The preseason is all but over and outside of a few last-minute roster decisions and possible waiver additions, the Cardinals along with the rest of the NFL are pretty well set for the regular season.
That means we’ve had plenty of time to assess the depth and talent at different positions across the roster including a few pleasant surprises (Jaron Brown and Kenny Demens) and a few disappointments (Jonathan Cooper and Kevin Minter). Let’s breakdown the top three perceived strengths and weaknesses on the Cardinals roster.
1. Depth at wide receiver
As a Cardinals fan I can honestly say the Cardinals have never had a more talented crop of receivers top to bottom on their roster before. I’m not saying they will have three 1,000 yard receivers like they did with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston in 2008, but they legitimately have seven NFL receivers on their roster right now and five who have 1,000 yard potential with enough opportunity.
Fitzgerald is still a top 10-15 receiver in the NFL, Floyd is continuing to progress and is entering that realm, Ted Ginn Jr. is a playmaker coming off his best receiving year, John Brown is a phenom and speed demon who strikes fear into the hearts of defensive coordinators and Jaron Brown has shown the most improvement of any player on the roster over the past year.
Brittan Golden and Walt Powell could make about any NFL roster too.
2. Secondary depth
The Cardinals have a top-five corner in the NFL who is only getting better in Patrick Peterson, complimented by a now healthy perennial Pro Bowler and elite playmaker in Antonio Cromartie. They also have a budding superstar (let’s pray he doesn’t came back before he’s truly ready) at nickel cornerback and free safety in Tyrann Mathieu. They drafted the potential second coming of Adrian Wilson in Deone Bucannon who is making gargantuan strides each week and flashing his hard hitting, space eating potential. They also have a freak athlete and vastly improved Justin Bethel at corner (who has had the best offseason of any corner according to Bruce Arians), two solid fringe starter caliber safeties in Tony Jefferson and Rashad Johnson and an experienced corner in Jerraud Powers.
Although the front seven may take a minor step back, the secondary appears primed to pick up the slack in 2014.
3. Playmakers on each side of the ball
One of the Cardinals main concerns last season, especially on the offensive side of the ball, was a lack of playmakers who could change the game with a huge play. This season on offense alone they have three guys who can break off an 80 yard touchdown at anytime: Andre Ellington, John Brown and Ted Ginn. Add in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd who averaged 16 yards per (catch last season (tied for sixth in the NFL last season with players with 50 or more catches) and you have elite big play ability all over the field.
Defensively they lost two elite playmakers in Karlos Dansby (bolted to Cleveland) and Daryl Washington (suspended for a year by the league), but still have three elite playmakers in the secondary in Peterson, Mathieu and Cromartie.
Although the Cardinals have some questions and potential weaknesses in other areas including middle linebacker, running back depth and pass rushing ability, having your two deepest areas be the two that require the most depth in today’s NFL, receiver and cornerback, is never a bad thing.