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Friday, April 16, 2010
Hints on Cardinals' draft thinking

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The moves teams make in March and into April can help us determine how teams might want to proceed in the draft.

The 49ers added Ted Ginn Jr., making it less imperative for them to find a return specialist in the draft. The Lions acquired guard Rob Sims from Seattle, an indication the team might not be focusing on offensive tackle early (left tackle Jeff Backus might have slid to guard in that case). The Rams signed veteran defensive tackle Fred Robbins without pursuing a starting quarterback, an indication Sam Bradford might be their first-round choice, not Ndamukong Suh.

How have the Cardinals framed their draft priorities? They've added veteran depth at guard, making it less important for them to consider Mike Iupati or another interior lineman early in the draft. They added veteran depth at inside linebacker by signing Paris Lenon, a 70-game starter over the last five seasons. They added a starting outside linebacker in Joey Porter. They added quarterback depth by signing Derek Anderson.

Nose tackle is one key position the Cardinals haven't addressed. They have not re-signed veteran starter Bryan Robinson. They cannot count on Gabe Watson's knees or performance. They cannot count on Alan Branch, who might be a better fit for end. The problem, of course, is that quality 3-4 nose tackles aren't easy to find in the draft. The Cardinals could have a shot at Terrence Cody with the 26th overall choice, but with so many teams playing the 3-4, there are no guarantees.

Inside linebacker could be another position to target even if the Cardinals think Lenon and Gerald Hayes can perform ably this season. Nose tackle stands out more, in my view, based on the importance of the position and the Cardinals' inactivity in addressing its depth so far this offseason.