With nothing much going on, and analysis of each Cardinal player occurring in detail, I though I would make some meaningless predictions. Here are my June predictions for what the team will look like in September and beyond. I took a stab at all 53 players, depth chart, and potential practice squad members as well. I listed some notable releases first if you don't want to see all of my predictions. I am sure I will change my mind several times before September. Most are obvious but I did take some chances at a few positions. When you are bored take a look and tell me where my thinking is flawed.
Morey: The special teams squad looks to be solid this year and Morey's ability will not be as essential. Plus Long also has special-team assets as well. Odd, last time Morey made the pro-bowl he was cut the following year.
Pope: He may make the team for four games if the Cards want to start with 4 TE or Spach is PUP. Not enough production and too many injuries.
Patrick: He is good enough to be in the league but Byrd will impress and Patrick's suspension will allow the other three to show they should be part of the final 53. In the end Patrick will be the odd man out. His age and ability make it hard to cut him, however. Cards will think hard about 4 TE.
Branch: In a year where he has been clearly told he needs to step it up, he hasn't. I know they haven't put pads on but I expected an extra effort during the off season. I wanted to hear how he was in the weight room, and coming in on target for his weight, and how he was at the facility when he didn't have to be. Instead I am starting to get the impression it is the same old thing. Branch seems to say the right words but nothing seems to change. He has talent but just seems to be a chronic underachiever even when he knows his job is on the line. I say cut him now, save the $500,000 (or whatever it is) in cap space and have that spot taken by Dykes or Leisle, who want a job and are working their tails off to get it. Why give Branch another year when you see no signs of change. Insanity, after all, is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. At least give Dykes and Leisle a chance on the final 53. They can't contribute less than Branch. I hope I turn out wrong about Branch and I will probably change this prediction but right now I see no reason to keep him another year.
Francisco: This is the player I hate to release the most. I hope he finds another team because he is a solid special teamer and serviceable backup. I think there is a good argument to be made that the Cards should keep 5 safetys. According to my logic they will either keep 5 ILB or 5safetys. It came down to two out of Fancisco, Lewis, and Togafau and I decided to keep Togafauand Lewis, but it will be a close call. Any given play in pre-season may cause me to change my mind.
Castille: Never really materialized and was not a great special teamer. With Byrd's ability to block out of the backfield from the H-Back and the diminished role of the fullback in the offense, Castille will be looking for another team.
Adams: I don't know if he is a "notable" release but he did get time in the second half of the year. But there simply is no space for an undersized corner who doesn't fit our scheme and is only good for special teams. We bid a fond goodbye to Mighty Mike.
The final 53 break down looks like this:
Gandy is the clear starter. We will see if he comes back after this year.
R. Wells may get a pro bowl nod this year. Will also be short term the back up center.
Sendlein. A healed shoulder and some time with Lott and Grimm will help him have more power
Lutui Will have a good year which will make some off season decisions interesting in 2010.
L. Brown. He is a solid starter even if he won't make the pro bowl.
Vallejo will provide depth at tackle. This year may determine if he has a future as a starter
Keith: Will show he is ready to be a starter.
E. Brown I think this may be the last year for E. Brown.
H. Johnson: Leinart's play-action offenses under will not be adversely affected if Johnson is Guard.
Fitzgerald: Another Pro Bowl Year
Boldin: Will miss 3-4 games. More balanced offense will lower yards. Look for trade in 2010
Breaston: Contract extension as the season ends which will further sour the Boldin situation.
Urban: Will play all 4 receiver positions and has good speed, good length, good on special teams.
Doucet: If he wants to see time on the field when Boldin is healthy he will have to do better on ST.
Long: That's right. Lance Long. This will be his year.
Becht: Cards don't need receivers. They need blockers and that fits Becht.
Spach: If he is healthy then he will get serious minutes. If PUP then Pope will get another shot
Byrd: His athleticism and ability to block out of the backfield will earn him a spot. Patrick a close 4th.
Hightower: He will maintain solid minutes through out and will have a good year.
B. Wells: He and Hightower will share equal minutes. Solid year but not an Adrian-Peterson year.
Wright: He will start off with some minutes but those minutes will diminish over time.
Kreider: The Cards will use more single back sets and so Kreider will not be a solid diet.
Warner: No brainer, although he will likely miss a game or two due to injury.
Leinart: We will get a few more snaps during the regular season.
St Pierre: He will have a different home next year. I considered cutting him this year and using Palko as the emergency QB off the practice squad but decided that Whiz and the gang would not want to try another season again with only 2 QBs on the final 53.
ASSUMING 3-4 BASE DEFENSE. Not sure they will have personnel to have a true 3-4
Dockett: Will have a solid year but will be snubbed by the Pro-Bowl.
Campbell: Not much of a challenge here. He will have an average year.
Iwebema: Will take a few games before Iwebema returns to form.
Dykes:At 6'3" 305 he provides a larger look on the DL. He will have a good camp and will make the team.
NOSE TACKLE: (look for the Cards to seek depth at this position next off-season)
Watson: Knee will be fine. He will show signs of being the NT the 3-4 needs.
Robinson: Robinson is not a 3-4 NT. Robinson's versatility will get him on the field a lot.
Leisle: At 6'3" and 315 this DL will provide flexibility at both DE and NT. Brings a jumbo Option.
Haggans: He'll have a solid year but will miss a couple of games with some pulled muscles.
Okeafor: Will make impact in the pass-rush. Solid year and Cards will try to resign at end of year.
Berry: He'll be brought in on passing downs and will finish the year with 4.5 sacks. Leading the team.
W. Davis: Will have some outstanding games on special teams and his stock will rise
C. Brown: He will be a solid addition to special teams.
Dansby: July 15th will pass and no new contract. Great play in a contract year.
Hayes: Solid again.
Hobson: He will have a resurgent year. Will get his swagger back from Jets days and have an impact.
Highsmith: His knee will be fine and he will be a solid special Teams. Will impress on D despite his size.
Togafau: The upside of 1 FB is 5 ILB. Togafau will be a great ST addition.
DRC: He will get Pro-Bowl consideration but will have games when he doesn't shine
McFadden: Solid year. Will show his physical play early.
Toler: Will have a great year on ST as a gunner. Will move into #3 mid season.
R. Brown: Will likely end up #4 on the depth chart by the end of the year.
Wilson: Another pro-bowl year although he will miss 4 games due to injuries.
Rolle: Not consistent but big plays. I would expect this to be the last year if contract not reworked.
R. Johnson: He will excel on ST as a gunner. Will play safety in nickel situations . Starter in waiting.
Lewis. Both Lewis and Francisco are solid but Lewis comes cheaper.
PRACTICE SQUAD POTENTIAL: I know I have more than 8 listed. I have listed those who I thought were potential as well as positions I think they might look at off the wire.
Canfield: He could be a guard/center of the future but not yet.
LSH: Could make the team if he shines as a returner. Needs to be able to pick up the blitz.
Keyes: If Rolle goes down this year, or is released next year, I could Keyes getting his chance.
Garvin: You can't teach his kind of speed, (although I could do without the self-body worship).
Green: Solid Fullback. If Cards wanted to develop a future FB he could be a good candidate.
Palko: The Cards will need a QB on the practice squad and they seem determined to give Palko a try.
Medders: He has potential at 6'5" 315. His injury last year was a tough break (excuse the pun)
DL: J. Banks Possibility with Dykes gone. The Cards will be looking close at the wire for DL..
ILB: Solid camp could get Walker on PS. Cards will be looking for an ILB on the wire.
Corner: Cards might look to a corner. Fontenot may get another try but I doubt it.