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Other Places Cardinals Can Look Besides QB

Posted Apr 24, 2018

If team stays at 15, there are many different directions to go

Cardinals coach Steve Wilks (left) and General Manager Steve Keim watch players work out from the team's suite at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis during February's Scouting combine.

The Cardinals need a long-term quarterback.

“I don’t think it’s any secret,” General Manager Steve Keim said.

It’s also not a secret that the players most consider the top four quarterbacks available in the draft will all be selected before the Cardinals choose at 15. Sure, a trade can happen, but perhaps more realistically would be a first-round pick that is anything but a quarterback.

QB might be necessary, but there are plenty of other areas to consider needy.

“I sit in my office and look at the depth chart and it’s hard for me to look at any position and see it as a strength, because in my position, you have to be critical and you always have to be trying, striving to get better,” Keim said.

Keim has rarely had a conversation about the draft without noting that a team’s needs in October are often different than they are in April, a reason why the Cardinals don’t want to lock in to a specific position – or positions – of need during draft weekend.

First-year coach Steve Wilks said there isn’t any one position on the roster that stands out for its depth, a concept that would open up possibilities in any direction – although Wilks did note he thought the team did a good job in free agency helping fill voids on the offensive line with Justin Pugh and Andre Smith.

“I wouldn’t really say that we have depth at any position, really,” Wilks said.

Keim speaks of the premium positions for a team: quarterback, cornerback, edge rusher and left tackle. That’s another part of the thought process worth considering. Taking quarterback out of the equation, as well as a trade, 15 could provide a long-term answer at cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson, such as Ohio State’s Denzel Ward (who many peg as a top 10 pick) or maybe Iowa’s Josh Jackson or Louisville’s Jaire Alexander.

Wilks has emphasized multiple times about building both the offensive and defensive lines, so maybe that would mean an offensive tackle like Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey or a center like Arkansas’ Frank Ragnow, or perhaps a defensive tackle like Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne or a pass rusher like UTSA’s Marcus Davenport. After coming from a defense dominated by two star linebackers like Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, the Cards could look longingly at the position – although the two best prospects, Georgia’s Roquan Smith and Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, are expected to be gone by then.

Then there is wide receiver, where the Cardinals need to stock up behind Larry Fitzgerald. Alabama’s Calvin Ridley and Maryland’s D.J. Moore are among the highest-rated prospects, although that’s a position that could be addressed later.

It’s hard to imagine the Cardinals not taking a quarterback at some point. The franchise has not selected one in the first three rounds since Matt Leinart was taken 10th overall in 2006. That could change even if the Cards don’t use their first pick on one, and the grades will likely dictate another position.

Which one is the ultimate question.

“I probably won’t take a specialist there,” Keim quipped.

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