Decision time is approaching for the Arizona Cardinals -- and the rest of the league alike -- as the 2013 NFL Draft is set to begin Thursday.
Before the team acquired quarterback Carson Palmer, projections had the Cards selecting a a passer such as West Virginia's Geno Smith or USC's Matt Barkley. But ever since, predictions have shifted toward drafting an offensive lineman, with tackles Eric Fisher of Central Michigan and Lane Johnson of Oklahoma becoming the most popular names associated with the seventh overall pick.
NFL.com's Bucky Brooks has laid out a first-round draft strategy for the Cardinals.
Perfect plan: New coach Bruce Arians has already proclaimed Carson Palmer the Cardinals' starting quarterback after the team landed him in a trade with the Oakland Raiders. While the move certainly addressed one of the Cardinals' biggest needs, an inability to protect the quarterback has also been a significant issue in the past. Johnson, one of the fastest risers on draft boards across the league, impressed scouts with his talent and potential at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine.
Brooks also offers an auxiliary plan in case things don't go as expected for the Cardinals.
Backup strategy: If all of the best offensive tackles are off the board at this point, the Cardinals could take the top offensive guard prospect, to solidify the interior of the line. Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper are Pro Bowl-caliber talents with the capacity to start on Day 1.