'Win, Baby. Win': Arizona Cardinals can still address team needs with a Week 18 victory

A Week 18 victory could secure the Arizona Cardinals the seventh pick in the draft. Discover their targeted prospects and strategies to address team needs if they upset the Seahawks.

2023 Pac-12 Championship - Oregon v Washington
2023 Pac-12 Championship - Oregon v Washington / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
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Laiatu Latu
UCLA v USC / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Laiatu Latu, Edge/UCLA

For all the talk about how badly the Cardinals need to sure up the offensive line and add to the receiver room; it's undeniable that the defense was the more disappointing of the two units throughout the year. The Cardinals are likely going to finish the year as the fourth or fifth worst pass-rushing unit in terms of sacks, and it's shown. Opposing quarterbacks have been given all sorts of time to pick apart an injury-riddled secondary, and it's clear they could use someone whose specialty is getting to the quarterback.

In comes Laiatu Latu out of UCLA. A true workhorse coming off the edge, Latu's presence is felt in both the passing and the running game. When the quarterback drops back to pass, he unleashes in a relentless pursuit of the quarterback. Even if his first or second moves aren't able to get rid of the block, he comes right back with his third and fourth until he's able to get past his man.

It's not very often that his first or second pass-rush moves fail to work either. Very technically sound, Latu has a deep bag of tricks to pull from. He's so athletic that his speed alone is, at times, enough to get around the lineman with a straight shot to the quarterback. Latu isn't just a speed rusher though. He got some work rushing from the inside this year and did exceptionally well to clog the running lanes when needed. Even off the edge, he's a force in the running game; using his speed to catch plays from the back side, or the surprising strength to crash down on the line and close a gap before the back can get through.

Latu's style is very reminiscent of Maxx Crosby in the way that he can affect the game both against the pass and the run, while still possessing the specialty skillset to go get the quarterback in the situations that call for it. A style that would fit nicely with a good young core that this defense has, selecting Latu could immediately set the tone for this defense next season.

The ability to change the future of the franchise will be there, win or lose. So, win!

Winning in the NFL is hard, and anyone who's ever been close to the game will vouch for that. The Cardinals have found that out the hard way this season. In a year filled with so many losses, a chance to get a win should be seized, no matter what. Even if the Cardinals can upset the Seahawks in Week 18, they will still have every opportunity to get a player in the draft who can immediately change the dynamic of either side of the ball.

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