The Arizona Cardinals biggest position of need heading into this offseason is once again at offensive tackle, and the move to sign veteran Eric Winston last offseason didn’t work out as expected. He’ll bounce back, but he’s also set to hit free agency this offseason. And with Bradley Sowell just about unworkable as a starter, the Cardinals desperately need to upgrade at tackle in order to help keep Carson Palmer upright and give Andre Ellington more spacious running lanes to the outside (not that Ellington truly needs a huge amount of room to operate anyway).
In his first 2o14 NFL Mock Draft on NFL.com, the excellent Daniel Jeremiah has the Arizona Cardinals taking star Alabama Crimson Tide tackle Cyrus Kouandjio off the board with the 21st pick in the draft. Kouandjio isn’t as good of a prospect as the likes of Taylor Lewan- let alone Auburn’s Greg Robinson or Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews- but Kouandjio is a talented prospect in his own right who reminds me of last year’s Bama star D.J. Fluker.
Kouandjio is best-suited to play as a right tackle in the NFL, because he’s a bigger guy who will probably struggle to gain his footing in pass protection as a rookie. He’s definitely worth a first-round pick, though, because he does have upside and should end up being a solid offensive tackle. The talent at tackle in this draft class was dealt a major blow when Cedric Ogbuehi decided to stay in school, but a guy like Kouandjio could be the big upgrade the Cardinals need. I don’t think the Cards can afford to sit tight at tackle in the first round, so they should strongly consider pulling him.
Missouri’s Kony Ealy is still available in Jeremiah’s mock, so he’s also a possibility for the Cardinals as a pass rusher. Ealy sometimes sneaks into the top ten in mock drafts, so he would be a good value at 21 for Steve Keim and Bruce Arians. Cornerback Darqueze Dennard is a top-notch prospect at the position, as well, so I would consider him a possibility for the Cardinals. That said, tackle is such a big need that it’s important for them to make that pick.