Cardinals need more talent to top 8-8 in '08

Scouts Inc. puts the Cardinals on the clock, breaking down their offseason moves and looking at what questions still need answers.

Originally Published: April 1, 2008
By Doug Kretz | Scouts Inc.

As the NFL draft approaches, "SportsCenter" is putting every NFL team with a first-round pick "On the Clock," and Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.

Free-Agent Tracker
For a complete list of all of the Cardinals' free agents and all their offseason signings, check out Scouts Inc.'s free-agent tracker.
Who they signed
Who they lost
Complete free-agent tracker
The Cardinals took a step forward last season thanks, in part, to an improved defense. However, they need to find more players who fit the 3-4 scheme. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt is working to instill a mental toughness that has been lacking the past few years. He's also trying to develop more of a ball-control offense. Some of the overpriced, high draft choices of the past few years who never panned out are gone. In their place, Arizona is adding overachiever types who have a big desire to win at all costs and are not afraid of hard work. QB Matt Leinart should be back and healthy when training camp starts, and the passing game will likely continue to be the most effective way for the Cardinals to move the ball. However, they have too many weak links at key positions, including cornerback, offensive line, pass-rusher and running back to be considered a playoff lock. But they are getting close and could surprise some people.

Key Additions

They were not major players in free agency. Perhaps the Cardinals' biggest move was not adding a new player, but franchising LB Karlos Dansby. He is part of a good, young linebacking corps. The signing of LB Clark Haggans, a former Steeler, gives Arizona an explosive pass-rusher when blitzing and brings the team one step closer to being able to use the 3-4 front effectively. DE Travis LaBoy, a former Titan, will also help the pass rush, but he can be a liability against the run.

Mock Draft: Cardinals
The Pick (No. 16 overall):
CB Leodis McKelvin, Troy

Todd McShay: Arizona needs to bolster its defensive backfield and the good news for the Cardinals is that they can take the best available safety or corner because Antrel Rolle can line up at either position.
Complete mock draft Insider
Vote: Team needs

Key Losses

The biggest loss was LB Calvin Pace (Jets), who is finally starting to show progress as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Losing inconsistent WR Bryant Johnson (49ers) won't hurt much as the Cardinals still have one of the league's more potent receiving tandems in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Safety Terrence Holt (Panthers), LB Darryl Blackstock (Bengals), DT Chris Cooper (Seahawks) and backup guard Keydrick Vincent (Panthers) are also gone, but they will not be missed much.

Remaining Questions

The Cardinals still have a lot of questions when it comes to getting to the next level. The move of Antrel Rolle from CB to FS leaves an already weak position even weaker. RB Edgerrin James is getting on in years and a young power back could help their ground game. They also need young talent on the offensive line because other than RT Levi Brown, they lack marquee players and are short on depth. The good news is that with the 16th pick in the draft there will be plenty of talent available and they can find a cornerback, offensive lineman (preferably left tackle) or a pass-rusher. Whisenhunt's second year will be key because opponents will have a better idea what to expect schemewise, and the Cardinals must raise their talent level to improve their 8-8 record.

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A career NFL scout, Doug Kretz spent 19 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, one each with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins and three with the Cleveland Browns. A soccer player in college at Seattle Pacific University, Kretz spent four years as football and soccer coach at Newport High School in Bellevue, Wash., before joining the Seahawks.