Arizona Cardinals 2013 Breakout Player Projections

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Oct 21, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Arizona Cardinals tight end Rob Housler (84) catches a pass for 8 yards against the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter at the Metrodome. The Vikings win 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

What happened to the Arizona Cardinals last year? I was apprehensive about their 4-0 start as anyone in 2012, but for them to turn around like they did and be one of the absolute worst teams in the NFL after that kind of a start was pretty remarkable.

Plain and simple, the Cardinals were missing two pieces of their team that wound up proving to be the ultimate killer. First and probably foremost, they had no true #1 quarterback. Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, John Skelton, etc. You get the picture.

Not only the bad QB situation, but the Cardinals really struggled on the offensive line. They couldn’t get any semblance of a running game going, and the OL was injured all over the place and in a shambles.

At least by my eye, that has all significantly changed for the Cardinals in 2013. I really like the addition of Carson Palmer at the QB position, even though I’m not a huge fan of the fact that they passed on the entire class of 2013 for quarterbacks.

The Cardinals used their top selection on the second ranked player in this class by our rankings, North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper. With a young but improved offensive line in 2013, this Cardinals team has the defense to be able to surprise some people.

Here are three players on this Cardinals roster–one from each of the last three draft classes–that could have a breakout season in 2013.

Third Year — Rob Housler, TE

The easy pick for this spot would be 2011 first rounder Patrick Peterson, whose career as a cornerback got off to a really slow start while he adjusted to the NFL by exploding onto the scene as one of the league’s top punt returners. With seven interceptions and 17 passes defended last season, I’m going another route with the class of 2011, saying that Peterson has already “broken out”.

Tight end Rob Housler is a budding star who had 45 receptions a year ago, but is still seeking his first career NFL touchdown after two seasons in the league. He went on injured reserve at the end of the 2012 season with one game left to play, but if he can stay healthy this year, I think we’re looking at one of the up-and-coming stud tight ends in the NFL.

Housler has great size at 6’5″ 250 pounds and runs a 4.55 second 40 yard dash. This guy is an athletic stud and head coach Bruce Arians has raved about his ability on numerous occasions this offseason. With the coaching staff behind him, the former 2011 third rounder could be set for a breakout season.

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