The offseason in the NFL is now in full swing and teams around the league are getting ready for the upcoming NFL Draft and free agency. Big boards are being drawn up and scouts are being brought into the office to get their opinions on the players that should be sought after.
The Arizona Cardinals, in particular, are going to need to lean on both their pro scouts and college level scouts heavily this spring. The roster needs quite a few additions if the team wants to compete next year. In fact, some position groups, such as quarterback and the offensive line, may need a complete overhaul.
Getting their top targets at every position won’t be an attainable goal. There are just too many holes and not enough cap space and draft picks to fill them. So which players at their big positions should the team look to take in free agency vs. taking them in the draft? Let’s look at a few.
I am of the opinion with the Cardinals that their window for winning a championship is closed. The defense has some nice building blocks, but there is just too much needed to think about making a big playoff push right away. That is why I think going after a quarterback in the draft is of the utmost importance. No more bridge guys or journeymen for me. I could be talked into someone like Teddy Bridgewater who still has youth on his side, but I would mostly prefer the team to finally take a leap of faith and draft a quarterback high. Sure, I have my favorites. So does GM Steve Keim. Either way, it’s time to quit being shy and finally get that guy that can lead this team for the next decade or more.
One struggle Keim has had in his tenure as GM is identifying offensive linemen in the draft. Whether that’s Jonathan Cooper, Evan Boehm, Earl Watford, or anyone else, the team has yet to find a true stalwart from the draft to be an anchor on the line (the jury is still out on D.J. Humphries, but I think he will end up being successful). That’s why O-Line seems like a position Keim may want to try and fill through free agency. Andrew Norwell is a name that has been brought up a ton due to him being a great guard (a big need) and a player for the Carolina Panthers, where the Cardinals now have a ton of ties to. Whether it’s Norwell or someone else, something has to give on the line if the Cardinals want to avoid the disaster that came about last season.
This position can be filled through a mixture of the draft and free agency because there is a lot of need. Maybe Brandon Williams can finally give you something on the outside, but if he can’t, it is back to the drawing board to find a young stud to play across from Patrick Peterson. The Cards can bring Tramon Williams or someone of that ilk back for a year to groom a young guy that they draft, but I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing the team make an investment at that position.
To me, this is a draft position all the way. Chad Williams can still end up being a really good player. I have a ton of faith in him. But outside of him and the aging Larry Fitzgerald, who is there? J.J. Nelson is who he is. John Brown is a free agent and always hurt. Jaron Brown isn’t someone that’s going to be a big piece for the future. So it’s time to draft another guy that can come in and help spark the offense. No matter who is throwing the ball, having only Fitz and David Johnson to throw to definitely won’t bode well for the offense and its success.