Cardinals Draft Dish: Sweet 16

Whether it's explosive Aqib Talib, dynamic Dominique Rogers-Cromartie or local prospect Antoine Cason, Arizona is likely going to go after the top cornerback available when it goes on the clock at No. 16. But will the Cardinals swoop in on a different position if a top player falls? Team expert Amberly Richardson examines the first-round outlook.

In 2007, the Cardinals picked high in the draft with lofty expectations. This year, Arizona is sitting pretty at No. 16 and is not changing its approach. Ken Whisenhunt knows it takes more brainpower to find an impact player at No. 16.

"I think when you're picking in a position like this (16), you have to work even harder, because the number of players that potentially could be there seem to be a lot more, and you want to have done your homework on each one of them," Whisenhunt said.

Rod Graves likes the view from his current perch.

"[The No. 16 pick] is an indication of the progress our team is making and the job Ken and our staff are doing. We and the players feel like it's only going to get better for us," Graves said.

The Cardinals organization has a lot of work. Deciding between an exciting nickel back, explosive running back or enticing inside linebacker could make or break the season. Here is a look the top candidates.

Need: Running Back

Jonathan Stewart (Oregon) is a definite first-round possibility, but a recent toe surgery prevented him from working out at his Pro Day and could scare off the Cardinals. Stewart would work well backing up Edgerrin James, who will cap his 10th season this year. Stewart's strength and vision could do wonders for the Cardinals budding commitment to the run. If Arizona forgoes a running back in the first round, there is plenty of talent in the later rounds.

Cardinalinsider.com asked Ken Whisenhunt about the need for a young running back to help out James.

"The biggest thing we have to do is find somebody who can share that load with Edgerrin James and J.J. Arrington is certainly a consideration, as is Marcel Shipp," Whisenhunt said. "We're obviously always looking to get a young player at the position to hopefully develop, and it would be nice to have a guy who would give us the home run ability at that position like we've seen a lot of young backs do recently."

Need: Defensive End

The Cardinals could use a cream-of-the-crop pass-rusher who could make an immediate impact. Derrick Harvey (Florida) fits the need. He is quick off the snap and ready to put his high effort into action. Arizona is unlikely to burn a first-round pick on a pass-rush specialist since it picked up Travis LaBoy and Clark Haggans in the offseason. There are second- or third-rounders like Phillip Merling who could come equipped with similar abilities.

Later Needs: Offensive Line, Wide Receiver, Linebacker

Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of several NFL players for Sixthman Communications.


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