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Cardinals' 2018 Draft Primer: Offense

Posted Apr 25, 2018

Will team find a franchise quarterback in the first round?

The much-anticipated 2018 NFL draft will be held from Thursday through Saturday. The Cardinals have the No. 15 overall pick in the first round and could go a number of different ways with the selection. General Manager Steve Keim would like to select a franchise signal-caller, but said last week a variety of factors will determine whether that comes to fruition. We analyzed the state of the defense on Tuesday. Here is a snapshot of the offense:

Draft primer: Offense

Cardinals’ draft picks: First round (No. 15 overall); Second round (No. 47); Third round (No. 79); Third round (No. 97); Fourth round (No. 134); Fifth round (No. 152); Sixth round (No. 182); Seventh round (No. 254).

Biggest needs: Quarterback; wide receiver; offensive tackle.

Top-ranked players (via NFL.com): RB Saquon Barkley; QB Josh Rosen;  QB Sam Darnold; QB Baker Mayfield; QB Josh Allen;  G Quenton Nelson; G Will Hernandez; WR Calvin Ridley; WR D.J. Moore; QB Lamar Jackson; T Connor Williams;  C James Daniels;  OT Mike McGlinchey; OT Kolton Miller.

The Cardinals’ situation: The offense has been revamped, as Sam Bradford is the new quarterback while guard Justin Pugh and tackle Andre Smith have been inserted onto the right side of the line. There is no doubt Bradford is a talented player, but his extensive injury history and short-term contract open the door for a draft pick to be an understudy before taking over the reins. The offense is in transition after the retirement of quarterback Carson Palmer and play-caller Bruce Arians, and Keim could address several different spots beyond quarterback in the draft.

The draft class: While opinions vary on the order of them, the quartet of Darnold, Rosen, Mayfield and Allen is grouped tightly as the top quarterback prospects. Jackson is on the next rung, with Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph the other possibility to sneak into the first round. Nelson is seen as a can’t-miss prospect, but at a position – guard -- not valued as highly as quarterback. The wide receiver and tackle classes are not as strong as in past years, but that could work out for the Cardinals, who may have their choice of players from either position at No. 15.

The conclusion: If the Cardinals want one of the top four quarterbacks, they will likely need to trade up in the draft to secure one of them. That will likely be decided on draft day as the selections play out. If they stay at 15, the top-rated quarterback still on the board could be Jackson. Williams, McGlinchey and Miller could be options to solidify the right tackle spot, while Ridley or Moore would give the receiving corps a boost. The Cardinals’ top offensive needs jibe with the highest-rated draft prospects on offense, which is a nice bonus instead of having to reach at a scarce position.

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