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Cardinals Draft Primer 2017: Special Teams

The team could look for a player with punt and kick return abilities in the draft

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 I DL I OL

Draft primer:Special Teams

Players under contract:K Phil Dawson; P Matt Wile; P Richie Leone; LS Aaron Brewer

Need: Low

Images of the special teams players projected to get drafted this week

The Cardinals' situation: The Cardinals' special teams were poor a season ago, and the personnel has been churned. There is nobody left among the specialists who participated in training camp in 2016. Dawson is a steady veteran who has taken over the kicking duties for Chandler Catanzaro, while Matt Wile and Richie Leone will battle for the punter spot. Brewer was signed early last season following Kam Canaday's snapping issues and will likely remain the long snapper.

The draft class: The best specialist in the bunch is Arizona State kicker Zane Gonzalez, who could go in the middle rounds. Memphis kicker Jake Elliott could also get drafted. Idaho's Austin Rehkow and Michigan's Kenny Allen are the top-rated punters in the draft and could be taken in the late rounds. The draft features some explosive kick and punt returners, including Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers and USC cornerback Adoree' Jackson.

The conclusion: The signing of Dawson to a two-year deal should preclude the Cardinals from drafting a kicker, and a punter also seems unlikely since the team already has a pair. Coach Bruce Arians would like to find a good return man, although that may depend on how the board lines up. It's not a position where a team will draft someone specifically for that duty, but it could be a factor, especially in the later rounds. The Cardinals hope to be improved on special teams in 2017, but most of the work aiming for that outcome has already been accomplished in free agency.

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