The Arizona Cardinals have eight picks in the NFL Draft, including No. 13 in the first round April 27 in Philadelphia.
Like several teams in the NFL, the Cardinals enter the 2017 season with a quarterback on the high side of 30 and thus contemplating whether this is the right time to bring aboard an eventual successor. Carson Palmer will be 38 in December, so the need for someone could come sooner rather than later. General manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians have looked closely at several quarterbacks during draft evaluations, making it appear that while it might not happen at pick 13, the second or third round is a distinct possibility.
Elsewhere, the defense will likely get attention during the draft because of the departures of defensive end Calais Campbell, linebacker Kevin Minter, cornerback Marcus Cooper and safety Tony Jefferson.
All the answers likely won't come from the team's eight selections, but it will be important to hit on several.
Here is a look at the Cardinals' five-year draft record with roster tallies reflecting totals as of the end of the 2016 season. Below that are key personnel moves made this year and the team's current needs heading into this draft and our projection for all their 2017 picks.
FIVE-YEAR DRAFT BREAKDOWN
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .2012 . .2013 . .2014 . .2015 . .2016
TOTAL PICKS . . . .7 . . . . . .9 . . . . .7 . . . . .7 . . . .6
STARTERS . . . . . .0 . . . . . .2 . . . . .2 . . . . .4 . . . .2
BACKUPS . . . . . .1 . . . . . .4 . . . . .3 . . . . .1 . . . .3
OTHER TEAMS . . .3 . . . . .0 . . . . .2 . . . . .1 . . . .1
OUT OF LEAGUE . .3 . . . . .3 . . . . .0 . . . . .1 . . .0
Top three draft needs
1. Cornerback: With Marcus Cooper having departed as a free agent and Justin Bethel expected to primarily man slot coverage in passing situations, expect the Cardinals to look for a potential No. 2 starting corner in the draft to play opposite Patrick Peterson. Second-year pro Brandon Williams had a fantastic camp, but got overwhelmed after just one start. Arizona isn't ready to give up on him just yet, but if there's a real stud available early in this draft that the Cardinals like, they'll take him.
2. Inside linebacker: The team brought back veteran Karlos Dansby for a third time and he'll start in the middle along with Deone Bucannon, who is explosive but a little undersized. That leaves the Cardinals covered for the 2017 season, but it doesn't mean Arizona won't resist taking one of the best inside linebackers in this year's draft and Alabama's Reuben Foster could be available when the team picks with the 13th overall selection. Head coach Bruce Arians doesn't like his rookies to see extensive time in their first NFL season, but Foster has the talent and physicality that could force Arians' hand if Dansby starts to show his age.
3. Quarterback: At some point, the Cardinals have to address the elephant in the room: their glaring need for a future franchise quarterback. Head coach Bruce Arians won't rule out veteran Carson Palmer playing for at least two more years and he is now on record as saying that adding a new, young quarterback to the roster for this season isn't a necessity. Still, the Cardinals have been eyeing several arms in advance of the draft and whether it's in the first round or the third round - or possibly even later - expect Arizona to take one at some point.
Round and overall pick number listed, along with player, position, school, height, weight and 40-yard dash time. (* - indicates compensatory pick)
1/13: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (6-4, 218, 4.53)
2/45: Davis Webb, QB, Cal (6-5, 229, 4.79)
3/77: Shaquill Griffin, CB, UCF (6-0, 194, 4.38)
4/120: John Johnson, FS, Boston College (6-1, 208, 4.61)
5/157: Ben Gedeon, LB, Michigan (6-2, 244, 4.75)
5/*179: Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming (6-1, 219, 4.48)
6/197: Grover Stewart, DL, Albany State (Ga.) (6-4, 334, 5.12)
7/231: Hayden Plinke, TE, UTEP (6-4, 264, 4.93)
Now it's your turn. NFLDraftScout.com is ready to help with its list of the top 1,000 prospects in this draft.
--Howard Balzer and TSX NFL team insiders contributed to this analysis.