The 2014 NFL Draft is officially a wrap, which means offseason additions are just about complete. There will be some small free agent additions here and there, but training camp rosters are just about set. With that in mind, we are back to review each of the 49ers 2014 opponents. Each team has gained and lost numerous players, so this series will help get you more familiar with the rosters of each opponent.
I can't help but think of the Cardinals as a team on the rise, and this fact scares me. They are a potent division rival, and frankly, have a legitimate shot at stealing the division from both the Seahawks and the 49ers. Do I think it's likely? Not as likely as the Seahawks or the 49ers winning the division, but it could absolutely happen. I wouldn't be surprised, to be honest.
It doesn't surprise me, going back to look at my earlier post on the Cardinals this year, that I didn't have much to say in terms of critiques of the team. Defensively, they are a really complete unit. As we will see in the free agency portion of this post below, they did lose Karlos Dansby, which hurts. But, I think this defense will continue to thrive in an already tenacious NFC West.
The really big question the Cardinals will have to face in the next few years is the QB position. Carson Palmer is, frankly, good for the team right now. By no means is he an elite QB; and, of course the Cardinals would jump at an upgrade. But, he suits the offensive philosophy well and will continue to serve as a good stop-gap / mentor to the next guy.
Additions: OT Jared Veldheer, RB Jonathan Dwyer, C Ted Larsen, TE John Carlson, WR Ted Ginn, CB Antonio Cromartie.
Losses: LB Karlos Dansby, TE Jim Dray, WR Andre Roberts, LB Jasper Brinkley (cut), CB Javier Arenas, CB Antoine Cason, LB Dontay Moch.
The return of Ted Ginn to the NFC West! I mean, if you are going to lose Roberts to free agency, you might as well replace him with the powerhouse that is Ginn. Joking aside, when Ginn isn't running out of bounds, he is a potent returner. That guy can be dangerous. I am also interested in seeing how the swap of Cromartie for Cason works out. Cason was a good player for the Chargers and spent only the last year on the Cardinals. I think Cromartie is a good addition, though, and joins a secondary that is already pretty stacked.
I've already mentioned that losing Dansby is going to be a big loss for the Cardinals. But, I think the biggest addition might be Veldheer. If the Cardinals have had a weak link with Palmer under Center, it has been the OL. Part of that has been injury problems. Jonathan Cooper went down last year, but he is expected to return for the majority of offseason workouts.
27. Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
52. Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
84. Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
91. John Brown, WR, Pittsburg State
120. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
160. Ed Stinson, DE, Alabama
196. Walt Powell, WR, Murray State
The Cardinals did quite a good job adding key pieces in the draft. The big knock is that Bucannon is too much of a reach in the first round, but I think he will add some physicality to a secondary that is already potent. Martin is also a good addition; he seems to have a pretty high ceiling and can add a massive frame (6-foot-6, 272 pounds) to the Cardinal's DL.
The big question coming out of this draft will be Thomas. Another 6-foot-6 guy, Thomas has the athleticism to suit the Cardinal's downfield offense. From everything I've read (and I will admit that I have not seen him play), the kid is brimming with potential. He might be the guy who can supplant Palmer as the QB of the future.