With key free-agent acquisitions and new rookies at their disposal, the Cardinals defense should be…
Cards' 2004 Draft Lays Foundation for Future
2. Karlos Dansby (6'4", 250 pounds) came to the Cardinals from Auburn and quickly became a starter and defensive leader. In 58 games, he's tallied 261 solo tackles, 20.5 sacks, seven interceptions, nine forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns. Dansby was a steal in the second round but is no longer a bargain-bin player; he signed his one-year tender as a franchise player earlier this off-season.
3. Darnell Dockett (6'4", 285 pounds) was a star defensive lineman at Florida State. He's taken that productivity to the next level, culminating in his first Pro Bowl appearance at the end of last season. In 64 games, he's recorded 134 solo tackles, 15 sacks, three interceptions and six forced fumbles. He inked a five-year extension in 2006 but is currently skipping voluntary workouts in pursuit of a new deal.
4. Alex Stepanovich (6'4", 300 pounds) was a star center out of Ohio State. During the three years he played for the Cardinals, he appeared in 30 games and started each of them. He was traded to the Cincinnati Bengals prior to the 2007 season and is now a part of the rebuilding project that is the Atlanta Falcons.
5. Antonio Smith (6'4", 282 pounds) was the latest in the line of excellent defensive linemen to come out of Oklahoma State, a list that includes Pro Bowlers Jamal Williams (San Diego Chargers) and Kevin Williams (Minnesota Vikings). In 43 games with the Cardinals, Smith has tallied 67 solo tackles, 11 sacks, one forced fumble and one defensive touchdown. Despite an influx of D-line talent this off-season, Smith is projected as a starter heading into 2008.
6. Nick Leckey (6'3", 300 pounds) played center for Kansas State. He was traded to the St. Louis Rams in 2007 as the Cardinals admitted failure in their two-fold attempt to solidify the center position through the 2004 draft. During his three years in Arizona, he played in 44 games and started 20 of them.
7. John Navarre (6'6", 251 pounds) was a late-round pick out of Michigan, but he was hardly the second coming of Tom Brady. He did get a chance to learn from Brady's rival, however, as he was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in 2006. He played in two games for the Cardinals, starting one.
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