The Arizona Cardinals will play their 89th season for the NFL this year, along with their 21st season in the state of Arizona. The Cardinals finished their 2007 season with a score of 8-8; far from consequential, but it’s actually a marked improvement since 2006, where they finished last in the NFC West with a 5-11 record. This will be the second year for head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who began coaching in 2007. Although last year wasn’t exactly a winning season, management was probably impressed by how quickly Whisenhunt improved the team. Whisenhunt is known for his brilliant offensive plays, as well as his success in Pittsburgh as that team’s offensive coordinator.
The team’s draft picks would be a big part of predicting the season. Early on, the team was looking to fill some key positions, including offensive tackle, due to unimpressive results from Oliver Ross and the loss of Leonard Davis. Linebacker was another important position, as most of the team members playing so far haven’t gotten used to the role. Cornerback was another position the team had to consider before the 2008 draft. In addition to these necessities, the team felt the pressure of history, as its last four drafts were rated excellent and left many quality starters and backups.
The team’s draft began with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a cornerback out of Tennessee State University. He was followed by University of Miami defensive end Calais Campbell, Louisiana State University wide receiver Early Doucet and University of Iowa defensive end Kenny Iwebema. Rounding out the list was University of Richmond running back Tim Hightower, defensive end Chris Harrington of Texas A&M University and offensive tackle Brandon Keith of the University of Northern Iowa.
What was the media reaction to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? Uncertain, although he was declared a first-round potential due to his performance in the Senior Bowl. Of course, some argue that most receivers in the Senior Bowl are missing. Pundits agree that if Rodgers-Cromartie is going to help the team, he really needs to develop at a fast pace. At least Rodgers-Cromartie was a popular pick-Campbell was less well received, as he doesn’t seem to fit in well with Whisenhunt’s defensive strategies thus far. The bottom line is that many of the team’s draft picks need to be introduced and developed quickly if they hope to make a difference in Arizona.
The biggest problem is that among these draft picks there are no safe playmakers and that may be a risk the team can’t afford to take. Also, they have strong competition this season against the St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks. It should be noted, however, that under Ken Whisenhunt, the Cardinals have already improved their score; 8-8 may not be a major league yet, but it’s the team’s best record since 1998. Whisenhunt obviously has a game plan in 2008 and the Cardinals’ resurrection may be starting slowly but surely.