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Ranking The Seven Positions Cardinals Should Prioritize In The 2023 NFL Draft

If the season ended today, the 4-9 Arizona Cardinals would have the sixth pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They are the league’s worst defense in points allowed at 26.8 per game. Because of that, most of these positions are on the defensive side of the ball. They still have positional holes to fill, but the good news is they’ll have a high draft pick. Here are the positional rankings:

7. Running Back

In a surprising move, the Cardinals recently released backup running back Eno Benjamin. Not only are they thin at the position, but starting running back James Conner is now 27 years old and has a history of injuries. The Cardinals could use an explosive running back. The only reason the running back position isn’t ranked higher is the positional value; it is relatively easy to find a serviceable running back.

6. Cornerback

The Cardinals addressed the cornerback position in the 2019 draft, selecting Byron Murphy Jr. out of The University of Washington in the second round. Murphy Jr. has been playing well and is one of the focal points of the defense to build around in the future. But the Cardinals are giving up the highest points per game in the league at 26.8. They could certainly use another cornerback to play alongside Murphy Jr. to help fix their defensive holes.

5. Outside Linebacker

The Cardinals have two extremely young and promising linebackers, Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons. I’m almost hesitant to call them linebackers because they both can play multiple positions and roles on defense. Collins, out of the University of Tulsa, was picked 16th overall in the 2021 draft. Simmons was selected 8th overall in the 2020 draft out of Clemson.

While the Cardinals have already used two first-round picks in the past three years on linebackers, they could turn their linebacker room into the identity of this defense with another one taken in this draft. Given the versatility of both Collins and Simmons, another linebacker could allow them to play to their strengths and fill different roles in particular situations.

4. Defensive Tackle

The Cardinals could improve just about every position on their defensive line. A significant reason why they are giving up the most points per game this season is that they aren’t putting enough pressure on the quarterback and aren’t stopping the run. Selecting a defensive tackle in this year’s draft would be a great start to turning a weakness into a strength down the line.

3. Defensive End

Star defensive end J.J. Watt is now 33 years old and will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. The Cardinals need to find his replacement, ideally through the draft. A young defensive end is a crucial building block they are currently missing. Look at the impact someone like Aaron Donald had on the Super Bowl; the Rams likely wouldn’t have won last year if he wasn’t on their roster.

The Cardinals have a few foundational defensive pieces, including Byron Murphy Jr. and Isaiah Simmons, but they still need to address the defensive line. If the Cardinals are on the clock in the first round and the best player available is a defensive end, they should pull the trigger.

2. Offensive Guard

The Cardinals are 4-9, meaning they have multiple holes to fill in their rebuild/retool. Drafting an offensive guard could help protect Kyler and give time for his receiving weapons, DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, and Zach Ertz, to create separation downfield. The Cardinals have one of the league’s worst defenses, but they won’t be a successful playoff team unless they improve their offensive line.

1. Offensive Tackle

If the best player available in the first round is either a defensive end or offensive guard, I’d likely select that player. If not, I’d be happy to even reach a bit for an offensive tackle. The most significant position in football is quarterback, which they already have solidified in Kyler Murray. But the next most important position is arguably offensive tackle.

The Cardinals already have their offensive skill positions in place but need to fix their offensive line to put their skill players in a better situation to succeed. The last tackle the Cardinals selected in the first round of the NFL draft was D.J. Humphries back in 2015. They need to do a better job of prioritizing the offensive line, starting with this upcoming draft.



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