Senior Bowl: Cards Target a Versatile Lineman

The Cardinals have been actively scouting offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl. The good news is that the coaching staff has found a prospect who could step in and start as a rookie. The bad news is that a division rival has become enamored with the same the player.

The Cardinals offensive line took a huge step forward last season, but there is plenty of progress still to be made. One of the main tasks this off-season will be to add depth to a thin group of offensive linemen.

One player who's already stood out this week is Nebraska offensive tackle Carl Nicks. As a senior, Nicks started 11 games at left tackle and anchored a line that ranked in the top-30 in sacks allowed (18 in 12 games).

"I'm a physical guy who can run block; and I'm an athletic guy who can pass protect," Nicks said.

Nicks' size (6'5", 345 pounds) speaks for itself, but Cardinals scouts took notice of his quickness and versatility during Senior Bowl drills this week.

"He has size and he knows what to do with it," said one Cardinals coach.

Nicks played primarily at the tackle position in college but has the versatility to play on the interior as well, which makes him more attractive to Arizona.

"Nicks is a guy who can play guard as well as tackle," said Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, who coaches Nicks on the North Team.

"He's stepped into our system this week and had to work on some things and he's gotten a lot better at them and you can definitely see the improvement."

While the right side of the Cardinals' line looks to be set with RT Levi Brown and RG Deuce Lutui, improvements could be made on the left side. A player of Nicks' caliber could push LT Mike Gandy and LG Reggie Wells for playing time.

The Cardinals coaching staff are not the only ones who have taken notice of Nicks. The St. Louis Rams have also expressed interest in the mammoth lineman.

St. Louis had its share of problems on the offensive line last year, losing four players to injury.

"Last season we had the roster from hell," said the Rams coach. "We had new players in the lineup every week."

That same coach referred to Nicks as "dominant," noting that Nicks could make an immediate impact in St. Louis.

Nicks is ranked as a top-10 offensive lineman. He is expected to come off the board by the end of day one and the Cardinals could jump on him if he makes it to round three.

He could be the second-coming off Leonard Davis but at a quarter of the price.

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