What defensive sleepers will Graves dig up?

The Cardinals will attempt to shore up an undermanned defense through the draft. While GM Rod Graves will target top-tier defenders with his first-day picks, finding talent in the later rounds will be just as important. Brad Wilbricht analyzes five late-round sleepers who could excel in the Cardinals defense.

Defensive Tackle: Brigham Harwell, UCLA

Harwell features excellent awareness and a non-stop motor. He's an effective pass-rusher and excels making plays in the backfield. Although he lacks ideal size (6'0", 287 pounds), he possesses the ability to play both inside and outside along the defensive line. He began his college career at defensive end but moved to defensive tackle after adding sufficient bulk.

Durability remains a major concern. Harwell missed the final 11 games in 2007 after suffering a knee injury. He initially applied for a medical red-shirt, but has since declared for the NFL draft.

Harwell would provide the Cardinals with much needed depth in the trenches. His quickness and versatility are best suited for the Cardinals' 3-4 defensive scheme.

Defensive End: Greyson Gunheim, Washington

Gunheim lacks top-end speed, but compensates with outstanding form and technique. He enjoyed an extremely productive college career, totaling 139 total tackles, 37.5 tackles for a loss, and 18 sacks.

Gunheim features a solid frame (6'5", 252 pounds) and has room to add bulk. He's a relentless pass-rusher, using his long wingspan to push back offensive linemen. He also demonstrates good awareness and a high football IQ.

Durability is a concern, as Gunheim suffered multiple injuries early in his college career. However, he started all 13 games for the Huskies in 2007 and finished his senior season with no major setbacks. Although Gunheim may never emerge as a full-time starter in the NFL, he could provide the Cardinals with an effective pass-rushing specialist.


LB Brandon Miller
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Linebacker: Brandon Miller, Georgia

Miller (6'3", 253 pounds) is an aggressive player who possesses tremendous athletic ability. He is excellent in pursuit and boasts good closing speed. He has adequate range and is dependable in pass defense.

Miller was utilized at multiple positions during his college career, contributing at inside linebacker, outside linebacker and defensive end. He proved his toughness playing through multiple injuries.

While he shows outstanding promise, Miller's fundamentals need refinement, as he lacks ideal footwork and technique. If corrected, his potential could skyrocket. Miller would supply the Cardinals with exceptional versatility. His aggressive nature would be a natural fit in Clancy Pendergast's high-energy defense.

Cornerback: Damon Jenkins, Fresno State

Jenkins possesses adequate size (5'10", 200 pounds) and outstanding speed. He displays an excellent closing burst while the ball is in the air. Jenkins has solid ball skills and should continue to develop his play-making ability. He is fearless in run support and can make plays behind the line of scrimmage.

The major concern regarding Jenkins is his lack of technique. He's a raw prospect and will need to improve his footwork and hip flexibility. His mental capacity has also been questioned by NFL scouts. He struggled academically early in his college career and was deemed ineligible for the 2003 season.

In addition to providing depth to the Cardinals depleted secondary, Jenkins could contribute on special teams. He excels in kick coverage and could develop into a core special teams player.

Safety: Damon Nickson, Middle Tennessee State

Nickson is an undersized safety (6'0", 183 pounds) but plays bigger than his size. He has adequate range and can read plays as they develop. He is an ultra-aggressive player who demonstrates outstanding ball skills.

Nickson is a tremendous play-maker and shows elusiveness with the ball in his hands. He finished his college career with eight interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. Additionally, he plays with a mean streak and can deliver the big hit. He wraps up on contact and is a sound open-field tackler.

Nickson is occasionally caught out of position, something that can be corrected with proper coaching. He would provide the Cardinals with a potential nickel back and an additional return threat on special teams. Nickson averaged 24 yards per kick return, returning two for TDs.


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