Offseason review: Arizona Cardinals
OLB, QB, CB, C, G, ORT, DE, ILB, P
Round 1: Patrick Peterson, CB
Round 2: Ryan Williams, RB
Round 3: Rob Housler, TE
Round 4: Sam Acho, OLB
Round 5: Anthony Sherman, FB
Round 6: Quan Sturdivant, LB
Round 6: David Carter, DT
Round 7: DeMarco Sampson, WR
Potential free agents of note
Tim Hightower, RB
Early Doucet, WR
Steve Breaston, WR
Stephen Spach, TE
Ben Patrick, TE
Brandon Keith, ORT
Lyle Sendlein, C
Deuce Lutui, G
Alan Branch, DT
Michael Adams, CB
QB (veteran), G, OLB (depth), CB (depth), WR (depth), C, ORT, DE (depth), P
The Cardinals, coming off a disappointing 5-11 record, had a bunch of needs coming into this year’s NFL draft.
They were able to address one of the three biggest needs with the selection of cornerback Patrick Peterson with their first-round pick. Peterson was arguably the best defensive player available in this draft, so they got a nice value with the fifth overall pick. But even with his addition, the Cardinals still need to add at least once veteran cornerback to the roster for depth and insurance purposes.
While the decision of second-round pick Ryan Williams seemed to come to a surprise to many, the Cardinals simply want to run the ball better. Tim Hightower led the team in rushing last season with just 736 yards. Chris “Beanie” Wells, a 2009 first-round pick, has flashed some talent in his short career, but hasn't displayed enough consistency for the team to believe he’s the answer at running back. Williams, if he gets off to a good start in training camp and performs well in preseason, will compete for the starting job early on. Williams projects, according to personnel sources, to be a feature back at the NFL level.
For the first time during head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s tenure, the Cardinals might actually be making a strong effort to feature the tight end position in the offensive game plan. The reason could reside with the pick of third-round pick Rob Housler -- one of most athletic tight ends available for this draft. While he needs to get stronger physically, he’ll give the Cardinals the passing target they’ve been looking for at tight end since Whisenhunt took over the helm in 2007.
Despite lackluster results from the quarterback position last season, the Cards decided against selecting one in April’s draft. Instead, the team is expected to make a strong play to acquire Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb once the lockout concludes. John Skelton, while raw but talented, remains an intriguing prospect. Skleton clearly was not ready to play when the team started him for the last four games last season. Whisenhunt clearly does not want to wait until Skelton’s truly ready to play.
Although the offensive line produced less than average results, the Cardinals did not take a lineman in this draft. Four out of the five starters are unsigned and of those four, left guard Alan Faneca, recently announced his retirement. Expect the team to re-sign some of the unsigned players. They will also strongly consider signing a few veteran offensive linemen in free agency.
Fourth-round pick Sam Acho will transition from playing mostly defensive end at the University of Texas to outside linebacker in the Cardinals’ 3-4 defensive scheme. Acho will get a chance to play as a rookie due to the lack of depth and quality pass rushers remaining on the roster.
Veteran outside linebacker Joey Porter, who is scheduled to earn $5.75 million in base salary for the 2011 season, could be on his way out once the new league year starts. While a million of the salary is guaranteed, a source told FOXSports.com that it’s guaranteed only for injury.