Heading into the 2016 NFL season, there are big expectations for the Arizona Cardinals. They are coming off a 13-3 season and many feel they have improved their roster in the offseason with the combination of trades, free agency and the draft.
But what is the weakest part of the roster at this point?
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal wrote about the biggest weakness for each NFL team and for the Cardinals it is an area that was considered perhaps their greatest strength just a season ago -- the defensive backfield.
Justin Bethel, who excelled as a No. 4 cornerback and special teamer, now stands second on the team's depth chart. He recently underwent foot surgery. Patrick Peterson is coming off ankle surgery, while Tyrann Mathieu is recovering from a torn ACL. Third-round pick Brandon Williams was seen as a project at cornerback after splitting time as a running back in college. Even though the Cardinals play a ton of safeties and Mathieu essentially plays cornerback, the Cardinals have a shocking lack of NFL-caliber cornerbacks on the roster. Don't be surprised if they add a veteran or two.
The secondary is one of the biggest question marks, but when you have Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, could it be the biggest weakness? Yes, there are questions about Bethel. Tyvon Branch, expected to start at safety, is frequently injured. But when you have two All-Pros, it is hard to consider it a weakness.
Of course that might be the thing -- on a team so loaded with talent (and Rosenthal notes the Cards might have "the most loaded roster in the NFL."), this might not be an insult.
Of course, we could look at the linebacking corps and wonder if that will be the weak spot. They added Chandler Jones, but what will Markus Golden give you for a full season? Kevin Minter is solid, not nothing special. The best linebacker on the team a season ago was Deone Bucannon -- and he isn't technically a linebacker.
But there were bug changes in the secondary this offseason and Mathieu has to come back from another knee injury. So there are legitimate questions.
Is it the biggest weak spot? Maybe, maybe not. But if it is, that means the Cardinals are in a really good spot, so no outrage this time around. We should save that for the next time the Seahawks are ranked ahead of the Cardinals in something.