Terrence Cody (Getty)
As then end of April approaches, the Cardinals are prepping for what could be their most important draft in decades. With the retirement of Bertrand Berry, the unhappiness of Anquan Boldin, and the impending decision from Kurt Warner; next year's squad could be vastly different. If the Cardinals aren't going to miss a beat, they must restock successfully before next season rolls around.
The Cardinals experienced a Pro Bowl season from their young superstar Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but also saw a rather disappointing season from the veteran free agent Bryant McFadden. He was abused throughout their final game in New Orleans and when Rodgers-Cromartie went down, the lack of depth in the secondary became glaringly apparent.
Greg Toler could become a solid player in time, but the Cardinals need to invest in a player higher than the fourth round. If the Cardinals decide to shore up the cornerback position for years to come, a player like Patrick Robinson (Florida State) or Perrish Cox (Oklahoma State) would make a perfect compliment to Rodgers-Cromartie.
Should I stay or should I go now? Besides popularity with men over the age of 40, Kurt Warner and the Clash share only those lyrics as a common feeling. As Warner continues to ponder his future in the NFL, the Cardinals must be prepared for life after Warner.
Is Leinart the future? Will the Cardinals be watching Brian St. Pierre throw to Fitzgerald next season? These are scary thoughts for the reigning NFC West Champions. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has never been the supporter of Leinart that Denny Green was. If the Cardinals are going to go in a different direction they must address the quarterback issue either in the draft or through free agency.
If a player like Tim Tebow (Florida) or Colt McCoy (Texas) is still available in the second or third round, the Cardinals would be smart to add insurance, provided that Warner does not return.
With the aging of Mike Gandy, there is a huge need for a top tier left tackle on the front line. Jeremy Bridges filled in admirably, but is certainly not a long term option.
Most of the current mock drafts have the Cardinals selecting an offensive lineman in the first round. This would be a great decision, as long as it is not a reach and the lineman is truly the best player available. Levi Brown has been a solid player, but not top-five caliber. With the Cardinals picking at number 26, Trent Williams (Oklahoma) would be a great option if he is still on the board.
Cody Brown's ability has yet to be proven in the NFL and the rest of the Cardinals' linebackers are getting up there in age. Karlos Dansby being the only exception to that rule. Clark Haggans recently turned 33, Chike Okeafor will be 34 in March, and Gerald Hayes will be 30 before next season ends. Each player did a decent job in 2009, but as the ages increase, so do the injuries.
Following the playoff loss to the Saints, the Cardinals looked like a team without the depth to handle losing players. If the Cardinals decide on selecting another rushing linebacker to compete with Cody Brown, then Jerry Hughes (TCU) may still available near the end of the first round.
Bryan Robinson, Alan Branch, and Gabe Watson combined for three sacks last season. Kevin Williams of Minnesota has twice as many by himself. The Cardinals have to improve on their interior line and provide help for Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell.
Dockett was a one man wrecking crew, but other teams must pay the consequences when they decide to double team Dockett. Jared Odrick (Penn State) and Terrence Cody (Alabama) are two viable options to replace Robinson. Odrick may even slip into the second round due to off the field incidents.
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