It was almost unfair to a watch a team like the Arizona Cardinals finish 10-6 on the season and still fall a bit short of a playoff bid. Not to mention, Arizona still placed 3rd in their division with their record, proving the NFC West division is more then likely the toughest in the NFL. Stars emerged under first year coach, Bruce Arians. Tyrann Mathieu exploded on the scene as a rookie, proving that a year removed from the football had no ill effect on his play making abilities. Andre Ellington was also another rookie for the Cardinals who proved to be very effective when used correctly. By years end he had practically replaced Rashard Mendenhall as the top running back on the depth chart; showing off his tremendous speed, and soft hands in the passing game. The new acquisitions of left franchise tackle, Jared Veldheer and veteran cornerback from the Jets, Antonio Cromartie; should solidify their positions for their respective positions, adding veteran leadership to the locker room.
Looking at the Arizona Cardinals roster the NFL Draft Daily finds it quite hard to really point out specific need areas for this team. Right tackle is the only position that sticks out, but after Zack Martin, there are no tackles left in the draft deserving of a first round grade. A quarterback that could be mentored under starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, would be ideal; but a project under center is also not considered a top priority for them in the first round. A trade back could be a possible scenario for Arizona if the right deal comes along, but just for the sake of the draft, let’s get a little creative. Arizona was one of the top defenses in the league last year, oddly enough though, they were third best in their division. An argument could be made for a safety like Calvin Pryor to be taken with the pick to pair up next to Mathieu, but NFL Draft Daily thinks solidifying their 3rd corner position with a certain player could possibly create a dynamic triple threat at corner for Arizona.
Jason Verrett has been a one of a kind corner during his tenure at TCU. If Verrett had decided to forgo his senior season and enter the draft last year, he might have been one of the first corners taken. Talent and ability is not what limits this kid from being the top corner taken in this draft, it’s his height. Jason Verrett stands at a respectable 5’10, but with the Seattle Seahawks now setting a standard with height and length on the edges; each team is longing for that tall and lanky corner. Somewhat unfortunate for a kid with the skill to be an every down player in the league. Verrett can tackle, support the run defense, quick fluid hips out of breaks, has a knack for making plays and causing turnovers. The only thing the NFL Draft Daily sees that the former TCU corner back could work on, is his issue with interfering with wide receivers and causing penalties. Besides the minor deficiencies, Verrett could turn the Cardinals into one of the premier pass defenses in the league, if they weren’t already.
Other positions that may need a little tweaking or a possible upgrade are the safety position, an outside linebacker, and possibly a new right guard to go along with a right tackle. After taking a gander through all the possible second round selections, prospects like Kyle Van Noy(outside linebacker, BYU), and Morgan Moses(tackle, Virginia); could fill needed positions in the draft. As good as the Cardinals were last year, they can only get better this year. Hopefully the 2nd year for Bruce Arians is a charm as he looks to lead his team out of the desert and into a playoff birth.
This article is one in a series, published daily, providing analysis, insight and predictions leading up to the NFL draft and beyond.
Commentary by Justin Huffman