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Arizona Cardinals: Team Draft Needs

Jacob Letarski

RotoWire Editor for College Basketball and MMA. Frequent podcaster, plus radio and video guest. Follow Jake on Twitter at @JakeSki52.

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Carson Palmer led the Cardinals to a 10-6 record last season, finishing just shy of a playoff berth for the first time since 2009. While he's obviously not the long-term answer in Arizona, Palmer will be back under center next season, which gives the Cardinals a chance to win games and groom a quarterback of the future. The Cardinals also must address an offensive line that limited Rashard Mendenhall to a dismal 3.2 YPC in 2013. This, along with defensive depth, likely will be the Cardinals' primary concern in the 2014 Draft.

1. Offensive Tackle

Carson Palmer was sacked 41 times in 2013, eighth most in the league. Not only do the Cardinals need to fortify themselves against the relentless pass rush of their three division rivals, they need to plan for the possible departure of free-agent right tackle Eric Winston. Trading Levi Brown last season left the Cardinals with a less-than-adequate Bradley Sowell at left tackle, which likely necessitates an upgrade as well. A relatively deep player pool at this position should allow the Cardinals to address this need.

2. Outside Linebacker

Playing in the NFC West makes containing the likes of Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson a top priority. Depth at outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense is vital, as John Abraham will be 36 years old next season. He played well in 2013, racking up 11.5 sacks, but the Cardinals must consider a pass rusher to complement Calais Campbell.

3. Quarterback

Carson Palmer threw for a career-high 4,274 yards in 2013, but the 34-year-old was never meant to the be long-term answer at quarterback for the Cardinals. The good news is that a rookie quarterback will have a year or two to develop and learn from Palmer and won't face the pressure of being immediately thrown into action. They'll be some tempting quarterbacks available in the first round, but look for the Cardinals to hold off until later rounds and address more-pressing needs on the first day.

Potential Targets

Offensive Tackle

First Round
-Greg Robinson, Auburn (6-5, 320)
-Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama (6-5, 310)
-Taylor Lewan, Michigan (6-7, 315)
-Zack Martin, Notre Dame (6-4, 310)

Second and third rounds
-Joel Bitonio, Nevada (6-4, 315)
-Antonio Richardson, Tennessee (6-6, 325)
-Morgan Moses, Virginia (6-6, 325)
-Jack Mewhort, Ohio State (6-6, 310)

Fourth round and later
-James Hurst, North Carolina (6-6, 305)
-JaWuan James, Tennessee (6-6, 320)
-Billy Turner, North Dakota State (6-5, 310)
-Justin Britt, Missouri (6-6, 315)
-Cameron Fleming, Stanford (6-6, 320)
-Donald Hawkins, Texas (6-5, 300)

Outside linebacker

First round
-Kyle Van Noy, BYU (6-3, 345)
-Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame (6-6, 310)
-Ryan Shazier, Ohio State (6-2, 230)
-Vic Beasley, Clemson (6-2, 235)

Second and third rounds
-Trevor Reilly, Utah (6-5, 255)
-Marcus Smith, Louisville (6-3, 250)
-Dee Ford, Auburn (6-2, 240)
-Telvin Smith, Florida State (6-2, 220)

Fourth round and later
-James Gayle, Virginia Tech (6-4, 255)
-Ben Gardner, Standford (6-4, 275)
-Chris McAllister, Baylor (6-2, 255)
-Ronald Powell, Florida (6-3, 240)
-Brendan Kelly, Wisconsin (6-6, 255)


First round
-Derek Carr, Fresno State (6-3, 220)

Second and third rounds
-Brett Smith, Wyoming (6-2, 205)
-Zach Mettenberger, LSU (6-5, 235)
-A.J. McCarron, Alabama (6-3, 215)

Fourth round and later
-Tajh Boyd, Clemson (6-1, 225)
-Aaron Murray, Georgia (6-1, 210)
-Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech (6-6, 255)
-Connor Shaw, South Carolina (6-1, 210)