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Cardinals Draft Primer 2023: Defensive Line

After Watt retirement and Allen departure, position needs reinforcements


The Cardinals, with eight draft picks and with the No. 3 overall selection, have a chance in GM Monti Ossenfort's first season to begin to build a roster that is desperate for an infusion of youthful talent. The draft begins April 27 – held in Kansas City, Missouri – but before then, will take a look at each position and how the Cardinals may look at them on draft weekend. Here is the next position group breakdown.

Previous primers: Edge, Offensive line, Running back

Here is the next position group breakdown:

Draft primer: Defensive line

Players under contract: Rashard Lawrence, Leki Fotu, Jonathan Ledbetter, L.J. Collier, Carlos Watkins, Kevin Strong, Eric Banks, Manny Jones

Need: High

The Cardinals' situation: There would have been reason to address this position even if J.J. Watt hadn't retired and Zach Allen hadn't left as a free agent. But that did happen, and now the Cardinals' top lineman is likely Lawrence, who has been steady but has been injured far too often to know he'll be available the whole season. Watkins was a solid role player in Dallas and Collier was once a first-round pick, but this is a place where the Cardinals need to improve.

The draft class: Jalen Carter was/is the best prospect, but off-field issues are something to consider and may provide a risk the higher he goes. But there are other possibilities in the first round/early second, like Pittsburgh's Calijah Kancey, Clemson's Bryan Bresee, Michigan's Mazi Smith, Wisconsin's Keeanu Benton or Baylor's Siaki Ika.

The conclusion: With high picks in each of the first four rounds, there is a chance to get a lineman – and a probability of getting a lineman – that is desperately needed. This also seems to be a spot that could be prime undrafted rookie area. The Cardinals probably need to flood the zone for potential candidates.