The Arizona Cardinals lost a lot of key players before the 2010 season, and those losses were just too much to overcome. The biggest loss came when Kurt Warner retired from football, as the group of quarterbacks that started for the Cardinals in 2010 have no business starting in the NFL.
Ken Whisenhunt’s main objective this offseason is to find a franchise quarterback, because if he doesn’t, he could find himself out of a job soon.
Derek Anderson was just plain awful last season, and I would really be surprised if he’s back in Arizona next year. Rookie John Skelton played a little bit better toward the end of the year, but I doubt the Cardinals view him as the quarterback of the future.
Arizona has pretty good depth at the running back spot, which they need because of starter Beanie Wells' injury problems. He is the most talented back on the roster, but Tim Hightower and LaRod Stephens-Howling will get plenty of carries next year as well.
Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best wide receivers in the game, but he needs a quarterback who can get the ball to him on a consistent basis. Steve Breaston and Early Doucet are solid second and third options, but both of them are free agents. Andre Roberts may get more opportunities in his second season.
The tight end position is in serious need of an upgrade, where the combination of Ben Patrick, Stephen Spach and Jim Dray just isn’t getting it done.
The offensive line struggled a bit last season, and you could see multiple upgrades. Levi Brown struggled last year at left tackle, and Brandon Keith wasn’t a whole lot better at right tackle. Guards Alan Faneca and Deuce Lutui, plus center Lyle Sendlein, are free agents, so this entire unit is a question mark heading into next year.
The defensive line is pretty solid, particularly at the defensive end position. Darnell Dockett is a Pro Bowl-caliber player, and the combination of Calais Campbell and Kenny Iwebema is pretty solid on the other side. Dan Williams struggled at nose tackle as a rookie, but he started to improve toward the end of the season, and I expect him to be a solid player.
The weak link on the Cardinals’ defense is at linebacker, where you could see a lot of changeover before next season.
The outside linebacker combo of Joey Porter and Clark Haggans just isn’t getting it done, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both of those players released before the start of the season. O’Brien Schofield has good pass-rushing ability, so expect to see him get more playing time next year. Daryl Washington struggled at times at inside linebacker, and he would be much more effective if he added some more weight. Paris Lenon is a below-average starter at the other linebacker spot, so this could be a position the Cardinals address in the draft.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie struggled some last season, but he is still the best cornerback on the Cardinals’ roster. Greg Toler is the other starter, but he is better suited for a back-up role. Arizona will most likely take at least one cornerback to help improve the depth at this position. The safety tandem of Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes looked very impressive last season, but the depth behind them is suspect.