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Cardinals Draft Primer 2017: Defensive Line

Team has faith in returners despite loss of Calais Campbell

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 I LB I RB

Draft primer:Defensive Line

Players under contract:NT Corey Peters; DT Josh Mauro; DT Rodney Gunter; DT Robert Nkemdiche; DT Frostee Rucker; DT Ed Stinson; NT Xavier Williams; DT Olsen Pierre.

Need: Medium

Images of the defensive linemen projected to get drafted next week

The Cardinals' situation: Star defensive line anchor Calais Campbell left for the Jaguars in free agency, and it remains to be seen how well the Cardinals absorb that loss. Coach Bruce Arians has talked highly of Gunter and Nkemdiche in recent months, and hopes they can adequately fill the void. Peters did a nice job at nose tackle last season, while Mauro, Rucker and Stinson should once again be in the rotation. Without Campbell, there are more snaps to go around, and the Cardinals need the rest of the group to step up.

The draft class: There are several highly-ranked defensive linemen, led by presumptive No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett from Texas A&M. Stanford's Solomon Thomas, Alabama's Jonathan Allen and Tennessee's Derek Barnett are also projected to go within the top 10 picks. There are a lot of different options on the first three days if the Cardinals feel like they need to beef up the group.

The conclusion:  Faith has been professed in Nkemdiche and Gunter, which would seem to make it unlikely the Cardinals go after a defensive lineman in the first round, even with the loss of Campbell. However, there are several premium talents expected to go high, and if one slips maybe the value is too hard to pass up. The Cardinals seem to have more pressing needs, and they just spent their first-rounder on a defensive lineman a year ago, so a later-round pick seems more likely.

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