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. We’ll take a look at each position over the next few weeks.
Draft primer: Special teams
Prospects by projected draft round:
First through fourth: None.
Fifth or later: P Kirby Van Der Kamp, Iowa State; K Chris Boswell, Rice; K Anthony Fera, Texas; P Tom Hornsey, Memphis.
Analysis: The Cardinals’ three starting specialists – Jay Feely, Dave Zastudil and Mike Leach – are all in their mid-to-late 30s, but there isn’t an urgent need to find their replacements in the draft. Even though Zastudil is the only one signed past 2014, it’s usually more prudent to sign special teams players in free agency rather than using a draft pick on one. The Cardinals went that route in the offseason when they added Danny Hrapmann to the roster to give Feely competition for the kicking job, while Zastudil and Leach seem locked in at their spots.
If the Cardinals do add a kicker, punter or long-snapper, it will be because they believe that addition would be a major upgrade. Punter Kirby Van Der Kemp is the highest-rated special teams player on the board, projected as a fifth-round pick. Kickers Chris Boswell and Anthony Fera are expected to get drafted, as is punt Tom Hornsey. Kansas State’s Marcus Heit is the top-ranked long snapper eligible for the draft but he may have to go the free agent route.
The Cardinals are hoping to make a run at the Super Bowl next season, and they’ll likely choose to address offensive and defensive needs with their selections while bringing back veterans Zastudil, Feely and Leach as the special teams mainstays.