Ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft April 28-30 in Nevada, the Arizona Cardinals will attempt to meet much of their needs through free agency and potentially, a trade or two. The free agent signing period begins in earnest on March 16, which marks the start of the league’s new year.

Whatever holes they hope to fill on the roster or positions the Cardinals would like to strengthen, they could look very different by the draft. Knowing what we know right now, however, there are some obvious areas the team will focus on when it arrives in Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine.

With 21 players set to become unrestricted free agents, including Chandler Jones, James Conner, Chase Edmonds, Christian Kirk, AJ Green, Zach Ertz and Maxx Williams, it’s no secret that Arizona will be in the market. to get help at outside linebacker, running back, wide receiver and tight end. The Cardinals will also target cornerback, interior offensive line and safety assist.

The Cardinals have five of their seven initial selections in the 2022 Draft — one in the first round (#23 overall), one in the second (#55) and third (#87), none in the fourth or fifth, one in the sixth (#200) and one in the seventh (#242).

They traded their fourth-round pick as part of the package to move up and draft cornerback Marco Wilson last year and they dealt their fifth-round pick to the Eagles last season in the trade of tight end Zach. Ertz.

However, Arizona is expected to receive three compensatory picks this year, including a sixth-round pick for losing free running back Kenyan Drake to the Raiders, as well as a pair of seventh-round picks as compensation for losing the tight end Dan Arnold and defensive lineman Angelo Blackson.

Considering compensatory picks can be traded, an allowance the league made in 2017, don’t be surprised if GM Steve Keim negotiates a draft-day trade that includes a set of later-round picks for a chance to return. in the third and/or fourth round to catch a higher rated prospect on their scorecard.

Potential prospects the Cardinals could consider as they are with the 23rd overall pick include wide receivers Chris Olave (Ohio State), Treylon Burks (Arkansas), Jameson Williams (Alabama) and George Pickens (Georgia) ; and rushers Travon Walker (Georgia), George Karlaftis (Purdue), Jermaine Johnson II (Florida State) and David Ojabo (Michigan). Other first-round options include cornerbacks Andrew Booth Jr. (Clemson), Kaiir Elam (Florida) and Trent McDuffie (Washington), interior offensive linemen Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa), Ikem Ekwonu (Carolina State North) and Kenyon Green (Texas A&M).

Michigan running back Blake Corum is tackled by Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker during the first half of the Orange Bowl NCAA College Football Playoff Semifinals, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, at Miami Gardens, in Florida (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Possible second- and third-round targets are running backs Isaiah Spiller (Texas A&M), Breece Hall (Iowa State) and Kenneth Walker III (Michigan State); tight ends Trey McBride (Colorado State), Jalen Wydermyer (Texas A&M) and Jeremy Ruckert (Ohio State); peak rushers Drake Jackson (USC), Cameron Thomas (San Diego State) and Boye Mafe (Minnesota) and receivers David Bell (Purdue), Justyn Ross (Clemson), Christian Watson (North Dakota State) and Jalen Tolbert (South Alabama).

Security is another possibility. Michigan’s Daxton Hill likely won’t be available at the No. 55 pick, but Lewis Cine (Georgia) and Smoke Monday (Auburn) are options. Additional cornerbacks could include Kyler Gordon (Washington), Martin Emerson (Mississippi State) and Derion Kendrick (Georgia).

Do you have an opinion on the Arizona Cardinals? Contact McManaman at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac. Listen to him live on Fox Sports 910-AM every Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. on Calling All Sports with Roc and Manuch.

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