Cardinals Rookie Most Likely to...

Although there were a few surprises along the way, the Cardinals 2008 draft class shows tremendous promise. The addition of 13 undrafted free agents further solidifies the Cardinals collection of young talent. While all players boast long-term potential, many exhibit the ability to make an immediate impact. Brad Wilbricht makes his rookie predictions in this AZRedReport.com exclusive.

Rookie most likely to make an immediate impact: WR Early Doucet

While Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Calais Campbell will be given ample opportunities to contribute this season, Doucet could make the biggest splash. Doucet displays excellent potential as a slot receiver and should quickly adapt to the Cardinals third wide receiver role. Doucet is a well seasoned prospect, playing against top-level competition in the SEC Conference at LSU. Furthermore, he should benefit from playing behind Pro Bowl receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Doucet has expressed his admiration for Boldin, and has already developed a learning relationship.

Rookie most likely to surprise: RB Tim Hightower

Although Hightower wasn't an overwhelmingly popular pick in the fifth-round, he quickly demonstrated his ability during mini camp. Hightower showed tremendous acceleration and versatility out of the backfield. With RB J.J. Arrington's future in Arizona uncertain, Hightower could be third on the depth chart by the beginning of the season. While his most significant contributions will likely come down the road, Hightower could potentially step in and produce this season if needed. In addition, he should gain valuable experience backing up veterans Edgerrin James and Marcel Shipp.

Rookie most likely to step-up on defense: LB Chris Harrington

While Harrington was the Cardinals final draft pick on the defensive side of the ball, he could end up being the biggest contributor this season. Harrington features the necessary attributes to successfully move from defensive end to linebacker. His experience at Texas A&M should allow for a smooth transition to the Cardinals 3-4 defense. Although the Cardinals loaded up on DE/OLB hybrids this offseason, Harrington provides an unmatched burst as an edge pass rusher. Look for Harrington to excel as a pass-rushing specialist early in the season as he grows into a more expanded role down the line.

Rookie most likely to contribute on special teams: LB Ali Highsmith

The Cardinals selected four defenders in the draft, but undrafted free agent Highsmith has the best chance to immediately contribute on special teams. Highsmith is a versatile player with excellent awareness. He possesses the required tools to thrive on special teams. Highsmith is undersized at the linebacker position, but compensates with outstanding instincts. Like Doucet, Highsmith is well prepared for the NFL after competing in the SEC Conference at LSU. If Highsmith progresses during training camp, he could see additional action at linebacker in a backup role.

Rookie most likely to struggle: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Rodgers-Cromartie arguably boasts more potential than any cornerback in the draft, but he also may experience the longest learning curve. Along with needing to add bulk, Rodgers-Cromartie will face a difficult transition from tiny Tennessee St University to the NFL. Rodgers-Cromartie does have the luxury of learning behind incumbent starters Rod Hood and Eric Green, but he'll undoubtedly feel pressure to see the field quickly as the teams top draft pick. While many have already slotted Rodgers-Cromartie in as the teams starting nickel back, it may not happen until midway through the season.


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