The Arizona Cardinals are on the clock with the 5th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. The Niners Nation community was in complete agreement with me in regards to the top four picks of this weeks draft.
1. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
So, today I will focus on the Arizona Cardinals; a team that made our San Francisco 49ers look like Super Bowl champions on a couple different occasions last season. They were a complete disaster for most of the season, thus removing any goodwill that they had built with their fan base over the course of the last couple seasons.
Onto my predictions......
Cincinnati Bengals Arizona Cardinals 2010 Stats
Passing Yards: 182.6 (31st NFL)
Rushing Yards: 86.8 (32nd NFL)
Passing Defense: 228.4 (23rd NFL)
Rushing Defense: 145.2 (30th NFL)
Derek Anderson: 51.7 Comp %, 2065 Yards, 7 TD, 10 INT, 25 Sacks (65.9 Rating)
Tim Hightower: 153 Attempts, 736 Yards, 4.8 AVG, 5 TD
Larry Fitzgerald: 90 Receptions, 1137 Yards, 6 TD
As you can see this team was absolutely dreadful last season. They ranked last or near the bottom at every major offensive category. The QB play was abysmal with Derek Anderson looking like a joke most of the time. This situation got worse when the likes of John Skelton, Max Hall and Richard Bartel got into the game. One would assume that Arizona would be looking strictly QB in the 1st round, right? Well, it isn't that clear cut.
The Cardinals also ranked 30th in rush defense last season, which placed them third from the bottom. Their base 3-4 scheme just didn't work, at least when it came to the front seven. Dan Williams and Bryan Robinson just didn't get it done on the interior of the defensive line. Simply said, the Cardinals have a lot of holes to fill; too many than they can address in this draft.
#1: Quarterback: This was probably the worse positional problem that any team endured during the 2010 season. Derek Anderson was brought over from the Cleveland Browns to become a stable starting QB in replacing Kurt Warner; well it did not happen. Not only was Anderson completely ineffective on the field, he lost it a couple times with the press. The starting QB is supposed to be the leader on and off the field, Anderson wasn't. The Cardinals threw for less than 200 yards 11 times in 2010.
Combined all four QBs threw only 10 touchdown passes and had a QB rating just over 60. Additionally, Arizona failed to hit double digits on the scoreboard 6 different times. This started and ended with the passing game. Max Hall, an undrafted rookie free agent, came in and started three games, but only threw one touchdown pass. John Skelton, another rookie, started four games and only had two touchdowns. Needless to say, their starting QB for 2011 is not on the roster. Other teams with QB needs such as Carolina, Buffalo, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Tennessee and Washington all have fall back options on their roster; Arizona doesn't.
Top Available Quarterbacks
1. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
2. Christian Ponder, Florida State
3. Jake Locker, Washington
4. Andy Dalton, Texas Christian
5. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
#2: Defensive Tackle: Bryan Robinson and Dan Williams are just not going to get it done. Neither played to a level in which Arizona can have any confidence in them moving forward. I don't care that Williams was young, you cannot allow over 140 rushing yards a game and use the excuse of being young; it just doesn't work in my books. Gabe Watson, a former Michigan standout, doesn't play in the future plans for Arizona either. They are going to have to find a stout run defender in this draft.
Top Available Defensive Tackles
1. Nick Fairley, Auburn
2. Corey Liuget, Illinois
3. Phil Taylor, Baylor
#3: Cornerback: Arizona was so bad on rush defense that their horrible secondary play may have been overlooked, but they were really bad in that area as well. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a solid cornerback, but shouldn't be more than #2 on the depth chart for any solid secondary. Simply put, he is not a #1 corner on a good team. Other players such as Greg Toler and Trumaine McBride are just not that good. It means something when your best cover corner is Mike Adams, a player that was picked up off the scrap heap from our 49ers. They need to upgrade at this position immediately, but the question is; are they willing to spend such an high draft pick here?
Top Cornerbacks Available
1. Patrick Peterson, Louisiana State
2. Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
My Pick: QB- Blaine Gabbert, Missouri: When your passing game was so horrendous and you have no viable option moving forward it is a necessity that you go after one early in the draft. This is one of those situations where need completely trumps BPA.
It doesn't matter how good Arizona's roster is in 2011, if they have the same QB play they had last season, it doesn't mean anything. Blaine Gabbert is the best QB in the draft, and they get him with the #5 pick; not bad. He is a player that can come in immediately and outperform any QB they currently have on the roster.
Listen, Arizona does have talent on the offensive side of the ball with Tim Hightower, Beanie Wells, Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston. They just need someone to came in and play the QB position effectively. You can talk about BPA until you are blue in the face, but sometimes it is imparitive to address the most important position on the field and then move forward. This is what I see Arizona doing at #5.
One again, I am going to include a poll at the bottom. This poll will only include players that are available to the Cardinals at #5 in accordance to previous results. Therefore, Cam Newton, Marcell Dareus, Von Miller and A.J. Green are unavailable.