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2014 NFL mock draft: 3 aggressive picks for Arizona Cardinals, who 'can't afford to play it safe'

An ESPN/Scouts Inc. analyst gives his thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals and the draft.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals are shooting for the playoffs in 2014, even talking about playing in their home stadium for the Super Bowl. For that to happen, they have to improve a bit through player progression among those already on the roster, through free agent additions and adding impact players in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Writing for ESPN, Scouts Inc analyst Steve Muench projects how the Cardinals can use the draft to get over the hump.

He believes that Arizona is very likely to go with an offensive lineman for the right side of the line, such as Zack Martin or Morgan Moses.

He thinks that a better pick would be Washington State safety Deone Bucannon. Why?

"Arizona needs a starting strong safety who can stop the run and match up with tight ends. At 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds, Bucannon fits the bill. He's a big hitter who can line up in the box, plus he's a playmaker with the speed and length to match up with tight ends. It's a risk, but one worth taking."

He notes that his size and versatility becomes difficult to find later in the draft, as there is a dropoff in talent.

In the second round, he thinks that tight end Troy Niklas is a good selection, calling him "the best blocking tight end in this class."

In round three, Muench believes pass rusher the way to go, and he has Louisville's Marcus Smith going to Arizona in the third round. The rationale is "you can never have too many edge rushers."

"His greatest strength is getting after the passer. He has the burst to turn the corner, the foot speed to redirect and the ability to close well. He also has the length and frame to develop into an effective edge setter in the NFL."

Using what the Cards already did in free agency, if these were three hits in the draft, it would most assuredly shore up problem areas. The result? Improved play, which for this season should mean a postseason berth.

ow would you feel about these picks?