I did like some of the moves the Cardinals made this off-season and while injuries are starting to pile up, I believe they helped themselves quite a bit in the draft for the future. However, it is very evident that the Graves / Whisenhut regime really put this team in a hole personnel wise that will take a couple to three years to get out of. It is tough to say it, but the Cardinals are better off losing games this year to position themselves in for the abundance of talent that will be there in the 2014 draft.
Here is my Roster assessment: (graded 1 to 5 with 5 being rated at the top of the NFL group wise)
WR (Fitzgerald, Floyd, Roberts and Brown): 4.0
With Fitz you automatically get towards the top. His cap number really hurts this team though and as much as I like him...he is getting older. Floyd is getting better and better and if complemented with receivers like Roberts and smaller quick guys could be the go to receiver as this teams gets better going into the prime of his career. Brown is a surprise but can only get better. This makes for a very solid group.
TE: (Housler, Sprey, Dray, Jefferson): 1.5
This is a VERY weak group of TE’s. Housler has upside but haven’t seen it yet (for three years now) Sprey and Dray are below average TE’s and Jefferson is a project.
RB (Mendenhall, Williams, Taylor, Smith, Ellington): 2.5
Injury bug has always hit the first two. Smith nothing more than a journeyman RB and Taylor and Ellington could be good but not your upper echelon NFL RB’s. If this group can stay healthy it is average in NFL terms. Not sure why we kept 5 or did not let Williams go? Mystery as to what they are doing with him.
OL (Brown, Potter, Colledge, Watford, Sendlein, Gibson, Fanaika, Watford, Winston, Massie): 1.5
I know it is low but when you rate it among NFL teams it is what it is. They made improvements with adding Winston but everyone else is below average individually in comparison to their NFL peers. Brown is abysmal and should have been moved to RG with Potter to LT. Quite frankly it couldn't be worse than what they are getting at that position. Potter in his last 6 games shows quite a bit better than Brown in his first 3 this year. Brown's body of work labels him a complete bust. Cooper will be great when he comes back but this team really needs to find quality players if they want to do anything in the future. Graves/Whiz really killed this team for years by not drafting OL while their peers SF, SEA and STL were building up front.
QB (Palmer, Stanton, Lindley): 3.0
I know many would disagree out there but this is a better than average group. Palmer is an average NFL QB but Stanton is an above average back up that can come in and not have too much of a drop off. Lindley gets better and better and has the NFL arm.
OFFENSE is capable of averaging 20 points per game. Key is to stay away from T.O’s. The OL is the Achilles heel and hopefully we can keep Carson healthy. Arians will have to scheme a bit better as they don't have the horses up front to be a downfield passing team. Brown scares the hell out of me at LT
DL (Campbell, Talley, Williams, Rucker, Dockett ): 2.0
A little below average so far. Really no push from this group. Campbell was getting better and better and is solid but still not an upper echelon DT. Dockett is beginning his decline. Talley and Rucker and decent backups.
OLB (Acho, Okafer, Alexander, Shaughnessy, Abraham) 1.5
Depth has gone out the door with injuries and this group was getting zero pass rush. It will be extremely important to add players next year. Abraham is finished.
ILB (Dansby, Washington, Minter, Demens, Brinkley) 3.5
A couple of notches below SF (5.0) but this is a very good group. Washington will really help when he returns.
CB (Peterson, Arenas, Cason, Powers) 4.5
Peterson is elite and Powers, Cason and Arenas are above average. This group is much better than what is showing as most teams are killing this team in the seam. with TE's. With no pass rush to speak of this group has been very good.
Safety (Mathieu, Jefferson, Bell, Johnson): 2.5
Love the upside of Mathieu and Jefferson and Bell has been steady...not great. Johnson is a smart player but doesn't have the needed speed to compete consistently at this level.
DEFENSE: Creating turnovers will be key for this group. Washington will really help. Hopefully game 3 woke up Dockett and he gets back to being a decent player. This group will be on the field too long in games given the status of the offense and with no pass rush, the stats will not tell the true story of the quality that is on this side of the ball.
OVERALL: I know hope springs eternal but all those that predicted 9 to 10 wins with this schedule were seriously drinking the cool-aid. This is a 3-4 team win team at best with the schedule ahead. The OL being the weak point (again) it will limit the Cardinals on what they can do offensively week to week. I feel sorry for Carson (never catch a break as he had the same situation in Oakland last year)