The Arizona Cardinals had a down year in 2016 going 7-8-1 but do have a pretty strong roster. Quarterback Carson Palmer did not play well in 2016 and could be nearing the end of the road. General manager Steve Keim has done a great job finding talent via the draft including 2015 third round selection David Johnson. Can the Arizona Cardinals strike gold in the 2017 NFL Draft in order to return to the playoffs this season?
The Cardinals hold the 13th overall pick in the first round but could be a team that takes a quarterback at some point. If I were Arizona, I would try to trade down in the draft to try to land a franchise quarterback in the latter portion of the first-round. California quarterback Davis Webb would be my pick as he is the number one rated quarterback on my board. Webb is coming off an MVP performance at the Senior Bowl, something Dak Prescott did last season. He also looked superb at the Combine showing off his big arm. Trading down would allow the Cardinals to collect extra picks and still get their quarterback of the future. In an ideal world, Webb would need a season of two to sit and learn as he is still pretty raw. The Cardinals appear to be a perfect marriage as he fits well in Bruce Arians vertical passing game.
If Arizona does not look to take a quarterback, expect them to be one of the players for tight end O.J. Howard. The Alabama tight end would give Arizona another weapon in their offense. Right now Larry Fitzgerald sort of fills the role of the big bodied receiver in the middle of the field but the addition of Howard would give the Cardinals more flexibility in the offense. Arizona is getting virtually no production out of their tight end position with Jermaine Gresham. The addition of O.J. Howard wouldn’t just help the passing game as he is also the best blocking tight end in the draft as well making running back David Johnson a happy camper as well.
I truly expect the Cardinals to come away with a quarterback in the first or second round. If for some reason that doesn’t happen, the secondary could be a focal point. After losing Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger, Washington safety Budda Baker could be a target. Baker is a bit undersized but can play strong safety next to Tyrann Mathieu as he is incredibly tough and can tackle well. Baker, 5’10” – 195, ran a 4.45 at the combine and showed incredible explosion during the drills. If Baker was the prototypical size, he would go in the first round and the Cardinals could potentially grab a future pro bowl type of player.
The 3rd round might be a place where the Cardinals find a replacement for the departed Calais Campbell. Oklahoma defensive tackle Charles Walker could be a fit. Questions surrounded Walker as he decided to quit the football team early in preparation for the draft. Lingering concussion issues also played a factor in this as well. Walker could fill in immediately along the defensive line. Improving this unit will be crucial to help Chandler Jones get more sacks.