Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong is one of many high-profile pass catchers expected to go in the first two rounds of the draft.
The NFL draft will be held from April 30 through May 2 in Chicago. 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.
Draft primer: Wide receiver
Cardinals under contract:Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown, Jaron Brown, Brittan Golden, Travis Harvey, Nathan Slaughter, Ryan Spadola
Images of the wide receiver prospects expected to get drafted
Analysis: The Cardinals' top four receivers from a year ago are back, and the coaching staff likes its depth at the position. No one reached the 1,000-yard plateau in 2014, but that had more to do with injuries at quarterback than inconsistency from the wideouts. Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown are set to return as the three main targets, while Jaron Brown is the clear fourth receiver following the offseason release of Ted Ginn.
While the unit looks formidable for 2015, wide receiver could be a target in the draft if General Manager
Steve Keim takes a longer view. The Cardinals have a fifth-year option on Floyd, who would cost $7.32 million in 2016 if it is exercised by May 3. If not, he would be scheduled to hit free agency after this season. Fitzgerald has two more years on his contract and will be 33 when it expires.
The draft is deep at wide receiver, with as many as seven prospects – Alabama's Amari Cooper, West Virginia's Kevin White, Louisville's DeVante Parker, Central Florida's Breshad Perriman, Arizona State's Jaelen Strong, Miami's Phillip Dorsett and Oklahoma's Dorial Green-Beckham – with a realistic shot at going in the first round. Last year's draft class was stellar, as players like Odell Beckham, Jr., Mike Evans and Sammy Watkins made immediate impacts, and this year's top picks could also pay immediate dividends.
The Cardinals could also look at a mid- or late-rounder speedster as a deep threat and returner on special teams. Ginn had that role last season but his production didn't live up to his contract, and a draft pick could conceivably fill that role at a cheaper cost. The Cardinals have options here entering the draft: they could bypass wide receiver and move a player like Brittan Golden into the fifth spot next season, or add a player to the mix for 2015 and beyond.