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Cardinals Draft Primer 2017: Linebacker

Posted Apr 19, 2017

Cardinals are set on the edge, but inside linebacker a possibility

The Cardinals didn’t make a big splash in free agency, preferring to add lower-priced veterans to the roster before turning their attention to the draft. The prospect pool is considered deep this year, and General Manager Steve Keim will aim to add pieces that can make an impact in 2017 and beyond. The three-day draft will kick off with the first round on Thursday, April 27, where the Cardinals have the No. 13 overall pick. Position primers will be rolled out daily as it approaches.

More draft primer analysis: CB I WR

Draft primer: Linebacker

Players under contract: Chandler Jones; Markus Golden; Deone Bucannon; Karlos Dansby; Alani Fua; Jarvis Jones; Kareem Martin; Gabe Martin; Zaviar Gooden; Scooby Wright; Cap Capi

Need: Low

The Cardinals’ situation: Jones signed a five-year extension before free agency, so he and Golden will return as the starting edge-rushing duo. Bucannon is slotted in as one starter on the inside, while Dansby, signed in free agency, is projected to man the other. The Cardinals have a lot of talent at linebacker and hope this group can help the defense absorb some key losses.

The draft class: Dansby’s signing was a stopgap, so the inside linebacker spot next to Bucannon could still use a long-term answer. Alabama’s Reuben Foster is the cream of the crop, and while his athletic prowess would have him off the board before No. 13, off-field and medical concerns could make him available. Temple's Haason Reddick, Ohio State’s Raekwon McMillan and Florida’s Jarrad Davis are on the next tier at inside linebacker.

The conclusion: The Cardinals are stable enough at linebacker to head into the season feeling fine with the current collection. If they choose one, it would be a true best-player-available choice. Foster is an intriguing piece if he falls, as he could round out a potentially dominant unit alongside Golden, Jones and Bucannon for the foreseeable future. The signing of Dansby gives the team some wiggle room here, allowing them to select a linebacker early on only if they truly love the pick.

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