2014 NFL Draft: Arizona Cardinals and their needs on offense

Andy Lyons

One of the first articles I wrote in my time with Arizona Sports was to identify the needs of the Arizona Cardinals heading into the 2013 NFL Draft.

I laid out not only the team needs, but the reasoning on how I came to deciding the needs of the team.

As the free agency period began it cleared some needs, a cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson was not longer a need in the draft, and some needs were addressed in both parts of the off season, they added Jasper Brinkley and still drafted Kevin Minter, also adding newly anointed starting running back Rashard Mendenhall while drafting Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington.

While Alex Mann begins compiling his 53 man roster, I am going to use that as the basis for my early look at the 2014 Cardinals draft needs.

While I may mention some names, we all know I am going to bring up the Cardinals drafting a quarterback; the more important thing is too look at the roster and figure out where the Cardinals still have needs.

Typically I wait a little bit, closer too week one of the season, before I begin compiling my Cardinals needs list, but I am already comfortable with a number of 2014 prospects, and feel that, barring some kind of turnaround, the needs in 2014 will be obvious.

Note: The reason I begin looking at the team needs this early is because it allows me to start my player analysis for the 2014 NFL Draft and gives me a positional list that will turn into names to start watching.

Since we are using Alex's roster breakdown, we will start with the biggest needs on offense, and a couple of names to watch in the 2013 college season.

Quarterback-

I know I am beating a dead horse, but the reality is the 2014 draft will offer three to four different options on day one and two in the draft.

Who I'm watching in 2014:

1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville- It's a little early to anoint a quarterback as the consensus best, but Bridgewater has a lot to like through his first two seasons in Louisville. I want to see Bridgewater get a little more zip on his NFL throws, but he does a good job of making reads and getting the ball to the right spot, but too often it's with a little too much finesse.

2. Stephen Morris, Miami- Morris is a name to watch this season, and he's gaining steam within the draft community for good reason. Morris' ball is a site to behold, and he moves well in the pocket, but most of all, he has an electric arm, and puts plenty of zip on the ball to all parts of the field. He's my early favorite prospect at the quarterback position, and his games are definitely a must watch for Cardinals fans in 2013.

3. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech- While Thomas regressed mightily in 2012, he's still in his quarterback infancy, and he still is easily the most Big Benesque quarterback prospect I have seen since Ben himself. His flashes of brilliance show that there is something moldable there, and who better than Bruce Arians and Tom Moore to shape his future while holding a clipboard for at least a year behind Carson Palmer?

4. Tajh Boyd, Clemson- He lost two dynamic weapons in DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Ellington and this will be a big time prove it season for Boyd. Can he take the next step, get through his route progressions better, and work better from the pocket? That's an interesting storyline to watch.

5. Bryn Renner, North Carolina- The Carolina product caught my eye during my Jonathan Cooper evals, and I noted two "Arians" traits that enamored me: His ability to hang in the pocket, and his big arm to get the ball down the field.

The rest to watch: Zach Mettenberger (LSU), Jeff Matthews (Cornell), Blake Bortles (Central Florida)

Tight End-

Shocking not seeing offensive tackle here I know, but I want to see what Levi Brown and/or Nate Potter do in their first years with the new staff at left tackle before I move that over tight end.

With only Rob Housler as a "sure thing" and he isn't even that yet, and Arians affinity for tight ends, this draft will give the Cardinals some great options.

1. Colt Lyerla, Oregon- I know everyone is looking at ASJ (Austin Seferian-Jenkins), but Lyerla is such a dynamic and explosive weapon from the TE spot, I think his upside and athleticism, combined with his under-utilization at Oregon, makes me so intrigued.

2. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington- The complete package at the tight end position, ASJ's combination of receiving and blocking makes him the top prospect at tight end on most boards.

The rest to watch: Eric Ebron (North Carolina), CJ Fiedorowicz (Iowa)

Offensive tackle-

There's the position everyone is waiting for.

1. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M- He'll be making the move to left tackle, and if he plays nearly as well there as he did at right tackle, he'll be a lock as a top ten pick.

2. Taylor Lewan, Michigan- I was really disenchanted with Lewan as a prospect in 2013, but with the Wolverines moving towards a more traditional offensive set, I will give Lewan and my relationship a fresh start.

3. James Hurst, North Carolina- You couldn't miss Hurst lining up next to Cooper when breaking down the Cardinals newest lineman. I want to see him without his All World partner in crime, and see him continue to keep Renner upright.

4. Cameron Erving, Florida State- The one time defensive tackle showed some good feet at times in 2012, and at times he looked like a guy trying to learn a new position. Erving's progression is an intriguing draft storyline for me, and something I will be watching closely.

5. Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama- Maybe I am cynical, but I struggle at times to see Kouandjio as the blue chipper that others do. He reminds me a lot of Levi Brown, slow footed in pass protection, but a road grader in the run game. I want to see if Cyrus' feet improve in pass pro, and if he can be a blindside protector at the next level.

The rest to watch: David Yankey (Stanford), Antonio Richardson (Tennessee)

While the Cardinals could be in the market for a center, another wide receiver (Andre Roberts' contract is up after this season) and maybe even a running back, those are the twelve names I've already looked at, and will go even more in depth with to start the 2014 draft season, and some names for Cardinals fans to watch.

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