2014 NFL Draft: Arizona Cardinals free agency moves help give team flexibility with early picks

The team's moves in free agency take pressure off to feel it necessary to pick certain positions.

The Arizona Cardinals seem to be doing well this offseason. They picked up a starting left tackle without breaking the bank, they signed a Pro Bowl cornerback, they got faster at receiver and added depth at several positions.

Now fans look forward to the NFL Draft, but that isn't until May.

The big question now is what direction the Cardinals go with their picks. Between head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim, they believe that early picks should be contributors from the start and aren't afraid to play rookies, but also showed that they would be willing to sit a guy when they play behind a superior player.

Case in point -- Tyrann Mathieu got big playing time as nickel corner from Week 1 and later into the starting role at safety. Jonathan Cooper was slated to be the starting left guard even in the preseason before he broke his leg. However, despite his second round status, Kevin Minter sat on the bench while Karlos Dansby had his best season as a pro.

So what positions could the Cardinals be targeting early in the draft? Well, they could go a lot of ways. Steve Keim told the media the other day that he wants to add depth and length to defensive end and outside linebacker. He wants to add depth at inside linebacker and he wants to address the safety position.

Safety is the only position where starters are in question.

These are the positions that I think will be in play with the team's first and second round selections:

  • safety
  • outside linebacker (pass rusher in particular)
  • defensive end
  • right tackle
  • inside linebacker
  • cornerback
  • tight end
  • quarterback

That seems like a lot, but it is exactly what you want to have. An ideal situation is one in which you feel comfortable with the starters at all positions, allowing you to select solely on draft grades that have been established. For this draft, you have to think that safety and right tackle get a little extra weight because they don't have an established starter yet.

Because of Carson Palmer, it seems really unlikely that the team would go with a QB in the first two rounds, but if they had a guy they really believed in and he fell to them, they could do that looking ahead to a season from now.

Likewise, despite a group of solid cornerbacks, it is said these days that "you can never have enough cornerbacks," so even a corner in Round 1 wouldn't surprise me. That guy would likely have to sit behind Antonio Cromartie for a year, but could battle for time in the slot or in dime formations.

The result is that this year's draft is almost set up perfectly. They can almost pick any position without worrying about need.

Knowing that, which position do you think will be the direction Arizona ends up going in Round 1? Vote and discuss it.

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