ARIZONA CARDINALS / 2013 TEAM NEEDS
The Cardinals are banking on new head coach Bruce Arians developing a QB. But whether one is currently on the roster is unknown. Whoever is under center needs far better protection — Arizona allowed a league-high 58 sacks — and greater contributions from the NFL’s last-ranked run game in 2012 before he can maximize WR Larry Fitzgerald.
TOP 3 OFFENSIVE NEEDS
QB — The No. 1 reason Ken Whisenhunt was fired was an inability to stabilize the QB position after Kurt Warner retired three seasons ago. Can Arians fix Kevin Kolb, a major disappointment in his first two years in the desert? Brian Hoyer, Ryan Lindley and John Skelton are nothing more than clipboard holders.
OT — The Cardinals would have been better up front if former first-rounder Levi Brown didn’t tear his triceps last offseason, but his pass protection is still subpar. Rookie ORT Bobbie Massie progressed steadily, but dependable bookends are a luxury the Cardinals don’t currently possess. Arizona hasn’t drafted an offensive lineman higher than Round Three since Brown in 2007.
RB — Beanie Wells might have worn out his welcome, in addition to being an injury-prone fumbler. The Cardinals love Ryan Williams, but injuries have robbed him of 27 of a possible 32 games to begin his career. Even if Williams becomes the kind of explosive playmaker he was drafted to be, the Cardinals need to cover their bases by bolstering a backfield that, in addition to Wells, could lose free agent LaRod Stephens-Howling.
New coordinator Todd Bowles inherits a talented group that was very good against the pass but suspect against the run. ILB Daryl Washington and CB Patrick Peterson are rising stars, and DE Calais Campbell can be a dominant pass rusher, but will Bowles embrace former coordinator Ray Horton’s aggressive style that led to 33 takeaways?
TOP 3 DEFENSIVE NEEDS
DE — Campbell is a nightmare for opponents, but there is little to fear behind him. Vonnie Holliday is a free agent who, at 37, is no longer effective. Similar story for veteran Nick Eason. Darnell Dockett, 32, was quiet on the field in 2012. Campbell received a lucrative long-term extension last year, and the club would be wise to protect its investment.
S — The heir apparent to longtime Cardinal SS Adrian Wilson, whose sharp decline has led to rumblings that he could be released, does not appear to be on the roster. Both Rashad Johnson and James Sanders saw an uptick in playing time, but they are both unrestricted free agents. Kerry Rhodes, 31, is entering the final year of his deal.
LB — O’Brien Schofield was flashing as a pass rusher this past season when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Sam Acho’s play tailed off in the second half. Quentin Groves has value, but he won’t wreak consistent havoc off the edges. With a game changer like Campbell up front, the Cardinals would really benefit from an outside ’backer who requires an occasional double team. More depth would help inside following the release of Stewart Bradley.
2012 DRAFT REWIND
1st round (13): WR Michael Floyd / Notre Dame (GP/GS: 16/3)
Skinny: Concentration lapses marred quiet rookie season.
3rd round (80): CB Jamell Fleming / Oklahoma (GP/GS: 15/3)
Skinny: Gained some experience at nickel with Greg Toler out.
4th round (112): OT Bobby Massie / Mississippi (GP/GS: 16/16)
Skinny: Made impressive strides after being sieve early.
5th round (151): OG Senio Kelemete / Washington (GP/GS: 1/0)
Skinny: His 10-yard reception in 2012 finale was biggest moment.
6th round (177): FS Justin Bethel / Presbyterian (GP/GS: 16/0)
Skinny: Solid gunner, special-teams contributor.
6th round (185): QB Ryan Lindley / San Diego State (GP/GS: 6/4)
Skinny: Smart, big arm. But nowhere near ready to be starter.
7th round (221): OT Nate Potter / Boise State (GP/GS: 8/6)
Skinny: Held up surprisingly well at left tackle. Must add bulk.
SUMMARY: That Massie and Potter are highlights says it all. Floyd must blossom to salvage underwhelming class.
Pro Football Weekly's 2013 Draft Guide is now available at stores where magazines are sold. It can also be ordered by calling 1-800-FOOTBALL.