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Draft Primer 2016: Safeties

Cardinals have depth at position for 2016 but always looking to upgrade

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 I LB I WR

Draft primer: Safety

Cardinals under contract:Tyrann Mathieu; Tyvon Branch; Chris Clemons; Durell Eskridge; Brandon Person; Tyrequek Zimmerman

Need: Low

Images of the safety prospects expected to be chosen in the NFL Draft

Analysis: The Cardinals will have a little different look at safety this season as Tyvon Branch was added to the fold while Rashad Johnson left for the Titans in free agency. Branch is projected to start alongside Tyrann Mathieu, giving the defense a pair of speedy safeties with the ability to cover. While Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger are still restricted free agents, they will return as long as another team doesn't give them an offer sheet by April 22. They figure to be the main backups, with Jefferson still a key cog since the team will likely use plenty of formations with five defensive backs. Chris Clemons is a depth piece who also contributes on special teams.

As long as Swearinger and Jefferson come back, the Cardinals will have five veteran safeties on the roster, making it challenging to fit in a draft pick. However, Mathieu is rehabilitating from a torn ACL and none of the safeties are signed for more than two more years, so if the front office wants a cheap piece moving forward, a rookie could be in play.

Florida State's Jalen Ramsey is the best safety in the draft and will be long gone by the time the Cardinals choose at No. 29. Florida's Keanu Neal could be a first round selection, while Ohio State's Vonn Bell, Duke's Jeremy Cash and West Virginia's Karl Joseph are projected as second-day picks.

The Cardinals have solid depth at safety and can easily enter the season without adding any more pieces there. But like other spots that look full, General Manager Steve Keim won't hesitate to add a player if he sees value, not only for 2016 but in the future as well.

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