General Manager Steve Keim upgraded several areas of the roster in free agency, but there is still work to be done. The Cardinals have 10 picks in this month’s draft, including No. 1 overall, as Keim aims to stock the roster for new coach Kliff Kingsbury. We will take a look at each position group heading into the draft, which will be held from April 25-27.
Draft primer: Linebacker
More draft primer analysis: QB
Players under contract: OLB Chandler Jones; OLB Terrell Suggs, ILB Jordan Hicks, ILB Haason Reddick, OLB Brooks Reed, ILB Zeke Turner, ILB Dennis Gardeck, OLB Vontarrius Dora, ILB Joe Walker, ILB Tanner Vallejo, ILB Gabe Martin, ILB Pete Robertson.
The Cardinals’ situation: This group was shored up in free agency with the additions of Suggs, Reed and Hicks. Suggs and Hicks are projected to join Jones and Reddick as the starting linebackers, but a high pick could factor into that competition. The position could also use depth, as players like Gardeck, Turner and Walker have proven themselves on special teams but don’t have much experience on defense.
The draft class: Two of the top prospects in the draft – Ohio State’s Nick Bosa and Kentucky’s Josh Allen – are outside linebackers. Suggs is a potential Hall of Famer but he will be 37 years old in October and a more long-term option is needed, so both could be considered. While quarterback Kyler Murray is commonly linked to the Cardinals at No. 1 overall, Bosa is good enough to warrant consideration. The top two inside linebackers are LSU’s Devin White and Michigan’s Devin Bush. They aren’t in the conversation at No. 1 overall and won’t be around in the second round, so the Cardinals would have to trade down for either to be a legitimate option.
The conclusion: Keim did enough in free agency to round out the potential starters, but if any injuries hit, the depth is a question. The addition of a player like Bosa would give the Cardinals an impressive edge-rushing trio, and it’s more important than ever to get after quarterbacks in the NFL. The team seems likely to add at least one linebacker in the draft, although it’s unknown if that will be as early as the No. 1 overall pick or in later rounds.
Images of the top linebacker prospects heading into the April 25-27 NFL draft