Arizona Cardinals officials are feeling good about the depth of this year's NFL draft, and their chances of grabbing an elite player with the seventh overall pick.
Cardinals' GM Steve Keim said the team made sure to address all of their needs this offseason through free agency, so they'll be able to draft the best player available regardless of position.
"I think there's always positions you like to get but I wouldn't say you need to. I think that's what free agency is for," Keim said. "We talked about our philosophy and that's shopping for your groceries in free agency and grabbing the best players in the draft. I think we positioned ourselves pretty well over the past few months where we can be selective on what positions we need to go for in the draft and the decisions we need to make. We feel pretty confident that the way our board is going to be set that in our minds the best player available is going to be the one taken."
The Cardinals have been linked to Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson and Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher via mock draft. On the flip side, Arizona is reportedly interested in LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo and Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan.
Keim said he's encouraged by the options available on both sides of the ball.
"We've both been pleasantly surprised with the linemen," Keim said. "There's a significant amount of safeties and corners that we feel are going to be pretty solid players. I think it's like anything else, evaluate the evaluator. Sometimes people get excited about a certain skill set and a certain type of player.
"We feel pretty good about this draft. We think that at every pick whether it's one through seven, we're going to get a guy that can come in and help us and contribute."
Cardinals' head coach Bruce Arians echoed his GM's sentiments about the depth of this year's crop of talent. He also said emphatically how critical it is to find offensive linemen, which may shed some more light on the Cardinals' potential philosophy come draft day.
"As the defensive pass rushers have gotten so much more athletic, the priority to have somebody to block them has finally got to where it belongs, and some teams still don't value ‘hey we can get offensive linemen,'" Arians said. "Good luck."
Arians said there has also been a shift in the draft in recent years that supports his belief that taking offensive or defensive linemen are just as important, if not more important, than selecting the prototypical eye-popping talent.
"There's been a big sway in value in the last eight years," Arians stated. "You never saw offensive linemen going in the top six picks. It was running backs, receivers, glory players, quarterbacks. Now there's such a value on both sides of the ball so in the last few years you are seeing a ton of offensive linemen and defensive linemen drafted in the first round because people are having success in the lower rounds getting good backs and finding wide receivers. So there's been a nice change in philosophies over the last few years and you got to stay up with that kind of thing too."