Cardinals Rookie Most Likely To…

Rashad Johnson (AP Photo)

The Arizona Cardinals rookie class will have high expectations entering next season and will be counted on to perform when called upon. Last year's group made an immediate impact and the Cardinal faithful hope that scenario takes place again in 2009. Brad Wilbricht predicts who's headed for success, who might be in for a learning season and more in this AZRedReport.com exclusive.

Rookie most likely to: Crack the starting lineup

RB Chris Wells

This is somewhat of a no-brainer but not a forgone conclusion given the success RB Tim Hightower experienced a year ago. If Wells can stay healthy he'll likely become the feature back in Arizona but that's a big if given his inability to stay on the field during college. In addition, Wells needs to continue to progress as a physical runner and must initiate contact instead of avoiding it. If Wells can do just that and prove to be a reliable receiver out of the backfield he should see time as a starter.

Rookie most likely to: Spend time learning on the sidelines

CB Greg Toler

The same could have been said for CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie last season and obviously he proved the naysayers wrong with a tremendous rookie campaign. Toler will attempt to do the same but the small-school prospects learning curve could be slightly longer. Toler lacks the natural skills Rodgers-Cromartie displays and his football IQ isn't quite as high. However, he has better size entering the professional ranks and if he's able to increase his awareness he's likely to prove us wrong.

Rookie most likely to: Be plagued by injuries

OG Herman Johnson

While Wells would certainly fit here, Johnson is the choice. He was fairly injury free during his time at LSU but the beginning of his NFL career will include substantial conditioning. Due to him changing his body type, Johnson may be more susceptible to injuries. Furthermore, with the Cardinals spread thin at the guard position, he could be rushed into action earlier than expected. Ideally, Johnson would have a year to learn under offensive line coach Russ Grimm before he sees extensive action.

Rookie most likely to: Be named Rookie of the Year

S Rashad Johnson

This could be a long-shot but Johnson might be one of the most NFL ready players in this year's draft. He brings incredible intangibles along with a very polished game. Additionally, Johnson's coming into a situation where his contributions will be purely a luxury with little pressure on the former Alabama walk-on. Historically, Arizona's utility secondary member has been very productive, similar to Antrel Rolle in 2007. Johnson features similar ball-hawking skills and could be due for a productive year.

Rookie most likely to: Wind up on the practice squad

OG Trevor Canfield

Hopefully all of this year's rookies can find a long-term home in the desert but Canfield might be left on the outside looking in. The Cardinals used a fifth-round pick on Johnson and Canfield could be the first to go if cuts are needed. Canfield has the potential to develop into a contributor but he also needs a lot of work. Under Grimm's instruction, there's no better place to learn than Arizona. Even if Canfield doesn't make the active roster there's a good shot he'll land on the practice squad.


Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com
or click here to access the AZRedReport.com message boards.

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