Matt will be reviewing each team's pre-draft analysis by talking about the draft range of targeted players.
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Arizona Cardinals (Last Year: 8-8)
What the Cardinals need the most in this draft in order to take their team from average to playoff contender is leadership. They need players on their football team that can step up, have strong motors and possess solid work ethic. With this theory in mind let's jump into their draft range at No. 16:
This is one of the biggest needs on their team, and coincidentally the first-round talent at the position is very strong. I'd say their ideal fits on this defense at No. 16 would have to be Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or Mike Jenkins, provided they are still on the board. Why? Arizona's scheme requires that the corners be left on the island, which isn't what you want to do consistently with Aqib Talib or Antoine Cason.
I doubt he is still on the board at this point, but his athleticism, toughness, versatility, and leadership is exactly what the Cardinals would love on their defense.
Edgerrin James' career isn't over, but he will be 30 at the start of the season. The Cardinals might want to think long term with a highly productive tailback in the mold of Shaun Alexander.
Albert would be an immediate upgrade over Reggie Wells at left guard and has the talent to be worked out at left tackle.
Trade up for Rashard Mendenhall:
Denver, Chicago and Detroit might be really high on Mendenhall. To leapfrog all of these teams, it makes the most sense to work out a deal with the Buffalo Bills, who might be looking to trade down from the No. 11 spot. Here is the trade projection:
Buffalo Receives: Nos. 16, No. 81, & 116 (1247 TVC points)
Arizona Receives: No. 11 (1250 TVC points)
Let's take a look at the rest of the Cardinals' draft range from the second round on.
I called it last year with the Eagles taking a quarterback in the second round (Trent Edwards). This year, the Cardinals could surprise a lot of people and go with a quarterback; Ken Wisenhunt isn't sold on Matt Leinart as a football player. That was pretty obvious last season. Joe Flacco would be the perfect fit to truly make this passing attack explode - which then takes pressure off the running game (like the Colts). He has the highest upside of any quarterback in this draft with his 6-6 frame and near elite arm strength.
They use Karlos Dansby quite a bit on the inside when they are in the 3-4, so they might be looking for a hybrid pass rusher. Quentin Groves and Cliff Avril are likely choices in the second round. Marcus Howard, Shawn Crable, Bruce Davis and Titus Brown are in their fourth-sixth round draft range.
Cornerback depth is a must, even if they take a DRC or Jenkins at No. 16. Antwaun Molden, Zack Bowman, Tyvon Branch and Michael Grant are possibilies in the third-fifth rounds.
If they don't trade up for Mendenhall or select Jonathan Stewart in the first round, they will likely invest in a running back with such a deep class. I think Felix Jones provides a lot of value in the second round. Running backs are a dime a dozen in the NFL, so it wouldn't surprise me if the only backs off the board at No. 50 are Mendenhall and Stewart. The list is endless for players the Cardinals could select, so take your pick in the next three rounds for Arizona.
Arizona Cardinals 2008 Offseason Needs
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