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 ended their 2007 season with a score of 8-8; far from transcendent but actually a notable improvement from 2006 where they finished last place in the NFC West with a 5-11 record. This year will be the second for head coach Ken Whisenhunt who started coaching in 2007. Though last year wasn’t exactly a winning season, management was probably impressed at how quickly Whisenhunt improved the team. Whisenhunt is known for his brilliant offensive plays as well as his success in Pittsburgh serving as that team’s offensive coordinator.
The team’s draft picks would be an important part to predicting the season. Early on, the team was looking to fill a few key positions, including an offensive tackle, because of unimpressive results from Oliver Ross and with the loss of Leonard Davis. The linebacker was another important position, as most team members playing thus far haven’t warmed up to the role. Cornerback was another position that the team had to consider going into the 2008 draft. In addition to these needs, the team felt the pressure of history, as their last four drafts have been rated as excellent and let to many quality starters and backups.
The team’s draft started with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a cornerback from Tennessee State University. He was followed by defensive end Calais Campbell of the University of Miami, wide receiver Early Doucet from Louisiana State University and Kenny Iwebema, a defensive end from the University of Iowa. Round out the list were running back Tim Hightower from the University of Richmond, defensive end Chris Harrington from Texas A&M University and offensive tackle Brandon Keith from the University of Northern Iowa.
What was the media’s reaction to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? Uncertain, though he was declared first-round stock potential because of his performance at the Senior Bowl. Of course, some argue that most of the receivers at the Senior Bowl we’re lacking. Experts agree that if Rodgers-Cromartie is to help the team, he really needs to be developed at a fast pace. At least Rodgers-Cromartie was a popular choice-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 choices have to be introduced quickly and developed quickly if they hope to make a difference in Arizona.
The biggest problem is that among these draft choices there are no sure-thing playmakers and that may be a risk the team cannot afford to make. Plus, they have some heavy competition this season against the St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks. It should be noted though that under the management of Ken Whisenhunt, the Cardinals have already improved their score; 8-8 may not be major league yet, but it is the team’s best record since 1998. Whisenhunt obviously has a strategy in 2008 and the resurrection of the Cardinals may be starting slowly but surely.