With the first few waves of free agency in the rear view, the Cardinals are in the midst of their annual draft prep. GM Steve Keim will lay the groundwork to bring in a new class of rookies to supplement the roster already built and forge a direction upon which a few more free agents are likely to be signed.
Here is the next position group breakdown.
Draft primer: Offensive Line
The Cardinals’ situation: The Cardinals have their starters all but set heading into the draft. Rodney Hudson, D.J. Humphries, Justin Pugh and Kelvin Beachum will return in 2022. The biggest question mark has been at right guard, a position at which Justin Murray and Josh Jones split time last season. Will Hernandez, who signed this offseason as a free agent, likely takes the role this year.
The draft class: Mississippi State’s Charles Cross, North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu and Alabama’s Evan Neal are among the top tackles in the draft. It’s expected to see the trio taken in the first-round round. Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann and Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning could emerge as options for the Cardinals at No. 23 if they are available. Boston College’s Zion Johnson and Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green, two interior linemen that have been linked to the Cardinals as potential destinations, headline the guard position.
The conclusion: The Cardinals might have bigger immediate needs early in the draft but it would be foolish to rule out the possibility of selecting an offensive lineman. Even if the upcoming rookie didn’t play much, it never hurts to have extra depth and a younger piece to develop for the future, especially with four of the five starters entering the last year of their contract. It’d be hard to believe the Cards won’t grab a lineman at some point over the draft’s three days.