CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 24: Head coach Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals shakes hands with Daryl Washington #58 prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Yesterday, I introduced to you Ryan Van Bibber's safety rankings for every team in the NFL. He put the Cardinals at number three with Kerry Rhodes and Adrian Wilson spearheading the group. Personally, I felt that could have been a bit higher due to who was in front of them, but I digress.
Today, we will go over Van Bibber's linebacker rankings. The Cardinals have definitely had their fair share of issues in this department. Playing in a 3-4 defense, the linebackers are arguably the most important piece of the defense. With the age that was in that group last season and the lack of production from the outside spots the past couple of years, the yielded the 20th best spot in the rankings.
At the top of the list, you have the obvious teams such as the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. With big names like Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs headlining for your team, you are bound to be near the top.
The Cardinals do not really have any of those big name guys. Daryl Washington is certainly making a name for himself as a starting inside linebacker. He is one of the best players on the defense and is sure to see a couple of Pro Bowls (at least) before his career is over.
Sam Acho had a great rookie season, collecting seven sacks and finally reminding fans that the Cardinals do in fact put outside linebackers on the field.
But outside of those two, there are many question marks. Paris Lenon has been a pleasant surprise since coming to the desert, but how long can he keep it up? Will O'Brien Schofield finally step up with a starting role? Does Stewart Bradley show that he was worth the big free agent deal he received? Is Clark Haggans going to be the next Joey Porter?
That is why I think the ranking of 20th is justified. The production just hasn't been there. But I would definitely add an asterisk after that 20, as I think that the linebacker corps will improve in 2012. They now know the defensive scheme and their roles within it.
What are your thoughts on these rankings? Should the Cardinals linebackers be higher? Lower? Tell us in the comments section.