Arizona Cardinals: How to Fix Team's Biggest Problems in Seven Rounds
In typical Arizona fashion, the Cardinals waited until they had no chance at the playoffs to win another game.
While it may feel good for the players to get back into the win column, they are really just costing themselves draft position at this point.
Speaking of the draft, we are just over four months away from one of the biggest events of the offseason.
As evident by their nine-game losing streak, there are several holes that Arizona needs to fill both through the draft and free agency.
Over the next few slides, we will take a look at how to fix the team's biggest problems through free agency and the draft.
Quarterback: Kevin Kolb had a few nice games early in the season, but if Arizona is going to keep him around then they need a quality backup. Kolb gets hurt too much and is making too much money.
John Skelton and Ryan Lindley have been awful this year. They have a lot of work to do before they can be considered starting-caliber quarterbacks.
Running Back: At the start of the year, the Cardinals were looking really good at the running back position. Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams both came into the year healthy and William Powell had a solid preseason.
The fact is that both Wells and Williams are not reliable. Arizona does not need a big name back, but a guy who is capable of carrying the ball 15 times a game without being hurt every week.
Left Tackle: It seems that every year we are begging the Cardinals to get help on the offensive line and it never happens. With a high pick this year, they need to find a guy to protect the quarterback.
Nate Potter and Bobby Massie have played fairly well as of late, but they should not be the two players starting at tackle next year. It is not as big of a need as it has been in years past, but if they are in a position to get a stud left tackle, they should jump at the opportunity.
Right Guard: Adam Snyder has been a liability at the right guard spot for most of this year. He has had a couple of solid games, but the consistency is lacking. With Lyle Sendlein and Daryn Colledge at center and left guard, respectively, an upgrade at right guard makes for a solid interior line.
Middle Linebacker: Arizona has, arguably, the best inside linebacker in the league right now in Daryl Washington. The only problem is that they run a 3-4 and need two of them. Paris Lenon is aging fast and has not been as good as we are used to seeing. An upgrade here is needed.
Cornerback: Similar to the middle linebacker position, the Cardinals have one very good player at corner, but need an upgrade on the other side. Patrick Peterson has been great for the team this year, but William Gay has left something to be desired. This is not a huge need for Arizona, but if they can upgrade middle linebacker and corner, their defense will easily be at elite status.
Trade Up: With the way Arizona has been playing, it looks like they will have a top ten pick in the draft this year. As we saw last year, having a high pick is not always good enough. Cleveland traded up one spot to take Trent Richardson while Washington moved up four spots to get their hands on Robert Griffin III.
If the Cardinals see someone they like, then they may find themselves in a position to trade for that No. 1 or No. 2 pick. Although I am not a fan of this idea, the front office could feel the pressure to bring in a big name quarterback like Geno Smith.
Trade Down: Every year, there are a few players taken in the middle or near the end of the first round that turn into studs. For the past couple of years I have found myself hoping that the Cards move back in the draft to acquire an extra pick or two.
This year is no different. Although there are some quality players that could still be on the board when it is Arizona’s turn to pick, they have multiple needs to address.
What they do in free agency will be a huge factor in whether or not they should trade down in the draft. If they do not sign anyone, then it would be a must to move down. If they make a couple of moves, then it is still an option—but not necessary.
Stay Put: The Cardinals have kept their phones on silent the past couple of years, making no early moves on draft day. This is probably what they will do again in the 2013 draft.
A lot of it will depend on how free agency goes, but right now their best option is to keep their pick as it is.
Manti Te’o: Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te’o has been an absolute stud for Notre Dame over the past couple of years. The Cardinals are in a good position to draft the linebacker and he would be a great replacement for Paris Lenon.
Luke Joeckel: If the Cardinals are unable to sign a tackle in free agency, then Luke Joeckel is definitely the way to go. No matter who they put under center, their blind side will be protected for many years. Joeckel is a great tackle who needs to be taken if he is still on the board.
Chance Warmack: Trading down to get a solid guard prospect sounds like a pretty good idea for a team with Adam Snyder at right guard. Warmack has the potential to be a very solid player in this league and should be on the Cardinals' draft list.
Matt Barkley/Tyler Wilson: I am not a big fan of a Tyler Wilson pick unless it is in the second round or by trading back in the first. As for Matt Barkley, Arizona will likely have him on their radar even though he should be avoided at all costs.
These are the two names that are usually brought up when talking about quarterbacks the Cardinals should target. It is a weak class this year and taking one early in the first round would be a mistake.
The fact of the matter is that Arizona is not going to bring in every big name free agent on the market.
They have a lot of options this offseason, but there is one that stands out to me. Their first move should be to target one of the many free-agent tackles available. Jake Long, Jermon Bushrod and Ryan Clady are just a few of the great players that could be available.
From here you sign Matt Moore as your backup quarterback. He would be attracted to Arizona because he knows he will have a shot at the starting job.
Kevin Kolb has his contract restructured and then you have two above-average quarterbacks battling for a starting job. They will both be motivated and will have a much better offensive line to play under.
Then in the draft, they can target a guy like Manti Te’o instead of having to focus on the offense.
With the majority of their needs filled, Arizona can spend day two and three drafting the best players available.