Cards key in on defensive weapon

The Cardinals boast a significant amount of depth at most offensive positions, so they will once again turn the majority of their attention to defense in this year's draft. Having met with several players over the course of Senior Bowl week and the NFL Combine, one defensive end-linebacker hybrid has stood out for his ability to excel in the 3-4 defense.

Cliff Avril (6'3", 251 pounds) is a fast, athletic pass rusher who has showcased his skills for Purdue over the last four years. He had 41 tackles last season, with 15 of those going for losses. He also posted 6.5 sacks and returned interception 43 yards for a touchdown.

Avril has the ability sift through the trash and find the ball. He is considered a tweener and would be a good fit for defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's revamped 3-4 scheme. Since Arizona has been experimenting with the 3-4 in recent seasons, he could play either defensive end or outside linebacker.

Avril understood the importance getting to work with professional coaches and some of the best players in the country at the Senior Bowl.

"Not too many people get to talk to scouts and coaches from each team. I am very happy to be here," said Avril from Mobile, Ala., during Senior Bowl week. "I just want to show that I can play with the best of them and compete with the best of them. I just want to go out there and have fun."

Avril shows great speed and quickness when in pursuit of ball-carriers. He has a non-stop motor and is a leader on the field and in the locker room.

It has been noted by scouts and coaches alike that Avril must do a better job getting of blocks and filling against the run. Working on his technique from the down position would go a long way to helping this aspect of his game.

Despite his shortcomings, Avril knows what he will bring to the team that drafts him this April.

"I am a hardworking player; I'm a guy who is willing to do anything for the team; and I'm a guy who is going to go out there and have fun with it because it's a game, but at the same time, to have fun you have to make plays. That's my idea of what their going to get from me."

Could the Cardinals be the team to reap the rewards of drafting Avril? It will likely cost at least a third-round pick, but the price may be worth the payoff.

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