Arizona Cardinals 2014 Draft: Immediate vs Future Need

James Lang-US PRESSWIRE

To try and break the monotony of the NFL offseason and excessive mock drafts, this is my attempt to discuss the draft from a slightly different perspective.

When Bruce Arians was brought aboard to be head coach last year, he used the term "reloading" to describe the team instead of "rebuilding" - a term we often hope not to hear as fans. Although the Cardinals were coming off a disastrous 2012 season, Arians turned out to be right. The Cardinals won 10 games, and even though they missed the playoffs, it gave the team and the fans something to be excited for.

With that said, are the Cardinals going to draft for immediate need or future need? You can say the two go hand in hand, but not all rookies will play, and strictly speaking, this pertains to the 2014 season. I'm aware that every player drafted is in the Cardinals future plans.

*Note - the "red flag" column is purely subjective. I considered a player's age, contract situation, legal matter, or performance.

Pos. Currently Signed In 2015 Avg. Age Significant Stats Red Flags Flag Notes
QB 3 3 29

4002 yds(13), 24 TDs(T-15), 22 INTs(T-28), 83.9 QB rating(19), Palmer's QBR 51.9

3

Carson Palmer's age and contract status in 2015 (voidable), no long-term answer

RB 5 2 23 1540 yds(23), 12 TDs(18) 0 N/A
WR 7 5 25 4291 yds(13), 11.8 YPC(13), 24 TDs(T-15) 3

Larry Fitzgerald's contract situation next season and his age (will turn 31), Michael Floyd will likely need extension after this year

TE 6 1 27 73 rec, 760 yds, 5 TDs between 4 TEs 2 John Carlson is only TE signed through 2015 and no clear-cut starting TE on roster
C 3 2 27 See tackle 0 N/A
G 6 3 26 See tackle 0 N/A
T 4 3 24 41 sacks allowed(18) & 3.6 YPRA(27) 1 No clear-cut starting RT on roster
DE 3 3 29 1351 rush yards allowed(1), 5 rush TDs allowed(3), 3.7 YPRA allowed(2), 15.5 collective sacks from DEs 0 N/A
DT 3 0 24 See DE 1 No DTs signed through 2015
ILB 4 2 24 31 Passes defensed & 9.5 sacks from ILBs 2 Kevin Minter has never started and Daryl Washington may face league suspension
OLB 8 3 27 47 sacks from defense(T-6) 3 John Abraham is 36 with no successor, no clear-cut starter on the other side
CB 7 5 25 20 INTs(T-5), 3728 pass yds allowed(14), 29 pass TDs allowed(T-21), 80.3 opposing QB rating(8) 0 N/A
S 5 3 24 See CB 2 Tyrann Mathieu is recovering from knee injury and Rashad Johnson is average

Immediate vs Future

  • Tight End - Future - Jim Dray left during free agency and the Cardinals signed John Carlson as his replacement. Rob Housler has been a disappointment since he was drafted by the Cardinals in the third round several years ago, but he's still here. Beyond those two, there's a steep drop off of talent at the tight end position. The Cardinals are banking on Carlson staying healthy this year and so am I. If they draft a tight end, it will be a future need.
  • Defensive Tackle - Future - Assuming he plays well this year, Dan Williams will be a high commodity for the Cardinals to re-sign next offseason. An underrated defensive tackle, Alameda Ta'amu should also return on a team-friendly deal. But if both players walk, the team will need a rookie waiting in the wings.
  • Safety - Immediate - Tyrann Mathieu may start the season on the PUP list. Rashad Johnson isn't making the Pro Bowl anytime soon. We all can expect a safety to be drafted this year. Considering Mathieu won't be ready, safety is an immediate need for this team. No-brainer.
  • Inside Linebacker - Both - This is a tough position to decide on. Kevin Minter is an unknown and Daryl Washington may be suspended. They signed veteran Larry Foote but he's no lock to make the team. I'm not sure at this point the Cardinals will even draft a middle linebacker. If they trade down and acquire extra pick(s), it's likely they add someone for insurance purposes.  It's safe to say however, that if a middle linebacker is drafted, he will serve an immediate and future need.
  • Quarterback - Future - Sorry but not sorry. I can't accept Ryan Lindley as the future for the Arizona Cardinals. This year's draft class is very deep at quarterback and it's hard to see the Cardinals passing on the right guy if he falls to their laps in any round. Although Arians is happy with Carson Palmer, he's 34 and didn't exactly light up the league last season. I think we're all hoping his improved late-season play carries over and Palmer has a Kurt Warner-like revival. If that scenario doesn't play out though, having a rookie passer in their back pocket makes sense.
  • Wide Receiver - Future - Admittedly this one is not the biggest need. Andre Roberts left to the Washington Redskins and Ted Ginn Jr. was brought in to fill his shoes. With Larry Fitzgerald's hefty cap hit next season and an eventual Michael Floyd-extension, the Cards could draft a wide receiver to groom for the future.
  • Offensive Tackle - Immediate - It's refreshing that left tackle is no longer a concern, but can we say the same for the right side? Bobbie Massie's name has floated around but it's concerning the Cardinals needed to sign Eric Winston last offseason. They still have Bradley Sowell and Nate Potter, and Winston is certainly a possibility to return. That gives the team flexibility if a tackle is not the best player available during the draft. Should one be drafted though, I'd expect him to serve an immediate need. 
  • Outside Linebacker - Immediate - John Abraham is in the twilight of his career. Let's make no mistake about that. As fans, we can appreciate his play last season but it's not realistic to expect it again this year. The draft isn't deep with impact pass rushers. That leads me to think one will be taken in the first round. I guess there's a possibility to trade up in the second round, but that may leave them with less picks then what they started with.

I won't bore you with another mock draft, but I think the positions the Cardinals select in order are: OLB, S, QB, OT, WR, and DT. If there's a tight end available that the Cardinals love, then they should take one. I didn't address defensive end because I don't think it's an immediate or future need at this point. Darnell Dockett is 32 years old, but he's signed through the 2015 season and can still provide solid production at this point in his career. That need can be addressed next season. In the end all we can really do is find out what happens tonight. I can't wait.

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