Time to Rolle On: Rebuilding the Secondary

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In the wake of the recent exodus of playmakers, the Cardinals now need a successful draft more than ever. The departure of Antrel Rolle has left a glaring hole in the secondary. Has Rashad Johnson developed enough to step up? Should the Cardinals address the safety position via the draft? Tyson Qualls examines the situation.

Antrel Rolle has left the building after signing a contact with the New York Giants. His new deal makes him the highest paid safety in the National Football League. While Cardinals' fans should be thankful that their team did not drastically overpay for Rolle like the Giants did, the secondary still needs to be addressed.

One potential prospect is safety Nate Allen out of South Florida. He is projected to go in the second to third round. If the Cardinals are adamant about revitalizing the defense, taking a strong defensive tackle in the first round and then a player like Allen would be a positive decision.

Allen has been working hard during the offseason. When asked what his focus has been, he responded with:

"I've been training out at API in Arizona and been working on everything; 40s, lateral movements, everything. I definitely feel I've improved."

Regardless of Johnson's ability to step up, the Cardinals need to add depth in the secondary. With Adrian Wilson's penchant for run defense, it would be wise to select a safety that has experience playing off the ball. Allen's role at South Florida entailed the following.

"They had me back in the secondary making most of the calls and directing traffic back there. I played in the box some. Most of the time they had me back deep."

Allen has decent size (6'1 207) for a safety and his speed (4.5 40) is right in the same range as Rolle's. He also considers his range as his biggest attribute. Following a season where the Cardinals routinely gave up the deep pass, Allen's ability to prevent receivers from getting behind him, would be a welcome change of pace.

If the Cardinals decided against selecting a safety in the draft, they will have to turn to Johnson to fill the void left by Rolle. Johnson has been solid on special teams and in certain packages, but it remains to be seen if he is capable of handling the position every week. Last year he finished with 20 tackles and one pass defended in limited action. He did however, contribute seven tackles against the Green Bay Packers in the final game of the season.

Bottom Line:

Cardinals' fans and management cannot panic after experiencing a dramatic Black Friday. The face of the franchise is still the best receiver in the NFL, Larry Fitzgerald. While the supporting players have changed, if the Cardinals stay focused on Coach Whisenhunt's vision, they can remain on track.

At the moment, defense is the most glaring need. Rolle was a great safety, but not worth anything near the money the Giants gave him. If anything, Cardinals' supporters should be breathing a sigh of relief. Whether via trade, free agency, or through the draft, the Cardinals will be able to find a worthy replacement at a much more resonable price.

Questions or Comments? Contact Tyson Qualls at tysonqsports@gmail.com or on Twitter with @tysonqsports

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