Defensive end/defensive tackle: Strong likelihood
Between Calais Campbell’s possible departure and Frostee Rucker’s uncertain future, it seems likely that the Cardinals will be looking to draft at least one defensive line prospect to join the rotation – and don’t be surprised if they go defensive line in the early rounds.
Inside linebacker: Low likelihood
Even if Kevin Minter is gone in 2017, Sio Moore played well enough down the stretch that he appears to be a good candidate to fill Minter’s vacant spot in the starting lineup alongside Deone Bucannon.
As for the rest of the depth chart, middle linebacker is one of those positions that is not highly valued in the draft. Teams will draft players they project as starters, but the rest of the depth chart is typically filled with rookie free agents and low-priced veterans.
If the Cardinals feel comfortable with Minter and Moore as their starting inside linebackers, the remaining spots are likely to be filled with some combination of returning players like Alani Fua and Gabe Martin, rookie free agents, or low-priced veterans.
Outside linebacker: Strong likelihood
Markus Golden and Chandler Jones are locked in as the starters, however with Alex Okafor likely on his way out, there will be a need for rotation pass rushers. Kareem Martin may or may not be ready for more playing time, but aside from him the cupboards are pretty bare. Look for the Cardinals to draft a pass rusher in the mid rounds, along the lines of of Sam Acho and Okafor.
More from Raising Zona
- Who should win the Arizona Cardinals head coaching job?
- Arizona Cardinals could wind up playing against Kliff in 2023
- Arizona Cardinals: Reliving Don Coryell’s Hall of Fame Career
- Lou Anarumo could bring familiar assistant to Arizona Cardinals
- Caesars Super Bowl Promo Cashes Up to $1,250
Cornerback: Moderate likelihood
A lot of experts are projecting that the Cardinals will take a cornerback in the first round. I partially agree. If they go cornerback, I think it will be early. It seems unlikely, however, that the Cardinals would draft yet another mid-to-late round cornerback, to go along with the others already on the roster.
If they aren’t drafting a clear starter in the first or second round, then it seems they would be more apt to re-sign Marcus Cooper, and let him compete with Brandon Williams, Justin Bethel, and Harlan Miller for the starting spot. Signing a veteran free agent is also a strong possibility.
Safety: Low likelihood
The Cardinals are not expected to re-sign both Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger, so there is going to be a need for a safety on the roster. Harlan Miller’s positional flexibility may make the need less acute, but the Cardinals are likely to add a player at the position.
Still, safety is similar to inside linebacker, in that teams typically only draft safeties that project as starters. Moreover, the Cardinals have shown an ability to effectively develop players at the position. Look for the Cardinals to fill the back end of the depth chart with rookie free agents or young, low-priced veterans.
Kicker: Low likelihood
Despite the challenges in 2016, Arians appears committed to seeing Chandler Catanzaro through his rough spell. Arians has also commented that kickers often take a few years to work through the mental aspects of the game, before becoming consistent performers.
Even if Arians intends to consider other options, it is likely that he would bring in a rookie free agent or veteran to compete for the job.
Punter: Low likelihood
The team’s starting punter might not currently be on the roster. Still, it seems more likely that the Cardinals would look to fill this position through free agency, or rookie free agents.