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2016 NFL Draft: Should Arizona Draft in the Secondary?

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A lot of recent mocks have Arizona addressing needs along their offensive or defensive line. What about on the backend of their defense?

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Alright so we are getting nearer and nearer to the draft, and I'm running out of articles to talk about what the Cardinals could do in the first round. So, I'm going to combine corners and safeties. Yes, it's going to be a long list.

For all the talk about how deep the defensive line prospects are, the value may lie in the secondary. While I was listening to an NBC Sports Rotoworld Podcast, a guest on the show with a subsidiary of Nike called Sparq suggested that most the athletic players in this draft are corners and safeties. And by most I really do mean most.

Take Vernon Hargreaves for example. Anyone who has watched him knows how athletic he is. I've heard some say he could step in as a rookie and immediately be among the top athletes in the NFL. Now, he won't drop to us (although I have done a couple of mock drafts where he did), but there are other options at the position. A short list of CB's we "could" take in the first round include:

  • William Jackson III
  • Eli Apple
  • Mackensie Alexander
  • Kendall Fuller
  • Artie Burns
  • Xavien Howard

As for the safeties, it's a decent list as well:

  • Keanu Neal
  • TJ Green
  • Vonn Bell
  • Darian Thompson

Now of the corners, the Cardinals will be looking for someone who can step in and play press man. They need someone who can hold up in coverage opposite Patrick Peterson and hold their own. Mostly because teams tend to not throw at Pat. All of the corners I believe are capable of doing that. I have the most confidence in Jackson myself, but Alexander has a lot of athleticism despite having no interceptions in college. I have heard a lot of negative buzz about him after his "cocky" Combine interviews. Fuller is coming off an injury, though before that he was considered a first round lock. Jackson himself hasn't risen up to round 1 until recently. And Eli Apple is intriguing, but not without questions.

Howard and Burns are definitely more stretches to go in the first, but both are extremely athletic, and Howard is an ideal height. Burns has a weakness of using his hands a bit too much however, something that might give the Cardinals pause.

Best care scenario? Jackson is there at 29 or maybe Apple. I chose Jackson in my earlier mock draft for the Cards, and I believe they would love to have him opposite of Patrick, especially given his speed and playmaking skills.

Safety, however, is a bit more intriguing. I've heard lots of different suggestions thrown out for Arizona, but I have heard now from two sources that they love Keanu Neal. I even heard on a recent Move the Sticks podcast that Neal is a better prospect than TJ Green. It is interesting to note, however, that I've heard several teams, the Cardinals included, would want to move Green to corner. Most sites give him a grade of anywhere to 2-4, but there's a lot of buzz around him as a potential first rounder

Bell and Thompson are definitely more of the roving free safety types that Arizona has been looking for. I don't know that they will select a first round player to sit behind Tyvon Branch, who they brought in to be their new free safety, but you never know.

So, of the safeties, I could see them going with Neal or Green. They could trade back and get someone like Green, but would he play right away? They red shirted their first rounder last year, but I doubt they do it again this year with them seeming to be in win-now mode.

What are your thoughts? Should the Cardinals take someone in the secondary? If so, then whom?