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Draft Primer 2014: Tight Ends

Addition of Carlson, Ballard health gives Cards flexibility


Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro can catch the ball, but there are questions about his blocking skills.

The NFL draft will be held from May 8-10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Cardinals addressed several needs in free agency and are now zeroing in on their draft targets. We'll take a look at each position over the next few weeks.

More draft analysis: S I OL I LB

Draft primer: Tight end

Cardinals under contract: Rob Housler, John Carlson, Jake Ballard, Brett Brackett, Darren Fells, Andre Hardy.

Prospects by projected draft round:

First: Eric Ebron, North Carolina.

Second: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech; Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington; Troy Niklas, Notre Dame.

Third/fourth: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa; Arthur Lynch, Georgia.

Fifth or later: Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State; Jake Murphy, Utah; Xavier Grimble, USC; Joe Don Duncan, Dixie State; Richard Rodgers, California; Larry

Webster, Bloomsburg; Blake Annen, Cincinnati; Marcel Jensen, Fresno State; Colt Lyerla, Oregon.

Analysis: The Cardinals have three experienced tight ends on the roster in Rob Housler, John Carlson and Jake Ballard, but none reached 500 yards receiving last year. Coach Bruce Arians prefers blocking tight ends, so the position may never be a glamour one with him at the helm. Eric Ebron has established himself as the draft's top tight end prospect, but he is expected to go higher than the Cardinals' No. 20 pick in the first round. Jace Amaro should be available, but isn't projected to go until later in the first round or early in the second.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Troy Niklas are two players who could be on the board when the Cardinals draft in the second round, while Colt Lyerla of Oregon is a talented player who isn't expected to be chosen until the final day because of off-field issues. The Cardinals have no long-term contract obligations at tight end, which means if they select a player early and he pans out, they can easily move on from others. However, with the way the draft board lines up and with other positional needs, a first-round selection would be a surprise. If the Cardinals choose a tight end, it seems most likely that the selection comes in the second round or later.

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