2011 NFL Draft | Arizona Cardinals Team Needs
The Arizona Cardinals did an absolute face plant in 2010, clearly missing the retired Kurt Warner. It started and ended with a complete mess at the quarterback position, as the Cardinals struggled to score and even take care of the ball all season.
It’s as simple as this: you can’t win consistently when you’re rotating three quarterbacks who aren’t good NFL quarterbacks. Even if they stuck with one all season, Arizona would have been in trouble, but that much change and inconsistency is just a cancer for a team.
Arizona needs to actually do what they originally set out to do in 2010, and that’s run the ball. However, they still need competence at the quarterback position, which means bringing in a veteran, and/or landing their future guy at the position. They also need to revamp their offensive line, among other things.
Biggest Needs: QB, OL, TE
The quarterback situation needs to be resolved before the start of the 2011 season. The Cardinals could simply add a free agent or trade for a veteran like Donovan McNabb or Vince Young and hope that John Skelton develops, but whatever they do, upgrading the position is a must. If the team accepts that their future quarterback probably isn’t on their current roster, then taking Blaine Gabbert with the fifth overall pick makes the most sense. If they want to upgrade on defense first, they could also stumble upon a guy like Jake Locker in the second round, or even Delaware’s Pat Devlin.
From another perspective, its pretty obvious that a lot of Arizona’s quarterback troubles stemmed from poor pass protection. Upgrades could be had across the board, as veteran Alan Faneca wasn’t himself, and the rest of the line was only mediocre, at best. Levi Brown was atrocious in 2010, so adding a talented left tackle in the second or third round is a must. Shoring up their top tackle spot could be solved by adding DeMarcus Love in the second or third round.
Arizona hasn’t had an elite tight end for years, so giving their 2011 quarterback a reliable option as a safety net would be a nice present. There’s tons of solid talent at the position in the 2011 draft, so grabbing a quality tight end in the middle rounds is possible, and it’d go a long way in completing Arizona’s pass offense. If they’re smart and realize this weakness as a big need, they might consider pulling the trigger on Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph in the second round. The Cardinals appear to be pretty set at receiver, but if they have to end up trading Larry Fitzgerald or lose Steve Breaston via free agency, they’ll need to upgrade this position, as well.
Biggest Needs: LB, CB, S
Arizona’s pass-rushing specialists didn’t get it done as expected in 2010, as Joey Porter and Clark Haggans only combined for 10 sacks on the year. Both players are talented and still could bring something to the table in 2011, but adding some speedy and athletic edge rushers is a must toward building a consistent defense, with or without Porter and Haggans.
Another area of concern is the secondary, where Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie under-performed in 2010, and Kerry Rhodes left a lot to be desired when helping on run defense. Both players have great athleticism and instincts in pass defense, and would likely play at a higher level when/if the Cardinals beefed up their pass-rushing. Both players should be around again next year, but Arizona could still stand to improve corner and safety, possibly with the addition of safety Ahmad Black in the middle rounds, while Chris L. Rucker could be a fine addition as a more physical corner.
The Cardinals aren’t in horrible shape on defense. They simply need some fresh talent that can push the competition and/or come in and make some players. Its their offense that is in total disarray, and they need to figure out a way to protect the passer, while also locating a quarterback that can get the job done with or without protection. Even adding a competent veteran like McNabb could get this team right back into contention for the woeful NFC West.