I like playing Armchair General Manager [AGM](who doesn't? It costs us fans so little, as opposed to the real ones, who lose their jobs if they screw up too much). So, let me put on my black beret (which I was wearing YEARS before Kangols became trendy in town) and peruse the remaining FA at critical positions where the Cardinals obviously need help (where I think the Cards need help may be different from what YOU think...that's why there is a comment section). Let's start with the obvious...offensive line.
Do we really need another one? On the current roster there are only two: Lyle Sendlein and Scott Wedige. Wedige was a rookie last year, and played after Sendlein and Rich Ohrnberger all were lost to injury. So, he's just as new to the new system as everyone else. Sendlein is rehabbing from a knee injury. He should, reportedly, be ready for training camp. There are, as of this writing, nine FA centers available.
My favorite is Alex Parsons, from the Raiders (for obvious reasons; no we are NOT related). Probably the best of these nine is Dan Koppen, from the Broncos. However, it all comes down to money: how cheaply will a veteran play for, versus how much money a college draft pick will cost. The balancing act comes from considering the value of NFL experience versus a rookie's ability to learn and retain quickly. With defensive coordinators designing numerous new stunts every week, and ways to camouflage them until the ball is snapped, having experienced these events in person, and in real time, is a critical value. Not to mention the center is responsible for seemingly a thousand different calls of the blocking schemes, finding the "Mike" backer, and modifying the blocking scheme to fit the look the defense is giving, well, no wonder centers are just as educated as QBs.
You can't just stick some mountain of a man with no smarts over the ball anymore. The call from the AGM: if a veteran won't sign for the veteran's minimum, then pick up a rookie in the later rounds. Sendlein is expected to bounce back and reclaim his starter's spot. A veteran pickup would push Wedige into third place. A rookie would entail a camp battle for second string. Hopefully we start the season with three quality guys ready to kick butt.
Do we need another one (or two?) Does a bear crap in the woods? (The answer is yes.)
Both starting guards for the Cardinals were very low rated by Pro Football Focus. It is interesting to note that the teams that allowed the players we signed hit free agency -- our current starters, Daryn College, (Green Bay), and Adam Snyder, (49ers) -- went to the Super Bowl the year AFTER they were made free agents. I think that this fact speaks lowly of the past coaching staff's, and GM's, player evaluation talents. The fact that the retread the Cardinals picked up off the streets to plug the massive holes in talent and ability, Rich Ohrnberger, played measurably better than Snyder, and at least to the level of Colledge, if not better.
Senio Kelemete was a draft pick who didn't get much of a chance to prove himself last year. His most memorable play wasn't a crushing, steam- rolling block that sprung a running back for a touchdown. No, it was his reception of a 49ers- batted pass, and subsequent yardage gain, that brought him to our attention. At the time, I think, Kelemete had made more yardage in his single play than any Cardinals running back up to that point in the game.
Ohrnberger was subsequently made a FA. He signed with the Chargers (and new OC Whisenhunt). So, there are three guards on the roster as of now. As an AGM, I'd say we need at least five guards. There are approximately 30 FA guards currently available. Several, however, we don't want back. Leonard Davis (AKA The Human Penalty Flag Machine when he was here), Blake DeChristopher (failed physical), Rex Hadnot (went to the Chargers), Deuce Lutui (remember him?), and Reggie Wells. Possibly the best of the FA guards is Jake Scott, who seems intent on working for a different team every year for the maximum amount of money possible. A selfish attitude like that won't endear him to this front office. So, should the Cards draft a couple guards? Balancing the experience versus youth argument I made previously, the Cards have really only one hole to plug here: Adam Snyder. There is enough experience on the roster to allow a rookie draft pick to come in and learn the position the NFL way. So, the AGM calls for the Cardinals to pick Chance Warmack at number seven, and pick up another guard later in the draft. There is plenty of talent in this draft, so finding a good guard in later rounds shouldn't be tough.
A position of both strength (in theory) and weakness (in reality) for the Cardinals.
On paper, we look good. Rookies Bobby Massie and Nate Potter both were finally ‘thrown to the lions' in desperation, and after an initial rough patch, played well down the stretch of the season, Massie better than Potter. With a new coaching staff and new techniques, they will only get better (we hope). Levi Brown has recovered from a triceps injury, and will be available at camp. His pass blocking skills are still the subject of much debate. Many believe that Brown is better suited to the guard position, and should be moved there. However, for the sake of this argument, let's leave Brown at tackle for now. This gives the Cards three. As the AGM, I think the Cards should carry AT LEAST four, if not five.
Where do we find our tackles? There are approximately 25 FA tackles on the street. Again, there are some we don't want to see again; D'Anthony Bastiste (AKA The Human Turnstile), Demetress Bell (whom the Cards tried to sign, but he shunned them for the Eagles, where he promptly turned into the second coming of D'Anthony Batiste), and Pat McQuistan, who played well for the Cards, and would be good depth /backup for the Cards. In the Draft, the talent level is off the charts. Current wisdom is that no less than three tackles will be taken in the first ten picks. So, should the AGM take a tackle at number seven? Should the aforementioned grizzly defecate in a heavily forested area? You betcha! Whoever of the top three tackles falls to me at seven, he's mine! Unless I like Chance Warmack better...
Thursday: QB, WR, TE, RB.
I've had my say. What say you, ROTB Best and Brightest?