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: Offensive Line
Players under contract: T D.J. Humphries, G Justin Pugh, G/C Mason Cole, C A.Q. Shipley, G J.R. Sweezy, T Marcus Gilbert, T Korey Cunningham, G Max Garcia, G Jeremy Vujnovich, G Rees Odhiambo, T Will Holden, G Zack Golditch, G Colby Gossett, G Will House, G Justin Evans, T Andrew Lauderdale, G/C Coleman Shelton; T Brant Weiss.
The Cardinals’ situation: The offensive line was injury-prone and ineffective a year ago, which contributed to a poor offensive showing. Two projected starters were added last month, as Gilbert was acquired in a trade and Sweezy was signed in free agency. They are expected to be joined by Humphries at left tackle, Pugh at guard and either Shipley or Cole at center. The Cardinals also have a boatload of backup offensive linemen on the roster who hope to make a good impression and secure a spot on the team. Garcia, a free agent addition, and Cunningham, a seventh-round pick last season, seem to have the inside track on becoming the main reserves.
The draft class: Tackles Jawaan Taylor and Jonah Williams are the highest-rated offensive linemen in the class, but neither has been in the conversation at No. 1 overall, so the Cardinals would likely need to trade down for either to be an option. Other top prospects on the line include Washington State’s Andre Dillard, Kansas State’s Dalton Risner, Oklahoma’s Cody Ford, Washington’s Kaleb McGary and Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy. While the defensive line is getting more attention in this year’s draft, there are plenty of options among the blockers.
The conclusion: Keim’s offseason moves filled the holes at guard and right tackle, but the offensive line is still a position that seems likely to be addressed in the draft. Humphries, Gilbert and Shipley are all in the final year of their contract, and with a young quarterback under center, the Cardinals are aiming to turn this position group from a weakness into a strength. Coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense is more conducive to athletic offensive linemen, which could factor into the evaluations of the prospects.