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Cardinals Draft Primer 2021: Wide Receiver

DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle could be intriguing options if either drops to No. 16


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: Wide Receiver

More draft primers: CB I RB I LB I DL I QB I ST I TE I S I OL

Players under contract: DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, KeeSean Johnson, JoJo Ward, A.J. Richardson, Krishawn Hogan, Isaac Whitney, Darece Roberson Jr., Andre Baccellia, Rico Gafford.

Need: Medium

The Cardinals' situation: Hopkins is locked in as the No. 1 wideout for the next several years, and the starting trio looks set for 2021. Green signed a one-year deal in free agency to take over as the other outside receiver, which should push Kirk to the slot. Larry Fitzgerald has yet to announce whether he will play in 2021, and would be another top option if he returns. Isabella and Johnson are reaching make-or-break status in Year 3, while the rest of the group will fight for a roster spot.

The draft class: There are three wideouts expected to go early in the draft. It would be a shock if LSU's Ja'Marr Chase is still on the board at No. 16, while the Alabama duo of DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle is also projected to go before the Cardinals are on the clock. However, there are multiple quarterbacks that are going to go early, which is going to push a few prospects down into the Cardinals' range. If any of those three is still available, GM Steve Keim may look closely. Kadarius Toney, Rondale Moore, Elijah Moore and Rashod Bateman are some of the other wide receiver prospects projected to go in the first or second rounds.

The conclusion: While there are enough pass-catching options on the roster for this season, the Cardinals don't have a clear No. 2 for the future, as Green and Kirk are on expiring contracts. If an early-round receiver is added, he could bring value as a rookie and then transition to a larger role in Year 2. The addition of Green has dropped the urgency to add a wideout for 2021, but the long-term questions remain. With that in mind, receivers figure to get a close look in the draft, as the Cardinals lacked explosive options behind Hopkins a year ago.

Images of some of the top wide receiver prospects heading into the NFL Draft