The NFL draft will be held from May 8-10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Cardinals addressed several needs in free agency and are now zeroing in on their draft targets. Here’s the final positional primer heading into Thursday’s first round.
Draft primer: Cornerback
Prospects by projected draft round:
First: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State; Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State; Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech; Jason Verrett, TCU; Bradley Roby, Ohio State.
Second: Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State; Phillip Gaines, Rice; Keith McGill, Utah.
Third/fourth: Pierre Desir, Lindenwood; Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska; Marcus Robertson, Florida; Bashaud Breeland, Clemson; Jaylen Watkins, Florida; Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State; Walt Aikens, Liberty; Nevin Lawson, Utah State; Louchiez Purifoy, Florida; Chris Davis, Auburn; E.J. Gaines, Missouri; Ricardo Allen, Purdue.
Fifth or later: Ross Cockrell, Duke; Terrance Mitchell, Oregon; Antone Exum, Virginia Tech; Kendall James, Maine; Donate Johnson, North Carolina State; Jemea Thomas, Georgia Tech; Andre Hal, Vanderbilt; Shaquille Richardson, Arizona; Victor Hampton, South Carolina; Deion Belue, Alabama; Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame; Travis Carrie, Ohio; Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma.
Analysis: The Cardinals beefed up their cornerback spot for 2014 with the addition of Antonio Cromartie, a three-time Pro Bowler who will join Patrick Peterson in the starting lineup. Last year’s starter, Jerraud Powers, will move to nickel cornerback, while safety
Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard are ranked as the two top players at the position, but cornerback-needy teams above the Cardinals may gobble them up before No. 20. Kyle Fuller, Jason Verrett and Bradley Roby would be the next best available cornerbacks who could be considered in the first round, although if Dennard and Gilbert are gone, there will likely be better players available at other positions. The middle and late rounds are projected to be deep at cornerback, with Lamarcus Joyner a Day 2 possibility and players like Shaquille Richardson and Antone Exum projected to be available on Day 3.