Perhaps the most consequential storyline arising from the Arizona Cardinals' 2010 eventful offseason was the changes made at the defensive tackle position. The team went from being very thin to very stacked in little time. Defensive tackle has never been a strong point for the Cardinals' defense in the past, and most might consider it an area that was exposed last season. After the first six weeks, teams were able to run at will against the Cardinals. With a base 3-4 defense, the Cardinals could no longer afford to lack consistency at the most important position - the nose tackle.
Starter: Bryan Robinson
- Obviously, most Cardinals' fans aren't ecstatic about the likeliness that seasoned defensive tackle Bryan Robinson will start in the trenches next season. The truth is that Robinson is the best suited man to do so. He's been the starter the last two seasons and is the most familiar with the defense. Although he's aged and not the ideal size for the 3-4, he gives the team the best option to start the season, something that head coach Ken Whisenhunt prefers. He's also the primary mentor for rookie Dan Williams, who will likely uproot Robinson at one point in the season. Once Robinson surrenders his starting job, he'll maintain substantial depth at the position for the remainder of the season.
Primary Back Up: Dan Williams
- Williams was projected as the third best defensive tackle leading up to the draft and was considered the only true nose tackle to land in the first round. When Williams somehow slipped to the 26th pick, the Cardinals lifted their jaws off the ground and made their selection with little to no hesitation. Williams has his work cut out for him; he'll need to learn the defense quickly and become familiar with the personnel around him. Luckily, he's able to learn behind a veteran tackle and soak up as much knowledge as he can in the short months leading up to the season. He won't start, but will be rotated into the line-up. If the coaching staff likes what they see, Williams will be the starting nose tackle midway through the season.
On The Bubble: Gabe Watson
- My gut tells me that Watson isn't in any danger of being cut, but the fact of the matter is that he doesn't fit into the equation at this point in the offseason. Williams isn't going anywhere and the Cardinals wouldn't have re-signed Robinson if they thought he couldn't contribute. Watson has suffered ongoing problems with a kneecap he injured two offseasons ago when he fell off a treadmill. He went through a second surgery this offseason, but claims that the knee is finally healed. The importance of Watson to break out this season is off the wall. Since Robinson will likely retire or find work elsewhere after 2010, a healthy combination of Williams and Watson will keep the Cardinals set at tackle for some time.
Out Of The Mix: Keilen Dykes & Dean Muhtadi
- If there was one player that the fans were pulling for to make the roster, it's Dean Muhtadi. Darren Urban did a good job introducing Muhtadi to the fans, bringing them up to date on his history and workout habits. Unfortunately, he'll likely be assigned to the practice squad where he can still attempt to work his way onto the roster. Dykes is just another camp body at this point, with little chance to make the cut.
The nose tackle position will surely be under the microscope this season, as most are anticipating the debut of Dan Williams. Will he be the answer the team has been looking for? Let's just remember that he is a rookie and there will be growing pains at points throughout the season. That's not to say that there won't be excitement when he takes the field for the first time however. The matter of if and when he takes the starting job will also be a event to watch out for. When do you believe Williams will become the starter and does he have the talent alone to earn the job in training camp?