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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Analyzing Kiper Grade A draft: Cardinals

By Josh Weinfuss

In Mel Kiper's latest mock draft Insider, the ESPN draft insider identified two of the Arizona Cardinalsmost important needs with his first two picks.

They'll start filling those needs with the 20th pick in the first round of May's NFL draft, but the third pick may come as a surprise.

This version of Kiper's mock draft is a bit different than his previous projections. Kiper's Grade A mock predicted the first three rounds based on who he would take if he was each team's general manager compared to his typical mocks based on where he thinks players will be chosen.

With the Cardinals first pick, Kiper predicts they will select outside linebacker Anthony Barr from UCLA. It's very possible considering Arizona's need for depth at the position and especially since Barr easily could be the best player available on the board when Arizona's first pick rolls around.

Kiper has former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron going to the Cardinals in the second round at No. 52. I think the only way Arizona takes a quarterback in the second round is if they secure a right tackle between now and the first round of the draft. As of now, the Cardinals will choose their next starting right tackle between a group that consists of Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell and Nate Potter -- all having entered the league within the past two years. A veteran presence is needed on the right side. As for McCarron, at 6 feet 3, he's slightly undersized for Cardinals coach Bruce Arians' scheme. The upside is McCarron is a quarterback who needs time to develop, and he would have time to do that spending 2014 behind Carson Palmer.

In the third round, Kiper has Arizona choosing Wyoming wide receiver Robert Herron. With Arizona's depth at wide receiver, if the Cardinals choose Herron, it'd be another best-player-available pick by general manager Steve Keim. The Cardinals have receivers already on the roster who fill the role as a fourth option and who are priced accordingly such as Jaron Brown, Brittan Golden and Teddy Williams.

While an outside linebacker and quarterback are among their priorities, Arizona has bigger needs in the first three rounds. The Cardinals need a safety and a young tight end and with the talent level high among the best of each position, the Cards could look to fill those needs early.