Where the Cardinals can improve in the draft, free agency

If the Cardinals get the No. 1 overall pick, Ohio State's Nick Bosa could be a no-brainer selection. AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Last weekend's win didn't do the Arizona Cardinals any favors.

If the Cardinals had lost Sunday's game to the equally bad San Francisco 49ers, they would've had a 71 percent chance to get the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL draft, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Since they won, their chances of securing the top pick dropped to a 23.6 percent.

And those odds may decrease even more throughout the second half of the season if the offense, under interim coordinator Byron Leftwich, finds the type of success it saw in the fourth quarter against the Niners.

This much is certain: At 2-6, the Cardinals have a 0.0 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to the ESPN NFL Football Power Index. The focus for Arizona's second half will be on helping rookie quarterback Josh Rosen improve and keeping him from getting hurt.

Other than that, the Cardinals are already on to 2019.

They'll likely be drafting, for now, at least, in the top five. The FPI is giving the Cardinals an 87.6 percent chance of that with a 99.3 percent chance of drafting in the top 10. And for the first time in recent memory, the Cardinals won't be looking for their quarterback of the future. That means their pick, wherever it may be, could be used to address needs at wide receiver, offensive line or defensive line. They could also trade the pick for a king's ransom.

Here are three players that Cardinals could target in the top five:

  • Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State: If the Cardinals have the No. 1 pick, this might be their easiest draft decision in years.

  • Ed Oliver, DT, Houston: There's a need to firm the interior of the defensive line with talented pass-rushers on either side and Oliver could be the long-term answer.

  • N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State: Should the Cardinals drop to the bottom of the top five or lower, Harry could be their solution to replacing Larry Fitzgerald whenever he decides to retire.

The draft isn't the only place where the Cardinals can make an impact this offseason. With an estimated $47.5 million in cap space in 2019, according to Spotrac.com, the Cardinals may end up making their most notable splashes in free agency.

As of now, they're scheduled to have 15 unrestricted free agents, including receiver Larry Fitzgerald, receiver J.J. Nelson, left guard Mike Iupati, defensive end Markus Golden, linebacker Deone Bucannon, defensive tackle Rodney Gunter, safety Tre Boston and cornerback Bene Benwikere.

There will be plenty of options for them in free agency -- and they'll have the financial flexibility to make deals work with the right players. Long-term, their money situation is just as bright. In 2020, the Cardinals' cap space is expected to increase to $91.6 million, according to Spotrac.com.

Here are three players that Cardinals could target in free agency:

  • Golden Tate, WR: He's a versatile receiver who can produce across the field and could handle the spotlight of being a WR1.

  • Morris Claiborne, CB: He'll be 29 so not worth a mega deal but he's still producing at a high level and would be an ideal complement across from Patrick Peterson -- if Peterson is still in Arizona in 2019.

  • Sheldon Richardson, DT: He'd fill a need to bolster the interior of the Cardinals' defensive line and can do so without breaking the bank.