Treading The Defensive Waters: Arizona Cardinals Upgrade on Defense
If the Cardinals showed anything in this years annual draft, it was that they desperately want to get back to the Super Bowl. The made all the right picks to bolster their defense, and they had Chris "Beanie" Wells fall into their laps.
The draft has come on gone and consisted of it's usual suspense and surprises, but after all of the press conferences, the interviews, the pictures and the professional cuts, it's time to get back on the field.
Offensively Arizona capitalized on the right opportunity to act, but it's the group of defenders the Cardinals brought in that will define whether or not they are heading in the right direction and whether or not these prospects will make an immediate impact, or if they will be works in progress.
For starters, the second round pick out of Connecticut, Cody Brown. Brown played four years at defensive end, but will try his turn at playing linebacker in the NFL. The Cardinals run a 3-4 defense and are anticipating Brown to make the transition to a rush linebacker nicely.
Brown displayed quick feet and the ability to change direction at the Senior Bowl. He stands in at 6'2 244. He ran a 4.84 at the Combine which isn't exactly ideal speed for a rush linebacker, but the Cardinals are optimistic.
Brown has shown throughout his career a toughness and unwillingness to quit. He should be in the linebacker rotation as a rookie and could surprise a lot of people.
The Cardinals then selected Rashad Johnson out of Alabama. The physical safety fell in the charts, but should perform right away for the Cardinals. He's big, 5"11 203 pounds. He's got speed, but it's not great running a 4.53 in the 40 yard dash.
What Johnson lacks in speed he makes up for in intangibles, such as ball hawking skills. He recorded 6 picks his Senior season and 5 in his Junior campaign.
He's no slouch when it comes to tackling either, having recorded 98 tackles in his final season and 89 in the junior year. Johnson is a well spoken player, with leadership skills and has shown maturity throughout his draft process. He should contribute immediately to the Cardinals nickel and dime packages.
Arizona's fourth round pick was quite a surprise. They selected Greg Toler out of St. Pauls. Toler is a corner from a small school, but displayed a rare combination of size and speed. He's 5"11 weighing around 190, but the Cardnials thought he displayed the same skill set as their first rounder a year ago, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Toler is an effective playmaker recording 14 picks, 36 pass breakups and 50 passes defended in his college career. He will be called upon almost immediately due to the recent release of veteran corner-back Rod Hood.
Arizona's final defensive selection was Will Davis out of Illinois in the sixth round of the draft. Davis had impressive workouts during the draft process, but still didn't stand out enough to be a first day pick. He has displayed great ball skills and has shown great athleticism, but he didn't perform up to expectations in his Senior season.
Davis could be a steal if his new organization can get him to work, he has no real character issues, but he's been known to slack off in the weight room. He doesn't have the overall strength to play defensive end, but the Cardinals see potential.
Arizona responded well to their defensive needs in this years draft, and have high hopes for their selections.
These picks should be able to perform immediately, but we'll have to wait a couple more months to be sure.
On the outside looking in, it appears the Cardnials are preparing for another surprising season, and a hopeful return to the Super Bowl.
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