First off, in my last post I might have given it a title that was not truly accurate. I do not think the Cards are better now then they were last year. That being said I do believe that losing Warner is the only loss that will truly hinder the Cards. I think Boldin, Dansby and especially Rolle will not be missed. I truly believe that our Defense will be better this year then it has in the past Decade. I think our secondary is shallow, but the best it has been since I have been a fan. I think that our D's improvement will be in large part due to a stronger run game, which will keep them on the sidelines longer. Moving on, in this post I want to open up discussion in regards to our top needs this off season. I will rank in my opinion our top needs and invite you all to respond.
#1- Our biggest need is at OT. Gandy was a mediocre tackle at the best of times, and bridges is a solid backup, nothing more. These two looked okay due in large part to warners ability to dissect secondaries, pick up the blitz and sense pressure. If Leinart is going to be successful, which I believe he will, we need to keep him clean and improve the run game so he can use play-action more and keep opposing defenses honest. Maybe I am influenced by the fact that I just watched 'the blindside', but we cannot expect much from leinart if he is getting hit 10+ times a game. Again, I trust whiz and graves to make good draft selections and develop players, but I think we have a real opportunity to snatch Jared Gaither (6'9'', 340, age: 24) from the ravens. He is a monster, young, lots of upside and could give the Cardinals the long term solution at tackle we thought we got with Leonard Davis or Levi Brown. I think Okung and Bulaga are the only two tackles that might be comparable/ better then Gaither, and neither of them will be there for us at 26. If we are going to pay a tackle huge money, it might as well be one who has proven something at the NFL level.
#2- NT- many of you are probable surprised that a ILB/OLB is not in this spot. But I feel that a beast in the middle of the d-line would be a huge plus for the cards. I was hoping we would pursue Ma'ake keamodakwhatever in FA. anyways, Robinson is old and while he is okay, I think he could be better utilized as a mentor for a young NT and in a reduced role. This would keep him fresh, which is always a plus, especially with aging players. Watson, is decent but again hasn't lived up to his potential. Same with branch, although I am not willing to write of Branch yet. I think he has the ability to become a poor mans docket, which gets me excited. I think our D-line is a run-stuffing NT away from having great depth and versatility. If we found a beast of a NT like Terrence Cody, Dan Williams or even a Kade Weston (georgia), it would free up docket, campbell, and porter to make more plays. As well, it making life easier for our LB's allowing less O-linemen through to the second level. It would be a huge boost for our defense if we gave up less then 3 ypc as opposed to last year when we gave up 4.5 ypc (too much). that is a game changing stat. We need a big, double team commanding NT for 1-2 down to stop the inside run and give our pass rushers the freedom to get after the QB. he does not have to be a stud. He does not have to be smart, just big, strong and mean. We can use watson and robinson in situations where more cerebral activity is needed. I am just saying, what do top defenses have in common? (casey hampton, williams wall, jenkins, sedrick ellis, and look how many DT/NT's got paid this year.) is this a legit need? or do I just have steeler, viking, saints, jets envy?
#3- LB- it is no secret that this is a need. What is interesting here is that if we do in fact hang onto our first rounder, I kinda want us to use it here. with the impact that these players have been making as rookies, this is our best shot at a big time player at a big time position who can make an immediate impact (Matthews and Orakpo and even merriman are examples). But all in all, I think we will be okay. Porter is a big signing for us. I think the change of scenery will do him good and he will bring a renewed sense of pride and toughness to our defense. His expereince on great defenses will be great for the cards. We talk about winning mentalities and I think porter will bring a much needed winning mentality to our D. that being said, I think that hayes, the forgotten man in our D will emerge to take dansby's place. Look for hayes to go over 100 tackles this year. Also, Baggs ( as CFL transfer) will add some more pass rushing ability. Also, I like the lenon signing, solid player. Although we do not have great LB's, we have gotten younger at the position and will need to deal with the growing pains of that. I am not overly excited about our LB's as I think our LB grade would be about a C+ or a B- and I would be thrilled if we added a hybrid backer somewhere in the first 3 rounds of the draft.
#4 - CB- I really like McFadden so this is painful, but unless something changes, he has got to go, or at least drop on the depth chart. But because of the way we bring along rookies, which I love by the way (slowly that is, we bring 'em along slow), looks like mcfadden is our #2 for the year. I do not think Greg Toler will challenge him for that this year. I do not see us using our 1,2 or 3 rounder on a CB unless Hayden or Kyle Wilson somehow fall to us. thus, McFadden is our guy. I am hoping that he will have a good year. On that note, we need to get rid of Adams, he is about as useful as I would be out there...(which is not very useful, in case you were wondering). I like him on special teams and he is a good character guy, but should be #5 on the depth chart, at best. All in all I do not see any solutions to our lack of depth a corner. If DRC has complications with his rehab or gets re-injured, our secondary is in trouble. that being said, I like our starters back there (McFadden, Rhodes, Wilson, DRC), not bad. three pro bowlers and a conerback who played on one the best defenses ever. We need to find a couple of corners, but this is a pretty deep draft, so I trust Whiz and Graves to find a good one or two CB's late, but that does not help us this year.
#5- WR- only because we lost 2 (urban and Q). Fitz is a stud and will put up big numbers. breaston and Doucet are good enough that Fitz will not receive the same attention that Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson do. I would love to see us draft a little speedster like a Jordan Shipley (texas) or Dexter McCluster and use him like a percy harvin or reggie bush. We are not weak here, just short players.
I am leaving it at those 5. I like the Hadnot signing, but feel like we have a bunch of okay linemen. I would love to see a guy like Deuce step it up this year and blow open some big holes for the backs. I still would love to see us take a risk on Shawn Andrews. If he is healthy he could be one of the best Guards in the league and it would be nice to have someone to run behind to pick up those 3rd and 1's or 3rd and 2's. alright, I am done for now and curious to see how the rest of cards nation feels about this. again, go Cards and I think we are a few moves away from being a strong, more well-rounded team that should be able to hold off the 49ers and win the NFC west again.