5 Potential First-Round Scenarios for the Arizona Cardinals in 2014 NFL Draft
5 Potential First-Round Scenarios For The Arizona Cardinals
Journeyman quarterback Carson Palmer, fresh from a trade via the Oakland Raiders, brought the Cardinals and new head coach Bruce Arians a much-needed improvement over the likes of John Skelton, Derek Anderson and Ryan Lindley.
The Cardinals finished 10-6 last season, and Arians was in the discussion as NFL coach of the year. Arians duplicated the success he had with the Indianapolis Colts while Chuck Pagano was going through recovery.
Offensively, players like Michael Floyd, who didn't put up impressive stats with the other three quarterbacks throwing the ball, broke out last year and had over 1,000 receiving yards.
Late-round rookie running back Andre Ellington also had a great season, effectively replacing free agent Rashard Mendenhall as Arizona's top running back.
Despite the successes of last year, there are still some holes that the Cardinals must address this offseason. Defensively this team is solid, yet they could use another safety to play alongside Tyrann Mathieu.
On offense, the Cardinals have to find a franchise running back and a franchise left tackle to protect Palmer's blindside.
Playing in the toughest division in the NFL, the NFC West, the Cardinals have to continue improving as the past two NFC representatives in the Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, are in the division as is an ever-improving St. Louis Rams team armed with plenty of high draft picks this year.
With everything taken into consideration, here are my top-five scenarios in the first-round for the Arizona Cardinals in the 2014 NFL Draft.
5. Select Alabama Offensive Tackle Cyrus Kouandjio
The Cardinals traded one of their previous first-round offensive linemen in Levi Brown early in the season due to poor performance. While Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie are serviceable tackles, a guy like Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio can immediately improve both the running game and pass protection.
With Palmer being an immobile quarterback, more pressure is on the offensive line to maintain their blocks for a second or two longer. This is something Kouandjio can handle playing against the elite defenses of the SEC.
4. Select Baylor Safety Ahmad Dixon
Yeremiah Bell was signed last offseason to provide leadership to a rebuilding secondary. Now that Bell is up in age and can't do the same things he could in previous years, Baylor's Ahmad Dixon would be a great replacement for Bell. Dixon is a hard-hitting safety who perfectly complements Tyrann Mathieu's playmaking ability at the other safety.
3. Select Notre Dame Offensive Tackle Zack Martin
If Arizona still thinks that Massie or Sowell can be a franchise left tackle, Notre Dame's Zack Martin would still be a solid fit for the Cardinals.
Martin's versatility to play either tackle or guard could improve two parts of Arizona's offensive line. Current left guard Daryn College is also getting up in age, and with former first-round pick Jonathan Cooper's injury still in flux, Martin could slide into guard as well as play tackle if others struggle.
2. Select Texas Tech Tight End Jace Amaro
The tight end position hasn't been solidified since the days of Jackie Smith in St. Louis in the 1970s. Rob Housler hasn't been able to produce on a consistent basis for a team that desperately needs a big presence in the middle to catch some tough passes.
Texas Tech's Jace Amaro can do this and has the versatility to line up outside in certain situations to cause matchup problems.
1. Trade Down And Select Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey
The Cardinals' biggest need of this draft is a franchise running back who can carry the ball 20 to 25 times a game and take pressure off Larry Fitzgerald and the passing game. Mendenhall can't get the job done and was replaced in-season by Ellington. While Ellington is a good player, he isn't the type of back who can take a lot of pounding.
Arizona Wildcat running back Ka'Deem Carey is the best running back in this class and would give the Cardinals the final piece in creating an elite offense that can compete with the 49ers and Seahawks.