NFL Draft Needs: Cardinals

Evan Silva

Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential draft-day solutions.

For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.

Cardinals No. 1 Team Need: Quarterback

Silva’s Analysis

There are more immediate weaknesses on Arizona’s roster than quarterback, and we will get to them shortly. There is no greater need from an organizational standpoint than under center. 37-year-old Carson Palmer seriously contemplated retirement following a turnover- and sack-filled 2016 campaign, and 2017 will likely be Palmer’s final NFL season. Neither 33-year-old career backup Drew Stanton nor Josh Norris heartthrob Zac Dysert is a realistic successor. It’s no secret that aggressive coach Bruce Arians believes in challenging defenses vertically and covets strong-armed passers.

Cardinals No. 2 Team Need: Defensive Back

Silva’s Analysis

The Cardinals let RCB Marcus Cooper (Bears) walk after he got torched all last year, while D.J. Swearinger (Redskins) and Tony Jefferson (Ravens) also left after combining to log over 82% of Arizona’s defensive snaps. Talented and versatile S/CBs Tyrann Mathieu and Tyvon Branch return, but both have long struggled with durability. The Cards’ biggest secondary need remains right cornerback, where a playmaking ballhawk is preferable playing across from shutdown LCB Patrick Peterson.

Cardinals No. 3 Team Need: Offensive Line

Silva’s Analysis

While Palmer’s return is good news for the Cardinals’ 2017 outlook, it won’t help much if GM Steve Keim doesn’t improve his statuesque quarterback’s protection. As Arizona allowed the NFL’s seventh most sacks (41) and third most quarterback hits (127) last season, Palmer’s battered body was the main reason he considered hanging up his cleats. The Cardinals are apparently going to try 2015 first-round disappointment D.J. Humphries at left tackle, pushing Jared Veldheer to the right side. Their most pressing up-front concern is right guard, where 2016 fourth-round pick Evan Boehm is penciled in as the starter. Boehm failed to earn rookie-year playing time until Arizona’s playoffs hopes were dashed.

Other Considerations: Defensive Line, Linebacker, Running Back

2017 NFL Draft: More coverage here

Norris’ Mock Draft

Round 1 (13): QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson - It is time to think about the future, as late-season quarterback injuries in recent years have impacted the team’s chances when it matters most. I know Evan and many have mentioned strong-armed passers, but call this a hunch. Watson has a playmaker’s mentality against pressure, which might be needed behind Arizona’s current offensive line.

Round 2 (45): LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt - Deone Bucannon is often mentioned as a modern type of player. My issue with that: he is not a complete player and almost a liability against the run. I know the team signed Karlos Dansby, but Cunningham would be a great long-term inside linebacker with blitzing upside.

Round 3 (77): G Nico Siragusa, San Diego State - Siragusa has a chance at starting immediately, although I kind of like Boehm. Siragusa is an absolutely punishing run blocker, fitting the direction the team should be heading in.

Round 4 (119): CB Jeremy Cutrer, Middle Tenn State - My buddy Dane Brugler’s corner sleeper. I know the Cardinals were very high on Brandon Williams last training camp. Cutrer would be solid competition.

Round 5 (157): S Josh Harvey-Clemons, Louisville - The Cardinals lost a few safeties to free agency, and JHC has his fans around the league.

Round 5 (179): WR Robert Davis, Georgia State - Arians wants athleticism at receiver. Davis is the most athletic receiver in this class.

Round 6 (197): RB Elijah McGuire, Louisiana-Lafayette - McGuire is a really good player as both a runner and receiver.

Round 7 (231): T Andrew Wylie, Eastern Michigan - Late round, athletic tackle. Developmental.

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