Cardinals Draft Preview

The draft is fast approaching and the Cardinals' targets are coming into focus. What position will Arizona target in round one? Will Rod Graves grab a cornerback to replace Antrel Rolle? Here is how things stack up with the draft less than two months away...

DRAFT BREAKDOWN -- We think they should pick...

Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida

There aren't many quality corners available in free agency, and the Cardinals don't have the cap space to sign anyone of significance anyway.

Moving Antrel Rolle from cornerback to free safety is a smart move that should play to Rolle's strengths. But it leaves the club thin at corner. The starters, Rod Hood and Eric Green, are solid, but they aren't elite, shutdown guys.

The Cardinals could use one of those and Jenkins supposedly has the skills to fill that role. At 6-feet and 200 pounds he has good size, along with exceptional athletic ability.

If the club chooses to go another direction in the first round, such as taking Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall or a defensive end such as Ohio State's Vernon Gholston, they could get a cornerback later.

Arizona corner Antoine Cason helped himself with a solid performance at the combine, and no cornerback was more productive in college the past four seasons.

The club has addressed some of its problems in free agency. The signing of defensive end/outside linebacker Travis LaBoy should help ease the pain of losing Calvin Pace in free agency to the Jets.

Coaches think LaBoy has similar skills. He has played end in a 4-3 during his four-year career in Tennessee, but coaches think he can make the transition to hybrid outside linebacker. He'll play standing up at times and will move to a down stance and rush the pass in nickel situations.

The club also solidified its tight end spot with the signing of nine-year veteran Jerame Tuman, who played for coach Ken Whisenhunt in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals needed to add some experience to that position, and Tuman is regarded as an excellent blocker, although he finished last year on injured reserve with a back problem.


1. Cornerback: They likely won't address the position in free agency. Behind starters Rod Hood and Eric Green are Michael Adams, who barely played last year as an undrafted rookie, and Ralph Brown, a journeyman. The club needs a playmaker here, as well as some depth. The team hasn't drafted an elite corner since taking Aeneas Williams in the third round in 1991.

2. Running back: Starter Edgerrin James is still productive, gaining more than 1,200 yards last year for one of the league's worst rushing attacks. But he lacks big-play ability, and backups J.J. Arrington and Marcel Shipp don't provide it, either. The Cardinals could use a young back with speed to groom as James' replacement.

3. Defensive end: Signing Travis LaBoy helped but there are depth questions. Chike Okeafor and Bertrand Berry are coming back from serious injury and there isn't much behind them. Plus, a club can never have too many pass rushers, and the Cardinals need a young one that they can count upon for several years, in addition to playing a significant role in passing situations this year.


The Cardinals are thrilled to be picking No. 16, breaking a five-year streak of picking in the top 10.

Those high picks have wreaked havoc on the team's salary cap, most notably the deal given to Larry Fitzgerald, the third overall pick in 2003.

The Cardinals likely won't target a specific player, because they know anything could happen ahead of them. It's also unlikely they will trade up. They don't want to give up draft picks, especially following a year in which they took only five players in the draft, four of whom made the team.

That's not nearly enough help for a team that's desperately in need of help. The club also needs the help from a cap standpoint. Because they have missed on some high picks, they've had to address those needs in free agency, spending more money than it had planned.

They also are keeping their options open because they have so many needs. They could use a running back, so Illinois' running Rashard Mendenhall is a possibility. They need a cornerback, so South Florida's Mike Jenkins would make sense, as would Troy's Leodis McKelvin or Arizona's Antoine Cason.

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