Visiting Day: Offensive Line

The offensive line was a point of consternation with the Cardinals last season. Al Johnson has already signed on the dotted line. Who else came in for a visit?

Current Bills offensive lineman Mike Gandy came in for a visit with the Cardinals recently.  He left without a contract, unlike recent free agent signing Al Johnson (formerly of the Cowboys), but he certainly fits into what Arizona (especially Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt) is looking to do with this much maligned unit.

Gandy, at 6'4", 310 is undersized to play tackle, but has played both guard and tackle for the Bills and Bears throughout his seven year NFL career.  Surprisingly, he's only 28.

In all honesty, Gandy's versatility is more important than his actual skills (though it seems difficult to imagine someone being markedly worse than any of the current starters along the offensive line).  One of the things Whisenhunt mentioned at the Combine was that he is specifically looking to build quality depth along the offensive line. 

It would be a gross understatement to say that Arizona has lacked that the last few years and a gross overstatement to affix the "quality" adjective to anyone currently employed as a blocker by the Arizona Cardinals football club.

From a depth perspective, Gandy would actually be a sizeable acquisition for the Cardinals.  With Johnson now on the roster, their depth chart would read like so:

Johnson (pure center, started 31 consecutive games at one point for Dallas).

Nick Leckey (played both guard and center).

Alex Stepanovich (has played both guard and center).

Deuce Lutui (can play either guard position).

Milford Brown (can play either guard position).

Reggie Wells (has played both guard and tackle, finishing at right tackle last season).

Oliver Ross (was the starting right tackle for the Steelers when Whisenhunt and Grimm coached there, but his best football is likely behind him).

Elton Brown (still waiting for him to develop into a quality guard after coming into the 2005 draft with a reputation as a solid inline blocker and a road grader).

Add Gandy to the mix and everyone but Ross and Johnson can play more than one position.  That's depth, versatility, and... perhaps some quality.  Most importantly, there's a lot of youth.  Gandy would actually be the oldest member of the line after Ross.

Of course, there's one off-season acquisition that still needs to be brought into the discussion: Russ Grimm.  Give Grimm this much depth, this much versatility, and he'll pick the five best guys.  He'll coach them and suit them up to play to the best of their ability.  How much ability (once again, the operative word is quality) these guys have remains to be seen.

However, in addition to depth and versatility, there's potential.  And hope.  Something that has dried up in the desert over the past few years.


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