As it currently stands, the Arizona Cardinals will have seven selections in the 2013 NFL Draft, one of which is the seventh overall pick.
They might use that pick a quarterback. Or an offensive lineman. Or a linebacker. Or a defensive back.
Whoever the Cardinals decide to pick, they will not be making the choice out of need.
“In this period of free agency you build your team as good as you can make it and then you go to the draft,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said at the annual NFL owners meetings. “In the draft, you do not draft need — you draft the best players available.”
Arians said it’s understandable to start filling needs late in the draft, but early on the best course of action is just to find good, quality football players.
“In those first few picks, if you’re drafting for need you’re going to bust,” he said. “You’re forcing yourself to come off your board.”
Now, who is where on the Cardinals’ board is not known, and most coaches agree need, to an extend, does factor into their rankings.
After all, the best player on the board may be a wide receiver, but with Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd already on the roster, chances are the Cardinals will not take one with their first pick.
Where the Cardinals do need help, though, is at quarterback. Arians said just because people feel like the team should draft a passer does not mean they will, but that does not mean they won’t, either.
“If we feel like there is a quarterback at seven that is within that range on the board, or higher, then we’ll take a quarterback,” he said.
Likewise, Arians would not rule out the team selecting a guard, so long as he’s a difference-maker, but the fact that the coach believes there is great depth in this year’s class of linemen may lead the team to go a different direction early.
“I think it’s one of the best, one of the best I’ve seen in a while in a draft at all positions,” he said. “In the past it’s like ‘Ooh, once you get past these four guys, really, what’s there?’
“I think this year it could, once you get past these 12 guys what will be there? Guards, centers, everything that is in this draft I think that you’re looking for, and even at the right price.”
So really, what it comes down to, is Arians knows the Cardinals could use some help but is not ready to pigeon-hole the team into a position. With more than a month to go before draft night, it makes sense to leave all options on the table.
And that’s a possibility, Arians said, because the Cardinals have the luxury of having quality depth already on the roster.
“Especially after the free agency period,” he said. “We can go into this draft and key really good football players, and whoever’s there, take him, regardless of position.”