PFF: Arizona Cardinals need to target OT in 2020 NFL Draft

Nov 19, 2019, 9:48 AM
General manager Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during team OTA's at the Dignity Healt...
General manager Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during team OTA's at the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center on May 29, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The case could be made for the Arizona Cardinals to patch any one of their roster’s holes with a 2020 first-round draft pick.

Defensive line, offensive line and receiver come to mind first. Depending on where the Cardinals end up in the draft order, a case could be made for them to draft for any position on the defensive side of the ball.

But to Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner, it’s offensive tackle that needs to be the priority for Arizona.

They’ve certainly made strides from 2018, but they still have a long way to go. Both tackles (D.J. Humphries and Marcus Gilbert) are impending free agents, and they could still do better than the 50 pressures their tackle group has combined to allow so far this season.

Humphries is the most interesting case.

The Cardinals’ 2015 first-round pick has done enough so far in 2019 to prove he’s healthy after a string of injuries sabotaged his development, and his performances so far this year justify re-signing him to a reasonable deal.

Is he an elite starting left tackle? That’s yet to be proven.

Gilbert, of course, hasn’t played in 2019 after suffering a season-ending knee injury just before the regular season began.

A veteran who still holds a strong voice in the locker room, it’s possible the Cardinals could trust in his rehab and experience in the system to re-sign him as depth. But the 31-year-old’s health is a huge red-flag.

Preseason waiver-wire addition Justin Murray has been a viable starter, filling in around the knee injuries to Gilbert and Jordan Mills. But like Gilbert and Mills, Murray is also a free agent (of the exclusive rights variety) after 2019.

With only rookie seventh-round pick Josh Miles under contract beyond this year, there’s no doubt that the Cardinals want to upgrade at tackle even if they re-sign tackles. So what does the 2020 draft class have to offer?

While there’s not a deep crop of top tackle prospects, there are a few linemen that are revered as the cream of the crop.

Georgia junior Andrew Thomas is viewed as a top-15 prospect by most analysts such as ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr., or Renner from PFF.

Behind Thomas is Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood, who could help his stock even more as Alabama closes out the 2019 season without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

While ESPN’s NFL draft duo doesn’t view the offensive tackle depth the same, Renner also really likes Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, who he has as a potential top-10 pick.

The Cardinals could have some options depending on the draft order. As they enter a bye week with a 3-7-1 record, they sit at No. 9 in the drafting order.


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PFF: Arizona Cardinals need to target OT in 2020 NFL Draft