendenhall and Williams are prone to injury and/or fumble issues, the team should target running back early in this draft.

Eddie Lacy hasn't been able to work out this offseason and that could scared some teams away, considering the depth in this RB draft class. Joe Randle is an underrated dual threat in both the rushing and receiving games. Johnathan Franklin reminds many of a young Cadillac Williams with his size, burst and power. Stepfan Taylor isn't going to blow any team away with his physical attributes, but he ALWAYS showed up in big games. Christine Michael is an enigma wrapped in an impressively built package.


2nd round Eddie Lacy, Alabama (5-11, 231) 3rd round Ryan Swope, TAMU (6-0, 204)
Marquise Goodwin, Texas (5-9, 183) 5th round Denard Robinson, Michigan (5-11, 193) 6th round Ace Sanders, S. Carolina (5-7, 173)
Jasper Collins, Mt. Union (5-10, 183)

The Cardinals have one of the best receivers in the NFL in Larry Fitzgerald and drafted a young star last year to pair with him in Michael Floyd. Andre Roberts rounds out one of the best receiving trios in the NFL. Now, this group just needs a quarterback to get them the ball and perhaps a slot receiver to round the crew.

Ryan Swope and Marquise Goodwin can fly, but Swope was utilized so much more at Texas A&M throughout his career. Denard Robinson might be the most versatile weapon in this draft with the ability to throw it, catch it and run it well. He's a chess piece that Arians and company could learn how to deploy with Fitzgerald, Floyd and Roberts. Ace Sanders is quicker than he is fast, but he will dominate in the short catch-and-run areas on the field, especially against man coverage.


Jeff King is the team's run blocking tight end, while Rob Housler was tied for third on the team with 45 receptions. Considering the fact that the team has other needs, especially on the offensive side of the ball, tight end may not be a significant priority in this draft.


1st round T Eric Fisher, C. Michigan (6-7, 306)
T Lane Johnson, Oklahoma (6-6, 303) 2nd round T Terron Armstead, Ark.-P.B. (6-5, 306) 3rd round C/G Barrett Jones, Alabama (6-3, 305)
G Larry Warford, Kentucky (6-3, 332) 4th round G/T Brian Winters, Kent St. (6-4, 320) 5th round G Alvin Bailey, Arkansas (6-3, 312) 6th round G Garrett Gilkey, Chadron St. (6-6, 318)

The team drafted two tackles last year that combined for 22 starts. Fourth-round selection Bobby Massie started from day one and made significant progress. Seventh-rounder Nate Potter replaced an injured Levi Brown and started six games in Brown's stead. Brown should return healthy, so Potter will more than likely be the team's swing tackle for now. The team also drafted G Senio Kelemete last year, but got no return from that selection. But in his second season, he should provide depth on the interior. That all said, the team could still use competition at all positions on the offensive line.

The team must decide whether Brown has anything left and if it realizes that the tank is empty, then targeting one of the two top three tackles is a must. Barrett Jones has played all three positions on the offensive line, but stated that center is probably his future at the next level. He loves to be in charge and will take over as the leader of the offensive line as soon as he sets foot in the starting lineup. Larry Warford is a nasty run masher, something the team doesn't have in its interior currently.


4th round NT/DE Sylvester Williams, UNC (6-3, 313) 5th round DE William Gholston, Mich. St. (6-6, 277)
NT Montori Hughes, UT-Martin (6-4, 329) 6th round NT Kwame Geathers, Georgia (6-5, 342)

The Cardinals added former Raider Matt Shaughnessy to bolster the depth behind Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett at defensive end. Campbell was stellar, but Dockett didn't do enough to warrant any attention. Inside, Dan Williams mans the middle and holds his own. The defensive line isn't an immediate need, especially with the addition of Shaughnessy, but starting on day three, the team should target defensive line help.

Sylvester Williams is capable of moments of brilliance and inconsistency all in the same drive. When he wants to make plays, he penetrates up field, wrecking havoc. When he tires and decides he's ready to take a play off, he runs around blocks and takes himself right out of a play. That inconsistency may make him a day three selection. Keep an eye on Montori Hughes, who had SEC-type talent, but his off-the-field issues got him booted from Tennessee.

LINEBACKER The Draft Board

3rd round OLB Jamie Collins, S. Miss (6-4, 250)
OLB Sio Moore, U Conn (6-1, 241) 4th round OLB Sean Porter, TAMU (6-1, 229)
OLB Brandon Jenkins, Fla. St. (6-2, 251) 5th round OLB Lerentee McCray, Florida (6-2, 250)

The team's leader in sacks in 2012 was inside linebacker Daryl Washington (9). That's important because it illustrates how badly the team needs some rush linebacker assistance. O'Brien Schofield was having a decent year, but then he went down with an injury and missed nearly the entire second half of the season. On the other side, Sam Acho doesn't strike fear into opposing defenses with his ability to push the edge. Inside, the team added Jasper Brinkley to start alongside Washington and former Redskin Lorenzo Alexander to build the depth behind those two starters. Expect the team to target edge players with some speed and burst.

Jamie Collins oozes athleticism and will frustrate offensive linemen with his speed. But he'll have to become more of a master of his craft to be a stout edge player in the future. In other words, speed will only carry him so far. Sio Moore has a ton of versatility, as does Sean Porter. Brandon Jenkins will have to adapt to being a 3-4 OLB, but he can rush the quarterback.

SECONDARY The Draft Board

2nd round S Matt Elam, Florida (5-10, 208)
S Eric Reid, LSU (6-0, 213)
S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas (6-0, 214) 3rd round S Phillip Thomas, Fresno St. (6-1, 208) 4th round S Bacarri Rambo, Georgia (6-1, 211)
S D.J Swearinger, S. Carolina (5-11, 208) 6th round S Keelan Johnson, Arizona St. (6-0, 209) 7th round S Cody Davis, Texas Tech (6-2, 204)

The Cardinals lost CB Greg Toler to the Indianapolis Colts, but added former Arizona product Antoine Cason to take his place.The Cardinals signed former Jet Yeremiah Bell and former Colt Jerraud Powers to bolster a secondary that was top five in the league in pass defense. But the Cardinals lost their heart and soul when they released five time Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson in a cap casualty maneuver in early March. Bell was added to replace Wilson, if that's possible, but it may only be a one- to two-year stop gap. Expect the team to look for a long-term answer in a draft that has a deep safety class.

Matt Elam is the best safety of an excellent class and he could play either strong or free. Eric Reid's cover skills need a little work, but he has length and range to play in the middle. Kenny Vaccaro has gotten a ton of acclaim, but he seems to need more work at the next level than either of the other two. Phillip Thomas is a playmaker who can float in the middle of the field to make plays on the ball. Keep an eye on Keelan Johnson who only started 18 games at Arizona State.

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