2014 NFL Draft: Arizona Cardinals team needs

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Roster moves haven't even started, but that doesn't mean we can't jump into the needs of the Arizona Cardinals heading to the 2014 draft.

It's pretty simple, the formula that I use to determine the greatest team needs is one that is developed from using ProFootballFocus' grading scale. The most "impactful" positions outside of quarterback on the Super Bowl participants from the last 10 teams are as follows: 7- Pass rushers 6- offensive guards 5- Offensive tackles (both left and right).

Then you look at the Cardinals roster and the grades that PFF has given the Cardinals at those positions and that paints a great picture, maintaining some sort of consistency even if you don't like PFF's grading, of what the Cardinals need.

Pass rusher:

John Abraham was OUTSTANDING as a pass rusher in 2013, but he's no spring chicken, and he was the only impactful outside linebacker in pass rush situations in 2013, and that doesn't bode well for a team who is using their OLB's.

Need: High

Early candidates at 20 (Note these are names, not necessarily guys I am high on, just names): Vic Beasley, Trent Murphy, Kyle Van Noy

Offensive guard:

Daryn Colledge started off the year five of eight games in the good games category according to PFF, but finished the season with five of eight games in the negative category and ended up grading out as the 31st best OG in the NFL that played at least 50 percent of their teams snaps. Colledge was solid all season in pass protection, but his inability to move people and help create running lanes along with the LT, which we'll get to momentarily, was one of the main reasons for the Cardinals stalled out running game all season.

Obviously, with Jonathan Cooper expected to make an impact in 2014, the need for another starting OG isn't as big, but the combination of Colledge's play and large salary causes enough concern that he may need to be upgraded.

Need: Medium-high

Early candidates: Zack Martin, Cyril Richardson, David Yankey

Offensive tackle:

The most interesting part of this little study was just how few LT's were in the mix. Of all the teams, only one had a LT that was in the top three as far as grades. The Cardinals had the distinction of having the WORST graded set of offensive tackles in the NFL in 2013 according to PFF and Bradley Sowell had the second worst pass blocking and second worst run blocking grade amongst tackles.

Eric Winston was not much better, as Winston graded out as the 54th best tackle in the NFL out of tackles playing at least 50 percent of the snaps. It was a rough season for Cardinals tackles to say the least.

The question becomes this for Sowell -- do you give him more time or is their a suitable replacement available at 20 considering his cost and relative inexperience? For the right tackle position, what is the deal with Massie?

Need: HIGH... at both?

Early candidates: Zack Martin, Cameron Erving, Antonio Richardson

Other weak positions for Cardinals:

Tight End

What's the deal with the TE position? Jake Ballard was a nice in season pick up, but lacks true TE1 upside, and STRUGGLED in run blocking in his limited snaps. Rob Housler is under contract, for cheap, but he's been a bit of a bust thus far, and his insane measurables haven't added up to any sort of production yet.

Jim Dray is a free agent to be who had the most snaps, but isn't more than a security blanket as a receiver and was lightly impactful in the run game.

Need: High

Early Candidates: Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins

Safety:

I am seriously impressed with the actual scores, outside of Yeremiah Bell, who wasn't bad himself. But Bell is another in a line of veterans filling spots that need more permanent fixtures. Tony Jefferson was mighty impressive in his limited snaps and Rashad Johnson played well for a guy who has never had an opportunity to start all season, and still hasn't, but there is room for improvement.

Need: Medium

Early candidates: HaSean Clinton-Dix

Cornerback:

I know what you're saying, "Corner isn't that big of a need," and it's not a high "need", but there are some interesting scenarios coming up with Mr. Peterson that I don't even want to get into, and in any case you can never have enough corners in the NFL.

Early candidates: Darqueze Dennard, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Jason Verrett, Bradley Roby

While the Cardinals roster is in pretty good shape, there are questions at some of the biggest impact positions, and moreover, there are needs at positions that weren't strengths in 2013 already. The options aren't limited, and that makes the 2014 draft at the 20th pick fun.

UPDATE: Cameron Erving, LT Florida State has decided to return to school along with Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB Oregon... Greg Robinson, LT Auburn will decide shortly but is reportedly leaning towards returning as well. The positions of "need" for the Cardinals, especially LT, are taking some hits.
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