As of yesterday, the 2011 NFL Draft got going, and came as a breath of fresh air to many fans, seeing as the news has been covered solely by updates on the lockout. The draft has always been a time of much excitement for football fans ever since it was first introduced on February 8th, 1936. Teams who are usually ignored during the regular season, such as the Panthers, Bills, and Browns, get to steal the spotlight for a short while during this April classic. They find new hope, and are sure that their picks will bring them to the top in the next season. This was much the case for the Arizona Cardinals on Monday, when they selected Patrick Peterson, cornerback out of LSU, with the 5th overall pick.
Much hype has surrounded this explosive defensive player, who can also change games with his extraordinary return skills. As it goes, most teams try to select the best players available during the first round, but when it gets to rounds 2-7, they begin to address individual issues that apply to their teams. Right now,the Cardinals' biggest needs are considered to be quarterback and pass rusher. As far as quarterbacks, the possibilities going into the second round for the Cardinals were Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, and Ryan Mallet.
Both Dalton and Kaepernick were nabbed by the Bengals and 49ers, respectively, before the Cardinals could consider them. As it went, the last choice left for Arizona was to pick Mallet, who has seen his draft stock fall due to alleged drug use and poor performance in his interviews. Pass rushers that were available included Brooks Reed and Da'Quan Bowers, who has also plummeted in projections because of an injury. Ideally, the Cardinals would have selected either Mallet, Reed, Bowers, or other available pass rushers. This is why it came as a surprise when they selected Ryan Williams, RB out of Virginia Tech.
This 5'9", 212 pound back was a beast in the backfield for Tech, showing not only exceptional running ability, but also good hands, catching a countless number of passes from Tyrod Taylor. Although Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower have done well in the past for Arizona, it doesn't look like either of them will be the next Adrian Peterson. Wells has battled injuries that could have degraded some of his abilities, and Hightower has been tagged as inconsistent.
The fact that AZ has drafted two running backs in the last 3 years shows that we are looking for change in the position. After all, with the quarterback issue,maybe the team should look to attack their opponents on the ground. In the 2010-2011 season, they chose to pass the ball much more than run it, and it looks like without a better quarterback, the Cards won't find much success in using this strategy. Obviously, AZ needs to address the quarterback issue, but if they could establish the run, and develop their pass rushing abilities, maybe, just maybe, they could pull something off in the 2011-2012 season.