Inevitably, most of the talk with the draft and the Cardinals has been about pass rushers and quarterbacks, as it should be. Those remain the two greatest areas of need. But, as many of you have pointed out before, offensive line is a unit that cannot be ignored. How the Cardinals analyze that need could dictate how the draft plays out (assuming, right now, that there is no free agency period before the draft).
Center Lyle Sendlein and guards Alan Faneca and Deuce Lutui all have expired contracts. I think the Cards feel good about bringing Sendlein back. Faneca and Lutui are much bigger unknowns. Faneca is wanted back, but he is considering retirement. Lutui is considering a fat contract, and the fact he hasn’t gotten one in Arizona yet could ultimately lead him to take an offer elsewhere.
Without knowing what the free agent rules will be, it’s impossible to know exactly what free agents will be available. It’s safe to say Levi Brown will remain at tackle – I assume on the left side; there is no reason to think otherwise – while Brandon Keith is going to have to show he is better than veteran Jeremy Bridges at the other tackle. The reason the Cards signed Rex Hadnot to a three-year deal was for exactly this scenario, and he can step in if there ends up a guard vacancy.
(It’s weird to be talking about a potential offensive lineman depth shortage, after the Cards collected so many last year that they were forced to trade long-time starter Reggie Wells to relieve the logjam.)
The Cards aren’t going to go offensive lineman with their first pick, but after that, I could see it at any point. Finding someone to begin grooming – a la Keith – now that Herman Johnson has left seems crucial. There seems to be some line depth in the draft, especially at tackle, again with the knowledge decent interior guys can often be found later or undrafted.
Tags: Alan Faneca, Brandon Keith, Deuce Lutui, draft, Herman Johnson, Jeremy Bridges, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Rex Hadnot
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