Arizona Cardinals 2014 Draft Preview

 

The Sports Network

(SportsNetwork.com) - Not a lot of people have noticed but the Arizona Cardinals have quickly turned into one of the more talented teams in all of football.

Perhaps the best club not to make the playoffs in 2013, the Cards are hoping to tweak the roster a bit to get over the hump under second-year coach Bruce Arians.

Their biggest weakness -- the offensive line -- was addressed in free agency when the team brought former Raider Jared Veldheer in to play left tackle. That move, along with the return of immensely talented guard Jonathan Cooper (last year's first-round pick) from a broken left fibula should solidify things in front of quarterback Carson Palmer, who will turn 35 late next season.

Palmer helped Arizona double its win total from 2012 but at his age, it's prudent that the Cardinals start thinking about the heir apparent.

Other areas of need include safety and running back. In the defensive backfield, 2013 rookie Tyrann Mathieu proved to be a playmaker but tore both his ACL and LCL in a victory over the St. Louis Rams in December. Meanwhile, fellow freshman Andre Ellington proved to be a big-play threat in his inaugural NFL campaign but may not have the size and physicality to be an every down bell cow at running back.

2013 Record: 10-6

Top Needs: S, RB, QB, TE

First Three Picks: No. 20, No. 52, No. 84

Number of Selections: 6 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

CALLING THE SHOTS: Second-year general manager Steve Keim, who spent the previous 15 years as an apprentice in Arizona's personnel department, is hoping to build on an impressive debut which included later-round hits like Mathieu and Ellington.

RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2013 - Jonathan Cooper (OG, North Carolina); 2012 - Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame); 2011 - Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU); 2010 - Dan Williams (DT, Tennessee); 2009 - Chris "Beanie" Wells (RB, Ohio State); 2008 - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (CB, Tennessee State); 2007 - Levi Brown (OT, Penn State); 2006 - Matt Leinart (QB, USC); 2005 - Antrel Rolle (CB, Miami- Florida); 2004 - Larry Fitzgerald (WR, Pittsburgh), 2003 - Bryant Johnson (WR, Penn State), Calvin Pace (DE, Wake Forest).

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