2013 NFL Preview: Arizona Cardinals

Norm Hall

We take a look at the Cardinals in anticipation of the new season.

Draft Picks: G Jonathan Cooper, ILB Kenin Minter, CB/S Tyrann Mathieu, DE/OLB Alex Okafor, G Earl Watford, RB Stepfan Taylor, WR Ryan Swope, RB Andre Ellington, TE D.C. Jefferson.

FA Additions: RB Rashard Mendenhall, G Chilo Rachal, QB Drew Stanton, DE Frostee Rucker, DE Matt Shaughnessy, DE/OLB Quentin Groves, ILB Karlos Dansby, ILB Jasper Brinkley, S Yeremiah Bell, CB Antoine Cason, CB Jerraud Powers.

Trade additions: QB Carson Palmer, CB Javier Arenas

Strengths: Yes, even though they are something of the laughing stock of the NFC West, the Cardinals have some serious strengths. First, there's the obvious. WR Larry Fitzgerald should absolutely improve upon his last season. The fact of the matter is that the addition of Carson Palmer only makes the QB position stronger in Arizona. They had arguably the worst QB-play in the league last season. Palmer is the type of deep passer that Bruce Arians might favor, especially with Fitzgerald.

The Cardinals are hoping that this passing game will be backed up by a potent defense. Both Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell will be playing at 100% after battling through injuries last season. This should help them with both the run defense and pass rushing.

Weakness: Speaking of pass rush, the Cardinals need to improve upon their pass rush in 2013. The re-addition of Dockett and Campbell is only offset by the loss of Daryl Washington for at the least the first four games of the season (for substance-abuse violations), if not longer (for legal matters). He had nine sacks last season. At OLB, the Cardinals have Sam Acho as their main pass rusher. But, the Cardinals also picked up Alex Okafor in the draft and Lorenzo Alexander to help out.

Generating pass rush can only help a fairly new secondary. We all know that Patrick Peterson is a beast at CB (though Crabtree routinely forgets that memo). He is joined by new pick up Antoine Cason. I've never been a huge fan of Cason (he seems to get beat deep a lot), and PFF agrees, giving him an overall rating of -10.3 last season -- not exactly what Arizona needs. Jerraud Powers might be the man opposite Peterson; though he is also a question mark for Arizona. Moreover, both starters at safety from last season left. Cue the Tyrann Mathieu experiment ...

On offense, the Cardinals have a couple of related areas of concern. The o-line, while likely better than it was last year, is still a concern. New G Jonathan Cooper should help, as should the return of Levi Brown. But, I'm still suspicious of a couple of spots on the o-line. Bobbie Massie had a wildly inconsistent season last year, though it ended on an upswing, which may continue going forward. The Cardinals also need to figure out what to do at Right Guard -- I mean this is a team that actually signed Chilo Rachal on purpose. They have a couple of non-Rachal candidates, though, including rookie Earl Watford.

Finally, the RB position is pretty barren. Rashard Mendenhall likely isn't the answer. Nor is Ryan Williams (or William Powell). Perhaps the Cardinals are banking upon Stepfan Taylor, the RB from Stanford to be the answer.

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