2013 NFL Draft Team Needs: Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals need….just about everything, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The team started 4-0 but managed just one win the rest of the way. Something tells me that when they were undefeated the NFL Betting Odds wouldn’t have been very good to win just one game over the course of the remainder of the season. But that’s exactly what happened, and the Cardinals will select #7 in the 2013 NFL Draft.
New Head Coach Bruce Arians, the former Colts offensive coordinator, will surely be focused on the offense. The team finished last in total yards and rushing yards, 28th in passing, and 31st in points scored.
Arians has already said he will spend plenty of time trying to improve the offensive line, particularly technique. But don’t be fooled, he will be looking for upgrades at each position. Improving the line of course, improves the whole offense, so that should be top priority in the offseason.
Offensive Needs: QB, RB, OL
Kevin Kolb went down in Week 6 and never returned. To say John Skelton and Ryan Lindley were atrocious would be unfair to the very word and the English language in general. Should the team seek a possible franchise QB in the first round, look for Matt Barkley (USC), or Geno Smith (West Virginia), though Aaron Murray (Georgia) or Landry Jones (Oklahoma) may be better targets around the 3rd round. With names like Alex Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick being discussed this offseason, we wouldn’t rule out Arians going that route rather than using a first-round pick on another need and improving through free agency or trade at the QB position.
Left tackle Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) would be a realistic target for the Cardinals should be fall to number 7. Considered by some to be the best player in the draft, he would make the Cardinals’ O-line better immediately. The Cards could also trade down for extra draft picks and select Alabama’s OG Chase Warmack later in the first round.
To fill a hole at RB, Arizona could be looking to Alabama back Eddy Lacy, whose championship game performance could send him surging up the draft board. He may be available in the 2nd round, but if not, the Cards could look to UCLA’s Johnathan Frankin in the 2nd, Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle in the 3rd, or Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, Vanderbilt’s Zac Stacy or Pitt’s Ray Graham in the 4th.
Defensive Needs: DT, LB
The Arizona defense performed well last season, finishing 12 overall. They were 5th in pass defense, tied for 11th in sacks (38) and was second-best on third-down, yielding a first down just 33 percent of the time. But they allowed almost 140 rushing yards per game, good only for 28th in the league.
While the offense needs a lot of help, the best player on the board might be Star Lotulelei out of Utah. Realistically a top-five prospect, he was consistently double-teamed this season and will be a great run stuffer in the middle of the line. He holds his own against the pass, mostly by clogging the pocket with straight-up pressure.
We would expect the Cardinals to focus on the offense throughout the draft, but if a defensive stud such as Lotulelei becomes available in their slot, they may not have a choice in the first rounds.
The Cardinals have so many needs, we don’t expect them to take a QB, at least in the first round. Either a later pick, or finding someone in free agency will free them up to grab an O-lineman or, more likely, trade down in the first round to accumulate even more picks. The draft features several talented running backs, mostly in the 2nd-5th round.
Cardinals fans should not fall in love with a particular player at number 7. Their team could receive a number of players to love in 2013 with that pick.