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PFF: Cardinals need to add depth at defensive line

New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) is hit by Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (90) and defensive end Calais Campbell (93) during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. The play was ruled an incomplete pass. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In the hours leading up to the NFL Draft, excitement and predictions continue to mount. ‘Tis the season for speculation.

That speculation will finally come to an end this weekend at the conclusion of the draft, but Pro Football Focus got another opinion in for the Arizona Cardinals before the Browns go on the clock on Thursday night: They need to add depth at defensive line.

With the loss of longtime defensive end Calais Campbell in the offseason, PFF writes that Arizona needs to “regenerate the talent along the defensive line.” Campbell started all 16 games for the Cardinals in 2016 and had eight sacks, 53 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception.

But now, the likes of Corey Peters, Rodney Gunter, Robert Nkemdiche and Frostee Rucker round out the more notable names on the defensive line in Arizona. In PFF’s grading of defensive linemen in 2016, only Peters scored higher than a 70 with 73.8. Gunter (50.2), Nkemdiche (45.5) and Rucker (43.7) didn’t fare as well.

Popular picks for the Cardinals in recent mock drafts include mostly quarterbacks, wide receivers, defensive backs and other positions away from the trenches. But of course, PFF’s claim that Arizona needs to bolster the defensive line doesn’t necessarily imply that they’d do so in the draft; the Cardinals could go the undrafted free agent route, and they already drafted Nkemdiche with the No. 29 pick in last year’s draft.

The world will know for sure what the Cardinals do in the draft as it begins Thursday at 5 p.m. Listen to all-day coverage of the 2017 NFL Draft on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station and ESPN 620 AM.

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