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Arizona Cardinals team needs: Defensive line, pass rush among secondary team needs

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A final look at the Cardinals' needs entering the 2016 NFL Draft.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

We are getting so very close to the beginning of the 2016 NFL Draft. Before we see all the action, let's take on final look at the team needs for the Arizona Cardinals. Let's look at them in terms of primary and secondary needs.

Primary needs:

Interior offensive line:

This is actually more a center than anything, but i say interior lineman because the Cardinals like their offensive linemen to be versatile. We get conflicting messages from the team about A.Q. Shipley. They rave about him and say how much they love him and how comfortable they are with him, but then they went and signed Lyle Sendlein off the street to play. They continue to speak of their confidence in him, but the center position appears to be one of high interest. Shipley probably is good enough to start this year, but he is clearly a place-holder.


It would appear the Cardinals are set at the position, at least in terms of a defensive rotation, but all three of their starters -- Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel and Tyrann Mathieu (he is the guy in the slot even though he starts at safety) -- are out recovering from offseason surgeries. The rest of the corners on the roster combined for a total of nine games played in 2015.

Needless to say, they need more there. Many worry about Justin Bethel being able to handle being the starter all season. They will want someone to compete with him for the job.

Defensive line:

You might not think this is a primary need, but the line is old. Calais Campbell will be 30 when the season starts. Frostee Rucker turns 33. Red Bryant is 32. Corey Peters is going to be 28, but has blown out both Achilles. Josh Mauro and Ed Stinson are nice depth, but you are in trouble if they have to play more than 35 snaps. They do have Rodney Gunter, but the line needs youth and explosiveness. It wore down the last two seasons.

Secondary needs:


The team will have Tyrann Mathieu long-term. They have Tyvon Branch for two seasons. They have Tony Jefferson to start this year is needed. They have D.J. Swearinger. One day Deone Bucannon might play safety, but it doesn't look like it. They do not need a safety to play this season. However, with Jefferson, Swearinger and Chris Clemons (and Mathieu) all entering their final contract season, looking ahead would be good.


The main guys are set in Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. They don't need a QB. They will, though. As long as Palmer is healthy and playing at a high level, they are fine, but at his age, who knows when things will go south? They like the QB class this year, so it might be the year to pull the trigger.

Inside linebacker:

Bucannon is great. Kevin Minter is fine. Then what? Minter enters the final year of his contract. A guy to replace him might be in order.

Pass rush:

You can never have enough. The rotation of Chandler Jones and Markus Golden, mixing in Alex Okafor and hopefully something from Kareem Martin and Shaq Riddick, and they are for this season. Jones is in the last year of his deal, though Arizona is sure to keep him around at least one season beyond under the franchise tag. Okafor is in the final yea of his deal and Martin hasn't proven much in terms of defensive impact.

Running back:

They have David Johnson. They have Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington. Stepfan Taylor can pass block and is a core special teams player. But only David Johnson is under contract after 2016. It wouldn't hurt to address it.