The secondary took plenty of heat in 2007 and by the end of the season, it was criticism well deserved. They finished the season ranked 27th in pass defense and ranked near the bottom of the league in touchdowns allowed. The secondary, as well as defense as a whole faltered terribly down the stretch. After playing the Buccaneers in week 9 the Cardinals were allowing, on average, 194.6 passing yards per game. Had they finished the season with that average, they'd have had the 8th best pass defense in the league. Instead though they tanked the next eight games allowing over 250 yards passing 6 times and over 300 yards three times (CIN, NO, ATL). They would finish the season allowing an average of 232.3 passing yards per game.
Much like the rest of the defense, the secondary suffered their share of injuries last season. The biggest loss was strong safety and leader of the defense, Adrian Wilson, who missed missed the final seven games. He was joined on IR by starting corner back, Eric Green, who missed the final 5 games. They also lost top backup safety Aaron Francisco for five games in the middle of the season. The one good thing that came out of the 2007 injury riddled season though was the idea to move former first round pick Antrel Rolle to free safety. Here's how the secondary should shake out in 2008:
Corner Back: The starters should remain the same with Roderick Hood and Eric Green getting the nod for the second consecutive season. Hood had a decent season, his first in Arizona, starting all 16 games and recording five interceptions and 21 passes defended. He signed a 5 year, 15 million dollar deal to come to Arizona and if he can continue to be that productive, he'll be a great free agent addition. Green struggled though in first season as a starter breaking up just eight passes and failing to record an interception for the second consecutive season.
Green is back on a one year tender and unless his production improves dramatically they'll let him walk after 2008, although there is some hope that he'll be an adequate #3 corner when DRC is ready to step up. First round pick, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, isn't going to be pressured into starting from day one but it he'll likely be expected to win the job sometime during the season. His second-to-none athleticism should be an instant upgrade once he's able to add 10-15 pounds. The depth chart should be filled out by some combination of veterans Ralph Brown and Matt Ware and second year player Michael Adams. Only two of these guys will be able to make the cut though. Undrafted free agent Marcus Brown will have to make some noise in training camp in order to snag a roster spot.
Safety: Again the starting safeties are set. Adrian Wilson will be returning as the incumbent starter for the 6th consecutive season, but it will be his first season to prove that he's fully recovered for an injury that caused him to miss significant time. He be joined by Antrel Rolle, who'll be starting his first season as free safety. Prior to the 2007 season, the Cardinals added free agent Terrence Holt with a significant salary but a disappointing season has since seem him leave town for Carolina. Depth will come from Aaron Francisco and Oliver Celestin, both of whom are younger players who are stand outs on special teams. Dennis Keyes, another undrafted free agent, will likely get a spot on the practice squad.
The secondary as a whole looks like it should be improved and if they can stay healthy, they should be well above average. The wild-card will be how quickly DRC becomes a starter. Once he's firmly entrenched, the Cards will have three explosive play makers in the defensive backfield. So how good do you think the pass defense will be? Can Rolle succeed in his first season as a safety?