General Manager Steve Keim made some high-profile moves in free agency, adding J.J. Watt, Rodney Hudson, A.J. Green, Malcolm Butler and others. The Cardinals have lofty goals in 2021, and finding impact rookies would help fortify the roster. We will break down each position group heading into the draft, which will be held from Thursday, April 29 through Saturday, May 1.
Free agent primer: Defensive Line
Players under contract: J.J. Watt, Jordan Phillips, Zach Allen, Rashard Lawrence, Leki Fotu, Michael Dogbe, David Parry.
The Cardinals' situation: GM Steve Keim's biggest move in free agency came with the signing of Watt to a two-year contract. He will be the lynchpin of the group, while Phillips will aim to bounce back from an injury-plagued first season with the Cardinals. Allen, Lawrence and Fotu are three young players that have shown flashes of potential. They will aim to solidify themselves as key cogs on the line in 2021. The others will try to secure a roster spot in camp.
The draft class: Alabama's Christian Barmore and Washington's Levi Onwuzurike are commonly seen as the top defensive line prospects in the draft, although neither is projected to go as high as No. 16. There is a glut of prospects projected to go on Day 2, so that would be a more likely scenario if the Cardinals choose one early. However, since the team traded its third-rounder for center Rodney Hudson, a late-round selection seems like the most likely scenario.
The conclusion: The Cardinals have a lot of expiring contracts after 2021, but the top players on the defensive line are all inked for the next two seasons. Things could always change in the fast-moving nature of the NFL, but there is some stability at this position provided the players live up to their potential. If the scouts see a defensive lineman they like, the group could be strengthened through the draft, but it is not a necessity considering the needs at other positions.
Some of the top defensive line prospects heading into the NFL draft