Arizona Cardinals: Top Three Needs in the 2021 NFL Draft
Culture, Culture, Culture. If there is one thing that the Arizona Cardinals have made clear this off-season it’s that they are looking for culture guys who can bring an aggressive mentality to this team that needs it. Sure there is going to be some needs that will be listed, but there’s going to be an underlying theme with whoever it is they draft at 16 this year that must be taken into account.
Chances are the guy they draft is going to be aggressive and be either internally motivated or externally motivated by doubters and what not. So without further ado, here are the top three NFL draft needs for the Arizona Cardinals.
After a beautifully written and long love letter to fans in the Players Tribune the fans got some much needed closer with now former Cardinals star Patrick Peterson. His departure leaves a large hole in the defense at corner. Sure there is Byron Murphy and the Cardinals just went and signed Super Bowl Hero Malcolm Butler to a one year deal but they are looking for the guy that can go up against another teams number one receiver for years to come.
The player that could best fit this mold is Jaycee Horn from South Carolina. Son of former NFL Wide Receiver Joe Horn, Jaycee comes from an NFL bloodline which certain scouts find appealing. The real draw to horn however is the fact that he can line up in any scheme and travel with the opponent’s most talented target. He plays a physical man coverage which fits into what Cardinals Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph likes to run and he has the ability to track down the receiver even if he is beat off the line. Check out some of his film below.
Though Chase Edmonds deserves more carries, Kliff Kingsbury‘s offense requires at least one more running back that can catch balls out of the backfield and create linebacker mismatches. With the Cardinals saying goodbye to Kenyan Drake that seems to open the door to the possibility of selecting a running back in the first round of this particular NFL Draft.
Who is a better option than a player who outright said he is dying to be picked by the Arizona Cardinals at 16? That’s right, Travis Etienne from the University of Clemson. Etienne is an instinctive runner with good vision, anticipation, runs hard, has a quick first step to the hole, and most importantly has decent receiving skills that would make him a perfect fit in Kingsbury’s “pro-raid” offense. Check out some of his highlights below.
Let’s play conspiracy theorist for just one second. There is a talent in this draft that comes at a position of somewhat need that can really make an impact if utilized properly. The Arizona Cardinals currently have serviceable tight ends but not one that is a big enough target for Kyler Murray to really go to in short yardage situations. After the loss of Dan Arnold, the offense may need this type of threat.
With Steve Keim‘s track record of drafting busts in the first round (for the most part) it is not all that insane to think they could trade this years and next years first and second to a team like Detroit or Atlanta in order to snag Florida Tight End Kyle Pitts. This idea comes from ESPN Draft Analyst Dan Orlovsky. There are some draft experts that are calling Pitts a “near perfect prospect” calling him the perfect combination of speed, strength and smarts. All of which would pay dividends in Arizona.
The Cardinals could live in the nightmares of opposing defenses when they have to take into account covering Deandre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Kyle Pitts, and oh by the way, making sure Kyler Murray doesn’t rip off a 40-50 yard run just because he feels like it. I would personally be re-missed if I did not include this possibility in the article. So without further ado, check out some of Kyle Pitts’s highlights below.
Of course there are a few other places the Cardinals could choose to go like offensive line or Wide Receiver these are just some of the players that will be there in round one. If I am being honest I expect the Cardinals are more likely to trade backwards rather than forwards, but that’s why we watch right? Since no one actually knows what the heck these teams are going to do until it is showtime.
Who do you think the Arizona Cardinals will draft? Leave a comment below.
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Mandatory Photo Credit: AZCardinals.com