Cards could go defense, QB in 1st round - Tucson News Now

Cards could go defense, QB in 1st round

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TEMPE, AZ (AP) -

Coach Bruce Arians says his Arizona Cardinals do not have "any glaring needs," so they could go in a number of directions with the No. 20 pick in the NFL Draft.

Safety, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, offensive tackle, even a quarterback are possibilities for a team entering its second draft under general manager Steve Keim.

Keim's first draft got great reviews, especially with his decision to nab safety Tyrann Mathieu in the second round and electrifying running back Andre Ellington in the sixth.

Adding a few pieces like that could do a lot for a team coming off a 10-6 season and believing it is on the cusp of contending with Seattle and San Francisco in the rugged NFC West.

"You shoot to hit on three guys who are at least impact players and starter types," Keim said. "Last year I really think we did that with Tyrann and Andre and really obviously I think Coop (first-round pick Jonathan Cooper) is the real deal, but just had the unfortunate injury (broken leg). And then try to have two guys who can at least play a significant role offensive or defensively and help you on special teams."

The Cardinals have identified 20 players they like, Keim said, and will choose the top ranked of those players still available when the No. 20 pick comes around.

Here are five things to look for in the Cardinals' draft:

A QUARTERBACK MAYBE?: Someday in the not-too-distant future, the Cardinals have to find a replacement for Palmer, and they could pick that guy this week, even if it's not in the first round.

Arians, who has worked with the likes of Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, likes the classic drop-back passer that fits his system.

Several mock drafts have them taking Derek Carr out of Fresno State. If not, perhaps the second tier of quarterbacks would provide a pick in the subsequent rounds.

"There are a few quarterbacks that we like in this draft and we think they fit what we do," Keim said. "I've said many times, before, whether it's a 20, 52 or 84, if they're the best player on our board, we'll take him."

Arians, though, downplayed the idea of getting a quarterback in the late rounds, saying he doubted that person could beat out Arizona's No. 3, Ryan Lindley.

MORE PICKS: The Cardinals have only six picks, having dealt a seventh-round selection as part of the trade that brought Palmer from Oakland. But there's a strong possibility the team would trade down to get additional picks.

Arizona did that last year in the sixth round, and used the picks to select guard Earl Watford and Arrington. Trading up, on the other hand, is unlikely.

"There are a few scenarios that we've talked about that we would consider moving up in the draft in the right circumstance," Keim said, "but for the most part I think our philosophy would be to acquire more picks and move back. We do think it's deep enough that you're going to get third-round players in the fourth and fifth rounds, guys who can come in and be immediate impact players."

BOOSTING THE DEFENSE: The Cardinals will look at safety, outside linebacker, inside linebacker and the line to add depth to a defense already considered one of the better ones in the league.

Safety is a critical spot, given the advent of big play-making tight ends, Arians said. John Abraham had a big year at outside linebacker last season, but he turns 36 on Tuesday and can't be counted on to perform at that level forever.

The Cardinals lost inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, the team's leading tackler, to free agency. The team is looking to add line depth behind the strong unit of Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett and Dan Williams.

ANOTHER RECEIVER: Arizona still has Larry Fitzgerald, and Michael Floyd had a breakout season, but Andre Roberts left for free agency and Arians always is looking for speed.

This, he said, is a particularly strong draft at the receiver position.

"You would never pass up a guy who could crack your roster and add depth to the position," he said. "This draft in the receiver class can do that for a lot of teams."

TACKLE AN ISSUE: The Cardinals' biggest free agent prize is left tackle Jared Veldheer, but the team needs a replacement for Eric Winston at right tackle.

Keim mentioned in-house candidates Bobbie Massie and Bradley Sowell, but drafting someone at that position remains a distinct possibility.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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