TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -For only the second time since 1995, the Arizona Cardinals enter draft weekend without a top 10 pick.
That's a sign that the Cardinals, who have had one winning season since moving to the desert in 1988, are moving in the right direction. Arizona earned the No. 16 overall pick with an 8-8 record.
From a draft standpoint, mediocrity has its pluses and minuses.
On the minus side, the Cardinals are unlikely to make a splash at No. 16, as they did with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald as the third overall pick in 2004 and quarterback Matt Leinart as the No. 10 overall choice in 2006.
On the plus side, the Cardinals won't expect their top pick to earn a starting job right away.
``We don't have to have this player come in and start, much as you would expect a top five pick to do,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
At No. 16, the Cardinals believe they'll be able to address a need such as running back or cornerback. They also hope to have little trouble signing a mid-first-round selection, thereby avoiding what seems to be an annual training camp holdout by their top pick.
``There's obviously less certainty about the players that may be there at that particular point,'' general manager Rod Graves said. ``So we've got to be prepared for a greater number of options as we proceed through the draft.
``But I do like the fact that in that area there's probably less of a risk of being in contentious negotiations after the draft,'' Graves said. ``So I'm looking forward to that aspect of it.''
Depending on how things shake out ahead of them, the Cardinals are expected to give strong consideration to drafting a cornerback in the first round, with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie of Tennessee State and Aqib Talib of Kansas among the candidates.
Cornerbacks Eric Green and Rod Hood played capably last season, but the club is looking to upgrade that critical position. Antrel Rolle, whom they drafted eighth overall in 2005, started the last five games after Green went on injured reserve with a groin injury.
``I don't know that corner is a dire need for us,'' Graves said. ``We'd like to add to the depth in that group, and if we're in a position that we can draft a talented player that can push either one of those players, then I think we're better off as a result of it. But will I be disappointed if we don't take a corner early? Of course not.''
The Cardinals also are believed to be in the market for a running back. Edgerrin James rushed for 1,222 yards last season, the fifth-highest total in team history. But James, who has two years remaining on his contract, will turn 30 on Aug. 1, and with 11,607 career rushing yards, he's probably on the downside of a standout career.
The Cardinals have drafted one running back in the past five years - California's J.J. Arrington, a second-round selection in 2005. Arrington is listed as third on the depth chart, behind James and Marcel Shipp.
A year ago, the Cardinals had a shot at Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson with the No. 5 overall pick. They passed on him and selected 6-foot-5, 322-pound offensive tackle Levi Brown out of Penn State. Peterson went to Minnesota at No. 7 and was named The Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
This spring, the Cardinals could be looking at Oregon's Jonathan Stewart or Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois.
``When you look at our situation, we have to be concerned about the future of our football team at that position,'' Graves said. ``And if there's a back there that warrants that selection, I think we'll certainly consider it. But just like the cornerback position, I don't think it's as critical for us.''
The Cardinals say they'll entertain trade offers but are expected to stand pat in the middle of the pack. It's unfamiliar territory for this team - but they hope to get used to it.
``I think where we are this year is a good position from the standpoint of, we don't have a specific need,'' Whisenhunt said. ``So it makes it easier to draft when you don't have to fill a position, have a need where now you're nervous waiting for your pick to come because you don't know what's going to be there. We have a lot of options when our pick comes, and that's a lot more settling going into this.''

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