Arizona Cardinals: Building the Team's Definitive 2012 NFL Draft Blueprint

Sigmund BloomNFL Draft Lead WriterMarch 5, 2012

Levi's likely leaving, so the Cardinals need to look for offensive tackles in the draft.
Levi's likely leaving, so the Cardinals need to look for offensive tackles in the draft.Harry How/Getty Images

In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals are without their second-round pick, sent to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Kevin Kolb trade last year.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers have become one of the elite teams in the NFC. The Seattle Seahawks are getting stronger, and the St. Louis Rams have nowhere to go but up. Maximizing every draft pick is crucial for the Cardinals to have any chance of returning to the recent glory days of back-to-back division titles and a trip to the Super Bowl.


Round 1, No. 13

Plan A: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford. With Levi Brown contract-restructuring talks breaking down, the Cardinals will likely be in the market for a left tackle. Martin protected Andrew Luck's blind side for three years, so he's seasoned. This pick becomes a must if the team signs Peyton Manning.

Plan B: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC. Sam Acho was a rookie star and O'Brien Schofield had his moments, but there is still a big need for a game-changing pass rusher in the desert.


Round 3, No. 90

Plan A: Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi. The Cardinals don't just need a left tackle, they need a right tackle too.

Plan B: Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California. Kolb isn't the only ex-Eagle who disappointed for Arizona last year. They need a dynamic ILB to play next to Daryl Washington.

Peyton Manning will need more quality wide receivers if he comes to Glendale
Peyton Manning will need more quality wide receivers if he comes to GlendaleStreeter Lecka/Getty Images


Round 4, No. 112

Plan A: James-Michael Johnson, ILB, Nevada. Johnson is one of the last quality ILBs on the board and he would be a great use of a fourth-round pick.

Plan B: A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois. With Early Doucet gone in free agency and Stephen Williams having a poor second year, a receiver like Jenkins could make a nice addition to three-wide sets. 


Round 5, No. 143

Plan A: Ryan Steed, CB, Furman. The Cardinals have had success drafting small school corners, and one of those players, Greg Toler, is coming off an ACL tear, so depth is important here.

Plan B: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE/OLB, Troy. Massaquoi would be a nice find in the fifth if the Cardinals are still looking for a pass rusher on the third day.


Round 6, No. 174

Plan A: Derek Wolfe, DL, Cincinnati - Depth on the defensive line is always worth building, and Wolfe can even play the nose in a pinch.

Plan B: Tim Benford, WR, Tennessee Tech. Wide receiver is a need, but the position is deep enough that the Cardinals can wait if better options present themselves while they are on the board.


Round 7, No. 205

Plan A: Lance Lewis, WR, East Carolina. Matt Waldman makes a compelling case for Lewis as one of the best sleeper wide receivers in the draft.

Plan B: Donald Stephenson, OT, Oklahoma. When in doubt, build depth on the offensive line.