2018 NFL Draft: Arizona Cardinals team needs, draft picks, prospects to watch

The Cardinals headed into 2017 looking to compete for a Super Bowl with their veteran core, but when star running back David Johnson went down in Week 1, the writing was on the wall. Future injuries to other key players, including quarterback Carson Palmer, ensured that this would be a disappointing year in Arizona. Can they extend their championship window for another season, or is it time to rebuild? Let's dive into it.

2018 draft picks

  • Round 1: Arizona
  • Round 2: Arizona
  • Round 3: Arizona
  • Round 4: None
  • Round 5: Arizona
  • Round 6: Arizona*
  • Round 7: Arizona*, Baltimore*

The Cardinals own their top three picks, but they surrendered their 2018 fourth-rounder as part of the package to move up in the second round in 2017 and take Budda Baker. The Cardinals may lose their sixth-round pick in this draft, as it was conditionally part of the Adrian Peterson trade with New Orleans. They also conditionally traded their seventh-rounder to the Chiefs for Marcus Cooper, but they could get Baltimore's seventh-rounder as part of the conditional trade for Tony Bergstrom before the season.

Biggest offseason needs

  • Quarterback
  • Wide receiver
  • Offensive tackle
  • Outside linebacker
  • Cornerback

Whether Palmer returns or not, the Cardinals need to develop a firm plan for the quarterback position this offseason. If they truly believe Blaine Gabbert is the answer, get him signed to an undermarket deal and roll the dice. If not, scout the 2018 QB class thoroughly and be ready to draft your next franchise QB in the early rounds. The Cardinals need to bring in talent at receiver regardless of whether Larry Fitzgerald retires or not. The entire offensive line could use an upgrade, but guard figures to be a less pressing issue once Mike Iupati is healthy. Left tackle definitely needs some attention.

The defense shapes up pretty well, but finding a bookend pass-rusher to pair with Chandler Jones could take them to a new level. Likewise, the team has an outstanding core in the secondary but will need to find some help at cornerback with Tramon Williams a free agent.

Prospects to watch

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming 

Allen isn't ready to be a successful NFL quarterback as a rookie, but if the Cardinals sign a bridge signal-caller in free agency (or acquire one via trade), he'd be the ideal understudy. Blessed with excellent physical talent -- his arm is Matt Stafford-like -- Allen needs time to fine-tune much of his game at the professional level. 

Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State

If the Cardinals want a Larry Fitzgerald type of wideout for their future, they should seriously consider Ateman. While he's obviously not the prospect Fitzgerald was, at 6-foot-4 with reliable ball-skills, he has serious jump-ball potential.

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma 

Okoronkwo is the bendiest edge-rusher in the 2018 class. And because of his lack of ideal height and weight, he'd be a wonderful fit in a 3-4 defense. The experienced Oklahoma star is comfortable dropping into coverage and dealing with wide receiver screens as well.

D.J. Reed, CB, Kansas State

Reed is a smaller cornerback with plenty of experience on the outside, and what he lacks in long speed, he makes up for with keen route-recognition and ball skills. He had 16 pass breakups in 2016 and knocked away nine passes in 2017 to go along with four interceptions.

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