The Arizona Cardinals are going to be special on defense this year, but if they could add a strong safety early in the draft, they could be one of the best, most underrated defenses in the NFL. While many people want to look at the Seattle Seahawks or the San Francisco 49ers, teams might want to begin looking at the Cardinals defense in the same division.
Last year the Cardinals played both the Seahawks and 49ers very hard, splitting with the Seahawks and losing both to the 49ers. The Cardinals finished their regular season at home against the 49ers in hopes of making the playoffs. After being behind 17-7 at halftime, the Cards were ultimately shutdown by their division rivals and put in 3rd place barely missing out as they needed to win over the Niners to win the NFC’s last playoff spot. They would finish their season 10-6 and also become the league’s only team with a winning record to not make the playoffs.
Their defense in Arizona was playing at a very high level, but they went out and added Antonio Cromartie to the secondary to assist with the growth of Patrick Peterson. The team had a great showing from rookie Tyrann Mathieu last year as well, but they really lack a strong safety. When you look at their team they have some solid players all throughout their defense but really only lack a strong safety to win games right now.
On the defensive line the team has Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett at the defensive end position, with Dan Williams clogging the middle. They have John Abraham and Matt Shaughnessy on the outside at linebacker with last years rookie Kevin Minter and veteran Daryl Washington in the middle. Their strong safety is the only real missing piece. While the team likes Tony Jefferson the former undrafted free agent from Oklahoma, they should not go into the season with a gaping hole like that in their secondary.
While the best strong safety in this draft class will probably not be selected until after the 20th pick in the first round of the draft, the team should look to address the position in the second round. If I were the Cardinals a few players that would be on my radar with the 52nd pick in the 2014 NFL draft would be Jimmie Ward or Deone Buchanan. Both would be a huge upgrade right now over Jefferson at Strong Safety. If the team waits a round and decides to select a safety in the third round, they could land a guy like Craig Loston from LSU or Ahmad Dixon from Baylor. If the Cardinals can land one of those four players, their defense could finish in the top 5 in 2014.