Hello Arizona Cardinals fans.
The Birds had a up and down season, culminating in a highly competitive game against a division rival, the Seattle Seahawks. Now comes the off season, sans lockout, thank goodness. Plenty of NFL hype will build to the crescendo of the NFL draft, where fans will congregate in sports bars across the country, eagerly awaiting their teams first pick. Currently the Cards have the 13th pick in the draft.
The Cards, as with every other team have needs going into the off season. I've discussed free agent signing management should have addressed. The like to external free agents can be found here. My draft needs are based on those presumptions. Hit the jump to check out how I'd draft with our draft position.
I outlined my thoughts on free agent signings the Cards needed to look at for the coming year, it can be found here. What does that leave as far as need? Depth.
The philosophy is simple. Teams that run a 3 - 4 defense, live and die by the pass rush. For teams like that my draft strategy is not overly complicated, and addresses both sides of the football. Every year draft an OL position with a pick between one and three. Without fail. On the defensive side, draft an OLB with a top two pick every three years. Development and depth.
Here are the needs as I see them.
- Rookie RT to take over in 2013: This is imperative to start. The Cards want to run the ball at a 60 - 40 mix. You need an OL that can not only dominate the trenches and open holes, but for 40% of the time, keep the QB clean.
- OLB depth behind Sam Acho: Let's face it, Joey Porter is done as a Cardinal on the playing field. Clark Haggans should come back next year, to mentor the younger players as they continue to grow. Haggans is a professional that knows what to do in the off season. That's a good thing for young players to learn. Acho appears to have locked up the starting role, now he just needs an understudy.
- OG: Again, the rule of thumb. He with the best line wins the game. Deuce Lutui is a free agent again. Rex Hadnot is an average player at best. Time to infuse new blood into the spot.
- SS: Adrian Wilson is a beast. And with Ray Horton's defense, the Cardinals need to find Wilson's heir apparent. Find the similar prototype and then let the young man learn from a pro-bowler. A captain. A fierce spirit.
- WR: Doucet makes a nice three. Andre Roberts still isn't the answer as a #2. Larry Fitzgerald deserves some help.
- Rd 1) I'm hoping the Cards trade down from 13. We need a second round pick. The Cincinnati Bengals could be trade partners, holding picks 17 and 23. If we manage that, there are two names to look for that fill the OLB position. Courtney Upshaw and Nick Perry. Of the two, I'd take Nick Perry from USC, who posted 8.5 sacks and 13 TFL last season. If he isn't there, than Upshaw from Alabama is not a bad parting gift. 8.5 sacks and 17 TFL.
- Rd 2) Thanks to the trade down, the Cards get that 2nd round pick. It's important for this reason. Mike Adams, OT from Ohio State. 6'6" and 320 lbs, Adams has some character issues that dragged down his stock (improper benefits) Aside from this, would be an excellent pickup at RT to groom this year and start in 2013.
- Rd 3) This is a no brainer. I double dip on the offensive line, taking the next in the long of outstanding OG from Wisconsin. At 6'4" and 318 lbs, Kevin Zeitler started at RG except for 4 games where he was injured in the 2010 season. Similar to John Moffit, this would be a man to secure the right side of the line for some time.
- Rd 4) T.Y. Hilton WR from Florida International. 5'10", 184 pounds. Nothing special. Did I mention fast. Like stretch the field Mike Wallace fast. He had 72 receptions for 1038 yards last year. And 9 touchdowns. He returns punts. Not that Patrick Peterson doesn't do a good job of that. And kickoffs as well. He also had 19 carries for 124 yards. Fast, good hands, and very elusive. He brings great dynamic ability with him.
- Rd 5) Emmanuel Acho ILB Texas. Yes, the last name is familiar. He is in fact the younger brother of Sam Acho of the Arizona Cardinals. This pickup provides depth at ILB, and gives the Cards another hard working athlete who has a nose for the football, much like his older brother.