Arizona Cardinals season preview

Last years record: 5-11 (Last in division)
Coach:Ken Whisenhunt
Key Addition: This off-season the Cardinals acquired veteran players who should bring some leadership to an inexperienced team like tackle Mike Gandy. The new coach Ken Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator for the Steelers last year and should look to improve the Cardinals 30th ranked running game. Whisenhunt should also bring lots of his successful trick plays along with him. Receiver Anquan Boldin could be a big part of that as he played quarterback in high school like another Whisenhunt product Antwan Randle El.
Key Loss: None of the Cardinals losses were that big as the team had no interest in bringing back aging veterans Robert Griffith or Orlando Huff. Offensive tackle Leonard Davis is a good talent but they replaced him with first round pick Levi Brown.
Draft: The Cardinals only had five draft picks but all of them could end up being solid contributors in a couple years. 1st round offensive tackle Levi Brown of Penn State should protect lefty Matt Leinart’s blind side for the next decade. 2nd Round Defensive Tackle Alan Branch of Michigan was projected as a top 10 pick but has a questionable work ethic. If Branch tries,he could be a dominant force on the defensive line. 3rd round Linebacker Buster Davis of Florida State is a bit undersized at 5’9 but could be a starter in a few years. Davis should have an immediate impact on special teams this year. 5th round receiver Steve Breaston of Michigan will most likely be used on kick returns but could become a good number 4 receiver. The sleeper of the draft class is 7th round Delaware tight end Ben Patrick. Patrick is big with soft hands and could get some red zone opportunities this year and could end up starting.
Offense: With lots of young firepower, the Cardinals could be one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Quarterback Matt Leinart now has a year of experience and a paternity suit under his belt and could throw around 25 touchdowns this year. Edgerrin James was brought in last year to improve the running game but with a poor offensive line only averaged 3.4 yards per carry. James could be getting towards the end of his career but backup J.J. Arrington hasn’t lived up to his draft position a couple years ago as a second rounder. If the Cardinals improve their 30th ranked running game it will help the all-pro receiving tandem of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Boldin had a pro bowl type year having over 1,200 yards but only had 4 touchdowns. Fitzgerald had some nagging injuries but when healthy was dominant getting 950 catches and 6 touchdowns. Bryant Johnson is another big target who should make a big impact as a no.3 receiver. The offensive line is young and how well they play should be the difference of a win or loss for the Cardinals.
Defense: The defense wasn’t as bad as the numbers indicate as the Cardinals force lots of turnovers. Chike Okeafor is getting up in age but really turned it on late in the season getting 6.5 sacks in the last month. The defensive tackle position is very young and could have a hard time considering they play both Frank Gore and Steven Jackson twice a year. Bertrand Berry could still have an impact at linebacker and could get pressure on the quarterback. Karlos Dansby is turning into a pro bowl linebacker as he is becoming one of the leaders of the defense. Antrel Rolle and Eric Green are both young at corner but could end up becoming solid starters down the road. The star of the defense is safety Adrian Wilson who is the leader of the defense and is an up and coming star in the league.
Fantasy Studs: Edgerrin James RB: James didn’t play his best last season but Whisenhunt runs a very run oriented attack and James should get back to form. He should be a solid no.2 back heading into this season for your fantasy team.
Anquan Boldin WR: Boldin is a lock for loads of yards when healthy and expect nothing less this year. Now that Matt Leinart is more experienced Boldin should be used as a low no.1 receiver or a high no.2 for your fantasy team.
Larry Fitzgerald WR: Fitzgerald could be an even better fantasy receiver than Boldin as he gets yards and is a great red zone target. If he is healthy you should expect around 1,200 yards and double digit touchdowns. Fitzgerald should definitely be used as a no.1 receiver for your fantasy team.
Prediction: The Cardinals have the talent to be a good team but they are a few years away. Once the team gets used to Ken Whisenhunt’s scheme and the running game improves, the Cardinals could be a serious contender in the NFC. My prediction is 6-10 and 4th place in the division.

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