Fans of the Arizona Cardinals should be optimistic about what they witnessed this season. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury exceeded expectations placed upon him by this particular writer. Arizona is facing an uphill climb as it relates to the talent on its team compared to others, which makes all that they accomplished even more remarkable. The Cardinals are a young team likely to get even younger this offseason. If the youth grows up quickly, Arizona might be a team to watch in the future of the NFC West.
Here’s what you need to know about the Cardinals and the 2020 NFL Draft.
2020 draft picks
- Round 1: Arizona
- Round 2: Arizona
- Round 3: Arizona
- Round 4: Arizona
- Round 5: Miami
- Round 6: New England
- Round 7: Arizona
The Cardinals used their 2020 fifth-round pick to select Jalen Thompson in last year’s supplemental draft, but they have Miami’s due to the Josh Rosen trade. The Patriots’ sixth-round pick comes courtesy of the trade of Korey Cunningham.
Biggest offseason needs
- Offensive tackle
- Edge rusher
- Interior offensive line
- Defensive line
- Tight end
- Running back
- Wide receiver
Arizona is unlikely to take a quarterback in the first round for the third consecutive year. The focus then becomes building an offensive line fit to protect Murray. The ragtag unit has allowed the fifth-most sacks in 2019. The team also needs to strengthen their pass rush, which is currently reliant on Chandler Jones. Those are just some of the surface level needs. The roster, as a whole, needs a lot of work. There are a lot of young players on the roster that would help them immensely if they were able to take the next step in their respective careers: cornerback Byron Murphy, wide receiver Hakeem Butler, defensive end Zach Allen and others.
Prospects to watch
Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Wirfs is widely regarded as a first-round selection but some differ over his best position in the NFL. Some feel he is best suited to play guard, while others pound the table as an offensive tackle. At the end of the day, Arizona needs to improve both positions. The lineman needs to become more consistent with his technique. Murray is a capable scrambler but that has shown to be a non-sustainable style of play at the quarterback position long-term.
Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame
Okwara is a really quick player around the edge but he needs to develop more of a counter move when his initial rush is stoned. The North Carolina native does a great job of honing in on the football when he gets into the backfield. One of the biggest areas of development from last season to 2019 has been his comfort in coverage and awareness to set the edge. There are not many veterans that would be a better teacher than Jones.
Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
Cleveland has already declared as an early entrant for the 2020 NFL Draft. He is quick out of his stance and shows good lateral quickness. One aspect of his game that has been particularly fun to watch is his inclination to look for work when there are no rushers in his gap. He aids the other linemen when he is not engaged. Cleveland looks like a solid Day 2 choice in a strong offensive tackle class.