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Recent posts by Dan Arkush
After giving up 90 points and 911 yards against the Packers and Saints in last year's playoffs, it was quite evident the Cardinals' defense was dangerously soft up the middle.
That appeared to be the case even before the team lost its leading tackler in Karlos Dansby, who moved on to greener pastures in Miami as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
In addition, the Cardinals entered the draft with big-time question marks at nose tackle, with wily veteran Bryan Robinson, another unrestricted free agent, seriously considering retirement after 13 extremely serviceable seasons at the pro level.
With the odds not looking real good that Robinson would return, and his backup last season, Gabe Watson, having failed to overtake Robinson in part due to the fact that he, in effect, played the '09 season on only one good leg, it comes as no surprise that the Cardinals made the middle of their front seven a top priority with the selection of 6-2, 327-pound road grader Dan Williams with their first pick (26th overall) in the first round.
Williams played at Tennessee, where he made a quantum leap in his final season under the direction of first-year defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who had previously distinguished himself at the pro level in the same capacity with the Buccaneers.
It's safe to say Williams won't have to volunteer to take over the starting NT job in Billy Davis' 3-4 defense, although Watson has lost a lot of weight and is expecting to make much more of an impact this season.
Williams should provide a nice push up the middle, having registered seven sacks and 25 tackles for loss in his college career, and he is very light on his feet. But run blocking is his forte, and he also offers versatility with an ability to also move to the edge, which is something that should please Davis, who likes to move his personnel around.
Drafting a bona fide widebody to clog up the middle with their first pick gets the Cardinals' 2010 draft off to a very decent start.
Finding a replacement, however, for Dansby, who would have benefited greatly from Williams' presence, remains a major challenge.
For the most authoritative NFL draft news and free-agency analysis, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.