2017 NFL Draft: Arizona Cardinals' top five needs, best fits on the clock at No. 13
This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.
When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the
have the No. 13 pick in the first round.
Here is an in-depth look at the team’s needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com’s experts.
Who would you pick and why?
Top five needs
1. Cornerback: With
having departed as a free agent and
expected to primarily man slot coverage in passing situations, expect the Cardinals to look for a potential No. 2 starting corner in the draft to play opposite
. Second-year pro
had a fantastic camp, but got overwhelmed after just one start. Arizona isn’t ready to give up on him just yet, but if there is a real stud available early in this draft that the Cardinals like, they will take him.
2. Inside linebacker: The team brought back veteran
for a third time and he will start in the middle along with
, who is explosive but a little undersized. That leaves the Cardinals covered for the 2017 season, but it doesn’t mean Arizona won’t resist taking one of the best inside linebackers in this year’s draft, and
Alabama Crimson Tide
could be available when the team picks 13th overall. Head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t like his rookies to see extensive time in their first NFL season, but Foster has the talent and physicality that could force Arians’ hand if Dansby starts to show his age.
3. Quarterback: At some point, the Cardinals have to address the elephant in the room: their glaring need for a future franchise quarterback. Head coach Bruce Arians won’t rule out veteran
playing for at least two more years, and he is now on record as saying that adding a new, young quarterback to the roster for this season isn’t a necessity. Still, the Cardinals have been eyeing several arms in advance of the draft, and whether it’s in the first round or later, expect Arizona to take one at some point.
4. Safety: In addition to losing
to free agency, the Cardinals can’t really be all that sure about the ongoing health of star safety
, who has had two ACL surgeries in addition to other issues during his first four NFL seasons. Although they signed veteran
, 32, to a three-year contract, they can’t be all that confident in the position. Some members of the defense felt the safety spot began going downhill when the team let
depart as a free agent following the 2015 season. This year’s draft class is safety-rich, making it almost a guarantee that Arizona plucks at least one of them at some point.
5. Wide receiver: They released
following his DUI arrest,
has been dealing with side effects from having the sickle cell trait,
is coming off ACL surgery and
, who turns 34 in August, can’t play forever. Head coach Bruce Arians said he firmly believes his wide receiver room is still stout and more than effective, but that feels like a smokescreen. He’s also said running back
will start to make a transition to wideout, a move that on the surface won’t appear to shore up the position.
Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama: The Cardinals replaced departed free agent
with 35-year-old veteran Karlos Dansby, who turns 36 in November. But they need a younger, meaner version of Dansby to man the middle long-term, and Foster represents everything the franchise likes in a hungry, angry middle linebacker. He can help set the tone for the entire defense moving forward.
The pick will be …
Patrick Mahomes II
Texas Tech Red Raiders
. The Cardinals have publicly stated their intention to find a young quarterback to groom under Carson Palmer and Mahomes would seem to be a perfect fit in head coach Bruce Arians’ aggressive passing attack. After starring in Tech’s shotgun-heavy Air Raid offense, Mahomes is undeniably a project, but he possesses the gunslinger mentality and arm that projects well to the next level.
. With Michael Floyd gone and Larry Fitzgerald on his last legs, Williams would give Arizona a talented wideout to help as a rookie and develop into a No. 1 target.
Jim Miller: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama. Theory is that Foster will ease the loss of Karlos Dansby in free agency, but Miller explains in the video at the top of this point.
(Pat Kirwan, Miller picks based on last Friday’s mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).
Frank Cooney, IMO: Well, our guys all made good picks, but I am stubbornly avoiding Foster (and would be happy to be proven wrong in a couple of years). So the conversation goes to quarterback, where Carson Palmer was mysteriously underappreciated until he arrived in the desert (rudely discarded by Oakland). But while his career is now coming to a natural end based on age, the window has not shut yet. Rather than spend this pick on his potential heir apparent, let’s give Palmer help to go out in a flourish. My pick is receiver Mike Williams, whose move to the NFL can be helped by the presence and tutelage of Larry Fitzgerald.
Your chance to go on the record
OK, it’s your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out the top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.