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Draft Primer 2016: Linebackers

Even with Chandler Jones in fold, Cardinals could look for linebacker help in draft

The NFL draft will be held from April 28-30 in Chicago. The Cardinals have addressed many of their biggest needs through the Chandler Jones trade and free agency but will aim to add more impact pieces. We'll take a look at each position group over the next few weeks as the draft beckons.

More draft analysis: QB

Draft primer: Linebacker

Cardinals under contract:OLB Chandler Jones; ILB Deone Bucannon; OLB Markus Golden; ILB Kevin Minter; OLB Alex Okafor; OLB Kareem Martin; ILB Alani Fua; OLB Shaq Riddick; ILB Gabe Martin; OLB Tristan Okpalaugo; OLB Zack Wagenmann; OLB Mike Reilly; ILB Quayshawn Nealy.

Need: Medium

Images of the inside and outside linebackers projected to be selected in the NFL draft

Analysis: The addition of Chandler Jones addressed the biggest hole on the roster, as he had 12.5 sacks in 15 games last season for the Patriots and is expected to hit double-digits again in 2016. However, that trade may not mean the Cardinals are done at outside linebacker. As the Broncos showed in the Super Bowl, constant pressure can make the game's best quarterbacks look ordinary. Jones, Markus Golden and Alex Okafor are a nice start, but if there is another player General Manager Steve Keim fancies, he could add more talent to the position.

Deone Bucannon and Kevin Minter are slated to return at inside linebacker, a position the Cardinals didn't address early in free agency. Alani Fua is the main backup, but with Sean Weatherspoon gone, the team is relatively thin at the spot and could draft a player to compete with Minter for playing time or to add depth.

Georgia's Leonard Floyd and Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence are among the highest-rated outside linebackers who could be available when the Cardinals choose at No. 29. Myles Jack is the crown jewel among inside linebackers but will be long gone by the Cardinals' first choice. Ohio State's Darron Lee, Alabama's Reggie Ragland and Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith are some of the other top-rated players at the position. Arizona inside linebacker Scooby Wright III is expected to be a mid-round selection, while former Mesa High School standout and Utah State outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell may go on the second day.

Since edge rusher is no longer a pressing need with Jones in the fold, Keim won't have to reach for an outside linebacker in the first round. However, if a player is highly graded when it's the team's turn to choose, he could still pull the trigger. It would also not be a surprise to see an inside linebacker drafted at some point.

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