Wednesday, May 7, 2014
RT among positions Cards will consider
By Josh Weinfuss
There are a few positions in this year's NFL draft that were deep enough to draw the notice of Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim.
Wide receiver was one. The other was tackle. And the latter is good news for the Cardinals.
Keim made it clear last week Arizona will contemplate drafting at every position during their six picks this week, right tackle included. Common sense says starting left tackle and guard are the only positions at which Arizona is locked in. For the first time in recent memory, the left side of the Cardinals' line is solidified with the offseason signing of left tackle Jared Veldheer and the return of left guard Jonathan Cooper from a broken leg. Center Lyle Sendlein has been steady and consistent in the middle.
But it's the right side that's questionable heading into the draft.
Right guard Paul Fanaika returns as the incumbent starter while right tackle is up for grabs between Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie. All three are able but the Cardinals won't hesitate if an upgrade is on the draft board.
"Obviously Bradley did a nice job on the left side last year," Keim said. "We'll see how he can transition to the right side and then Bobby Massie is a guy that has all the physical tools but we've talked about it over and over -- it's up to him. He's a guy that you hope develops. Only time will tell."
The Cardinals may not give Massie or Sowell much time to prove themselves, especially if they can land a tackle in the first or second round. Of the top six tackle prospects, it's unlikely Auburn's Greg Robinson, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Michigan's Taylor Lewan will be available when the Cardinals draft at 20th. That leaves the possibility of Notre Dame's Zack Martin, Virginia's Morgan Moses and Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio.
In last year's draft, tackles were the position du jour with three going in the top four picks. This year's class is even deeper, Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough said.
"We were talking today that, possibly, any of the top four tackles (in this year's draft) could've gone one overall in the draft last year," he said.
Yet while a tackle is on Arizona's radar, the best-player-available philosophy may lead the Cardinals to another option come pick No. 20 or No. 52. Finding a good fit on the offensive line has long been a conundrum for the Cardinals.
Arizona drafted five offensive linemen in 2012 and 2013 combined, but that was after not picking any in the two years prior. Since 1970, the Cardinals have picked seven offensive linemen in the first round.
In the last 10 years, 13 of Arizona's 72 draft picks were offensive linemen.
The Cardinals will be looking again this year, but the question this year becomes will they find a right tackle to solidify the whole line? And when?