The Arizona Cardinals are a team in transition. I feel terrible for Larry Fitzgerald, since the team simply refuses to home-grow its own top quarterback prospect ever since the Matt Leinart debacle. Fitzgerald’s production has suffered, and the Cardinals are simply one of the worst teams in the league, sad to say.
But a new dawn is rising in Arizona, and the team is undergoing a major transition. There is talk of Carson Palmer coming to down, be it via trade or release. They brought in former Colt Drew Stanton, who is slated to be the starter under his former offensive coordinator and now head coach, Bruce Arians.
Arians likely had a huge say in the trade for Stanton, who was viewed as a potential starter when he came into the NFL. He hasn’t quite grown into that role, but may be thrust into it with the likes of Brian Hoyer, John Skelton, and Ryan Lindley also on the roster.
It’s hard for me to believe the Cardinals really plan on keeping Stanton as the number one throughout the whole season. They released Kevin Kolb predictably after he was a major failure of a project in a trade with the Eagles. I think you could see some big splashes from the Cardinals after a very quiet but solid free agent period for this team.
Key additions: RB Rashard Mendenhall (Steelers), QB Drew Stanton (Colts), DE Matt Shaughnessy (Raiders), DE Frostee Rucker (Browns), OLB Lorenzo Alexander (Redskins), LB Jasper Brinkley (Vikings), CB Antoine Cason (Chargers), CB Jerraud Powers (Colts), S Yeremiah Bell (Jets)
1. First Round, 7th overall: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Cardinals have long needed a top left tackle to protect their quarterback. I can’t believe they’ve gone on so long without really upgrading the offensive line in the first round (OT Levi Brown, 2007). That streak has to end, and soon. I think the Cardinals could have a really solid OL rotation if you add Lane Johnson to play left tackle, put Levi Brown at right tackle, and kick Bobby Massie inside to guard. Either way, the Cardinals have to invest this pick in either a LT, OG, QB, or rush LB. I think Johnson is a very solid bet for this pick.
2. Second Round, 38th overall: Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State
If you were to mix the physical abilities of Joe Flacco with the mental makeup of Kyle Orton, I think you’d have Glennon. Glennon is a streaky player with a strong arm who has proven he can hit every throw with relative ease, just not consistency. I think this is a guy who fits Bruce Arians’ offense to a “T”, and could really be the guy the Cardinals have been looking for. He is going to need some development for sure, but this is a necessary move and the Cardinals have shown a lot of interest in Glennon to this point.
3. Third Round, 69th overall: J.J. Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern
The Cardinals let go of both Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes, so they are going to have to look at upgrades for the S position in the draft. Yeremiah Bell was signed on as a veteran stop-gap, but I think at this point, Wilcox is a guy who provides size and speed on the back end with a ton of upside, and can come along slowly as a rookie.
4. Fourth Round, 103rd overall: Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford
Thomas was a very productive linebacker for the Stanford Cardinal over the last few years, and I think he’d be a really nice pickup as a reserve rush LB for the Cardinals here. He doesn’t have good speed, but he has great strength and instincts, and can make plays in the backfield. I think he’d be a solid addition to their rush LB group.