Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.
No. 1 Team Need: Running back
Carson Palmer is 35 years old and coming off reconstructive knee surgery, while Andre Ellington failed in the Cardinals' feature back role last season, averaging 3.28 yards per carry before succumbing to a multitude of injuries. Arizona needs a way to move the chains when the passing game is out of sync. Coach Bruce Arians and GM Steve Keim have openly spoken of adding a big running back capable of handling workhorse carries. They've been linked to Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley.
No. 2 Team Need: Nose tackle
Arizona is set on the ends after pairing Cory Redding with Calais Campbell, but there's a hole at nose tackle following Dan Williams' free-agent departure. Corey Peters (6'3/300) isn't a true nose, and Alameda Ta'amu has been an injury-plagued enigma. In order to maintain one of the NFL's premier run defenses, the Cardinals need an answer at zero technique.
No. 3 Team Need: Linebacker
The Cardinals' offensive line could use an injection of talent, particularly on the interior. The cornerback position also has question marks after Antonio Cromartie returned to New York. Linebacker still stands out as a top-three weakness with help needed outside and inside. Arizona can't realistically count on LaMarr Woodley to rediscover his early-career form, while ILB Sean Weatherspoon is coming off a torn Achilles'. The Cardinals need a speed rusher and competition at inside linebacker.
Norris’ Mock Draft:
Round 1 (24): EDGE Shane Ray, Missouri - I do think Ray stays on the board until the later third of round one. From an athleticism standpoint, Ray tested in the 18.5 percentile for NFL edge rushers. However, by looking at the roster athleticism does not seem to be a priority for the position in the eyes of the Cardinals. Ray does maximize and somewhat compensate for the lack of natural athleticism with an outstanding motor and toughness at the point of attack.
Round 2 (55): RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama - Evan called for a back capable of handling workhorse carries. Yeldon was never asked to do that at Alabama, but I think he has the talent and ability to do it in the NFL. He is a smooth, balanced runner who falls forward when going to the ground and displays an extra gear when seeing the endzone.
Round 3 (86): CB Steven Nelson, Oregon State - With the NFL focused so much on size and length at corner, Nelson might slip through the cracks. He is not small (5’10/197 lbs) and measures in taller than Jerraud Powers. On top of that Nelson plays big on the outside and is aggressive at the catch point or when closing in space.
Round 4 (123): LB Jordan Hicks, Texas - The cardinals have one coverage box defender in Deone Bucannon and could use another in Hicks. Jordan battled injuries at Texas which is something teams have vetted during the process. Above all, Hicks has enough talent to at least be a role player.
Round 5 (159): NT Tyeler Davison, Fresno State - This is a perfect match, especially considering the Cardinals have worked out Davison. Teams believe they can find adequate zero techniques later in the draft or even among the undrafted free agents. Davison is a bit more than the common prospect, as he is a very good athlete for his size. A superior athlete than Danny Shelton by a considerable margin, in fact.
Round 6 (198): WR Tyrell Williams, Western Oregon - Another prospect the Cardinals have expressed interest in. With Larry Fitzgerald’s game declining, the Cardinals could look for a “flier” with size to play on the outside. I’m not saying Williams can take Fitz’s place.
Round 7 (241): C Nick Easton, Harvard - A favorite of mine. Easton is one of the draft’s top athletes along the offensive line and is an occupier at the anchor spot. The Cardinals could upgrade their center position.
Round 7 (256): EDGE Deion Barnes, Penn State - I know Barnes left Penn State early. I know he attended the Senior Bowl. But the lack of a Combine invite and little buzz makes me think he could still be available here.
Cardinals Current First-Team Offense
QB: Carson Palmer
RB: Andre Ellington
WR: Larry Fitzgerald
WR: Michael Floyd
WR: John Brown
TE: Darren Fells
LT: Jared Veldheer
LG: Mike Iupati
C: A.Q. Shipley
RG: Jonathan Cooper
RT: Bobby Massie
Cardinals Current First-Team Defense
LE: Cory Redding
RE: Calais Campbell
NT: Corey Peters
OLB: Alex Okafor
OLB: LaMarr Woodley
ILB: Sean Weatherspoon
ILB: Kevin Minter
CB: Patrick Peterson
CB: Justin Bethel
FS: Rashad Johnson
SS: Tyrann Mathieu