Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 5/29/13
The Arizona Cardinals saw from their past season’s 5-11 record that they needed to re-tool if they wanted to compete in the now highly competitive NFC West.  This division, which consists of Super Bowl runner up San Francisco 49ers, NFC Conference Semi-finalist Seattle Seahawks and an up and coming St. Louis Rams are all improving and making noise, which will keep the Cardinals in the basement if they don’t find some new personnel. The question is where do you start? The Cardinals realized they had several areas of needs to fill all over the field, but they knew also knew they had to be selective with these choice in free agency and the NFL Draft to stay competitive for more than one year. They started by picking up some value in trading a 7th round selection for Oakland Raiders QB Carson Palmer, instead of drafting someone in the first round like Geno Smith (selected in Rd 2 by the NY Jets) or over pay for free agent, who would not be any better than what they had last year.  Palmer in 2012 passed for more than 1,000 yards more than the Cardinals did (4,018 for Palmer and 3,005 for the Cardinals), while also throwing twice as many touchdowns (22 to 11) and 50% less interceptions (14 to 21).  If Palmer can have a similar season for the Cardinals, while getting superstar WR Larry Fitzgerald back in the game (who is coming off his worse season stat wise since 2006, when he missed three games) the Cardinals could show why they started 4-0 last season, before losing 11 of their final 12 games. They then filled opening and added depth through the draft and free agency.  Offensive line - They picked up North Carolina OG Jonathan Cooper with the 7th overall selection to line that surrendered a league high 58 QB sacks, but this is still an area of need, which they will have to fill when roster cuts happen as they did not get a tackle on either  side Linebacker – The picked up former Cardinal and Dolphin Karlos Dansby and found a gem in the fourth round with Texas DE/OLB Alex Okafor.  Dansby was a casualty of the Dolphins spending spree, while Okafor slipped for some unknown reason.  These two should help strengthen a team tied for 11th with 38 sacks last season. Running back – They signed underperforming RB  from Pittsburgh Rashard Mendenhall and two surprising value late in the draft in 5th round Stepfan Taylor (Stanford) and 6th round Andre Ellington (Clemson).  Mendenhall is trying to come back from the knee injury which ended his season in 2011, and the two backs that were seen to go much higher, especially Ellington. Secondary – This is one area where they were strong, with 22 interceptions (2nd in the NFL), but they needed depth.  After dropping three veteran players who management saw on their way down, they added Yeremiah Bell (Dolphins), Javier Arenas (Chiefs), Jerraud Powers (Colts), Antoine Carson (Chargers) and then drafted Tyrann Mathieu (former LSU Teammate of current Cardinal All-Pro CB Patrick Patterson).  This is seen as a upgrade to the 2012 team, which was viewed as a strength, and will cause pass heavy teams trouble in 2013. The Cardinals are still a ways away, but with a solid defense led by a very fast secondary, and some luck in finding a couple of tackles to protect Palmer and this could help them challenge the others in the NFC West and get out of the basement.
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