The NFL draft will be held from May 8-10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Cardinals addressed several needs in free agency and are now zeroing in on their draft targets. We’ll take a look at each position over the next few weeks.
Draft primer: Wide receiver
Prospects by projected draft round:
First: Sammy Watkins, Clemson; Mike Evans, Texas A&M; Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU; Brandin Cooks, Oregon State; Marqise Lee, Southern California.
Second: Allen Robinson, Penn State; Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State; Cody Latimer, Indiana; Donte Moncrief, Mississippi; Davante Adams, Fresno State; Martavis Bryant, Clemson; Paul Richardson, Colorado.
Third/fourth: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt; Bruce Ellington, South Carolina; Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin; Dri Archer, Kent State; Robert Herron, Wyoming; Jarvis Landry, LSU; Devin Street, Pittsburgh; Kevin Norwood, Alabama; Josh Huff, Oregon.
Fifth or later: Mike Davis, Texas; T.J. Jones, Notre Dame; Ryan Grant, Tulane; Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest; Brandon Coleman, Rutgers; Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley; Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma; John Brown, Pittsburg State; Bennie Fowler, Michigan State; Albert Wilson, Georgia State; Chandler Jones,
Analysis: As many as six receivers could go in the first round of the draft, and the overall depth is strong. The Cardinals return Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd as their top options and added Ted Ginn in free agency, so it’s not a huge positional need for 2014. Jaron Brown, Brittan Golden and Teddy Williams are expected to battle for the No. 4 wideout spot, but none is a proven NFL commodity, so a draft pick could quickly enter the mix for playing time. Fitzgerald will be 31 in 2014 and has a $23.6 million cap number for 2015, so a contract alteration or another move seems inevitable. The front office’s plans for Fitzgerald could impact how they view the wide receiver position in the draft.
Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are expected to be taken before the Cardinals pick at No. 20, while Odell Beckham, Jr., Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee may or may not still be around. A first-round choice of receiver would be unexpected, but if General Manager Steve Keim believes a player at the position is the best available, he could take one. A later-round choice seems more likely, with Bruce Ellington, Paul Richardson and Martavis Bryant among the receivers expected to be available on the second day.