As we continue to run through the Arizona Cardinals roster and project who will start and who will make the final cuts, we inch closer and closer to the start of training camp, as well. We've looked over the offense and most of the defense and only have the secondary left on the list. The defense surrendered 90 points in the playoffs last season and much of that stood on the shoulders of the defensive backs. Antrel Rolle is out and Kerry Rhodes is in. The team also dealt former starter Bryant McFadden during the draft. In 2010, we could witness one of the top secondaries in the league if Rhodes pans out at safety and a corner steps up to play alongside DRC. That remains to be a giant question mark, however.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - DRC has become a fan favorite and the starter at cornerback in just two seasons in the league. His speed goes hand-in-hand with his footwork, coverage skills, and hands to make him the top corner in the Cardinals secondary and a soon to be top-five cornerback in the NFL. He is recovering from a knee injury that he suffered in the playoff loss to the Saints and we don't know if he's fully healed.
Greg Toler - Well, the cat's out of the bag - I'm favoring Toler to start opposite Rodgers-Cromartie in 2010. Toler drew much interest when the Cardinals drafted him last year and he has similar potential to what we saw from DRC when he was drafted. He has the physical build, size, and speed to make a name for himself in the league, and defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson will need to build off of his talent to prepare Toler for the pressure that he'll face as a starter. If he can, the Cardinals will showcase one of the best cornerback tandems in 2010. He's still young, however, and hasn't started a game in his career. He'll be an immense unknown.
Michael Adams - Adam's leadership and heart play a large role in playing for the Cardinals. He's experienced and possesses a no-quit mentality. Adams can also contribute on special teams. His biggest weakness is that he struggles covering just about any receiver that is taller than him in jump-ball situations.
Trumaine McBride - The former Bears' starter has a slim margin to start for the Cardinals this year, but ultimately will fall short into a back-up role. We aren't completely familiar with McBride. He played in 32 games his first two seasons in the league, but only played in one game last season after he was released from the Bears with a knee injury. McBride is only 24 and has upside, but he faces the unfortunate task of not having seniority in the Cardinals locker room.
Jorrick Calvin - Sixth-round pick Jorrick Calvin shouldn't have a problem making the Cardinals 53-man roster considering they need the depth and he was just inked to a four-year deal last week. Nothing is certain, however, and Ken Whisenhunt is a man that expects his rookies to step up rather than hand over playing time. Calvin is a speedy corner that has the return skills to pad his chances at making the team.
On The Bubble
Justin Miller - Miller was given a chance to tryout during the Cardinals OTAs and was awarded with a contract. The former Pro Bowl corner is still young and can contribute on special teams, as well. Injuries have hindered his chances at a return to stardom the last two seasons, however.
A.J. Jefferson - I listed Jefferson as a potential draft pick before he became a member of the Cardinals and I was ecstatic when he became available as an undrafted free agent. Jefferson was listed as a possible 3rd round pick because of his natural athleticism and return skills. He does need to work on his ball skills and footwork if he wants to find a place on this team.
Out Of The Mix
Marshay Green & Rashad Barksdale - Although depth is heavily needed, the Cardinals won't have any room for either of these players when the final cuts are made. Barksdale has floated around camp for a while now, but doesn't have any particular skill set that isn't already offered from another player. Green is intriguing and may find a spot on the Cardinals practice squad. Both players will be looked at thoroughly during camp and preseason, but only stand a puncher's chance at making the team.
Cornerback is obviously a glaring weakness on the Cardinals roster and is a position that other teams will target should that weakness continue in 2010. It's amazing that the Cardinals can feature such an extreme difference between starters: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is the shutdown corner, while the man that fills McFadden's shoes will have little to no experience starting. Do you believe Toler will start? And if he falters, will the Cardinals be in trouble?