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Arizona Cardinals May Draft a Safety in the First Round of NFL Draft

April 9th, 2014 at 4:55 AM
By Steve Smith

'University of Phoenix Stadium, Home of the Arizona Cardinals (3)' photo (c) 2009, Ken Lund - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
The Arizona Cardinals have one of the best defenses in the NFL. They could use some help at safety though and may concentrate on drafting one in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Arizona's safety corps is in flux until Tyrann Mathieu returns from his ACL and LCL injuries and until a strong safety is signed. Last season with Yeremiah Bell, currently a free agent, on the field, Mathieu became the starter in Week 4 after Rashad Johnson lost the tip of his left middle finger.

Mathieu played well enough to supplant Johnson until Mathieu got hurt in Week 13. Johnson will be the presumed starter at free safety while Tony Jefferson would fill in at strong safety. Both are 5-11, not the best size for a tandem of safeties.

During the 2013 season, it was often Bell's responsibility to defend opponents' tight ends. That didn't work in the Cardinals' favor because of a combination of Bell's declining speed at age 35 and lack of size. Of the 29 touchdowns thrown by opposing quarterbacks, 17 went to tight ends.

In a perfect world, the Cardinals would like a safety taller than 6-foot who can run with tight ends such as St. Louis' Jared Cook and San Francisco's Vernon Davis, but it's not necessary,

Two prospects the Red Birds may be looking at are Louisville's Calvin Pryor and Washington State's Deone Bucannon. They're the second- and third-ranked safeties, respectively, in this year's draft class according to ESPN.com. Pryor is listed at 5-11 1/8 while Bucannon is 6-1. 

Both players would add quality depth to a defensive unit that is on the rise in the NFL.

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Tags: Arizona, Arizona Cardinals, Football, NFL, Rashad Johnson, Tyrann Mathieu, Yeremiah Bell

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