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Cardinals Draft Primer 2023: Safety

Baker situation holds key to what team might do


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.

Here is the next position group breakdown:

Draft primer: Safety

Players under contract: Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson, JuJu Hughes, Josh Thomas

Need: Medium (but could trend to high quickly.)

The Cardinals' situation: The Cardinals have an excellent safety tandem in Baker and Thompson. Assuming those guys remain, the starters are set. Now, the news that Baker would like a new contract or be traded could throw a significant wrench into the situation; Baker is a five-time Pro Bowler and heart of the defense and the Cardinals need to keep him around. Depth would be needed, however, even if Baker remains. There is still a question whether Isaiah Simmons could be used (Simmons feels like he could be in play everywhere but interior defensive line at this point.)

The draft class: It's not a particularly star-studded group this season. Alabama's Brian Branch is the one guy who could go in the first round, but in the middle rounds, guys like Georgia's Chris Smith, Texas A&M's Antonio Johnson or Illinois' Jartavius Martin might be possible targets.

The conclusion: The Cardinals won't be making safety a priority unless they have to, although it's always good to have guys on the back end who can play special teams. The Cardinals have spent late round picks on players like that before (and they could also seek an undrafted rookie in that mold) and it wouldn't be a surprise to see that again.