The Arizona Cardinals are without question one of the best teams in the NFL and made a run to the NFC Championship game last year. They ended up losing to the Carolina Panthers, but Bruce Arians has high hopes for the 2016 season.
Carson Palmer only has a couple of seasons left before he is forced to consider retirement, which makes it imperative that the Cardinals do everything they can to build a serious contender around him.
There are not many ways that the Cardinals could improve their roster throughout the free agency period. Serious playoff contenders have to continue building their talent through the draft. That is what teams like the Green Bay Packers have perfected and is a big reason why they are continually churning out talent and retaining their own free agents.
Looking ahead at the 2016 NFL Draft, the Cardinals have many different options to choose from. They could draft a player from either side of the football, but there are a few players in particular that make the most sense.
What five players could end up being potential 2016 NFL Draft first round targets for the Arizona Cardinals?
Xavien Howard, Cornerback, Baylor Bears
Arizona could use another cornerback to help Patrick Peterson out and Xavien Howard could be the best available when they come on the clock. Last season with Baylor, Howard ended up recording 42 tackles, five interceptions and 10 defensed passes. Those numbers make him a very intriguing pick for the Cardinals and he would be an ideal fit in their defense.
William Jackson, Cornerback, Houston Cougars
William Jackson is another option at the cornerback position that the Cardinals could decide to bring on board. He is not a name that comes up often when talking about the draft, but could be an impact player at the next level. Jackson racked up 43 tackles, five interceptions, two defensive touchdowns and 23 defensed passes.
Jeremy Cash, Safety, Duke Blue Devils
Duke isn’t normally considered a football school, but they are turning out one of the top safeties in the NFL Draft class this year. Jeremy Cash could end up being a target for the Cardinals to help bring more depth to the safety position. Last season with the Blue Devils, Cash compiled 100 tackles, 2.5 sacks, four defensed passes and three forced fumbles, which showed a bit of his potential that could translate to the NFL.
Leonard Floyd, Outside Linebacker, Georgia Bulldogs
Adding another pass rusher could be something that the Cardinals decide to pursue if the opportunity presents itself in the draft. Leonard Floyd would make a lot of sense and was a key playmaker for the Bulldogs last season, recording 72 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He had 17 sacks throughout his career at Georgia and could be an option in the late first round for Arizona.
Hunter Henry, Tight End, Arizona Cardinals
One need that most agree that Cardinals should address is the tight end position, although there aren’t many tight ends who would be worth taking at No. 29. Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry could be a player that makes sense for Arizona, although it may be a bit of a reach to take him. Henry ended last season with 51 receptions for 739 yards and three touchdowns, which may intrigue a team like the Cardinals, who have a need at his position.
All of that being said, it will be very interesting to see what the Cardinals end up doing moving forward. They have plenty of options in the draft this year and have no major needs that absolutely have to be fixed. Improvement needs to be made, but finding a player that fits their system is more important.
Who do you think the Arizona Cardinals should take with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft? Do you think these five players would make sense for the Cardinals?
[AP Photo/Charlie Riedel]