Cornerbacks Off-season Analysis

The Cardinals will not cut corners when it comes to quality depth. Arizona could use its first-round pick on a defensive back for the second time in three years. Arizona could consider a local draft prospect who can create turnovers without additional whistles for the penalty-prone Cardinals.

The Cardinals allowed opponents to pass for 232 yards and score 24 points a game last season. It is a new year and their defensive resolution is simple: stop the pass. The cornerbacks will have to bear the cross of the pledge.

Eric Green is scheduled to be a restricted free agent. He didn't do much to help his market value last season, missing five games with a groin injury and failing to snap an interception for the second consecutive season. Despite modest numbers, the 2005 third-round pick is still considered an ascending player.

Splitting time with Green at the right corner is Antrel Rolle, whose inconsistencies are only slightly offset by his takeaways. He nabbed five interceptions this season and turned three of them into touchdowns. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt is considering moving Rolle to free safety, which would mask his deficiencies in man-to-man coverage.

Manning the left side is Roderick Hood, a solid corner who earned a handful of career-highs this season. His personal records included: most interceptions (5); most touchdowns (2); most pass breakups (21); and most tackles (57). Hood has three years left on his $15-million contract.

Dime back Ralph Brown is an unrestricted free agent who is unlikely to return. The eight-year veteran has only four career interceptions, a testament to his marginal ball skills.

After Brown is Michael Adams, who was elevated from the practice squad when Green went down. Adams earned 10 tackles in seven games and improved as the season progressed. He will be one to watch in camp.

Bird Watching

Despite the presence of 2005 draftees Rolle and Green, the secondary went into last off-season with major depth issues. The despair looms once again. Another No. 1 pick on a cornerback seems like overkill, but the Cardinals are in no position to dismiss the idea.

Antoine Cason is the lead runner in the popularity contest. The Cardinals need to keep their eyes and ears open because Cason is a hot commodity. He decided to forego the 2007 draft and stick it out with the University of Arizona his senior year. On the field, Cason physically outmatches receivers and avoids pass-interference calls. His patience can only help the Cardinals, who tied for the most penalties in the league (118).

Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of several NFL players for Sixthman Communications.


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