Secondary Comes Full Circle: Ranking the DB's

The Cardinals secondary once had more in common with today's tight end unit than it would like to think. The secondary was plagued with injuries and poor performances, much like the tight ends of today. Headed into the 2009 season, and fresh off a Super Bowl run, Arizona's secondary is shaping up to be the unit to beat. ranks the DB's who could bring Arizona back to Super Sunday.

12. CB Wilrey Fontenot: The former University of Arizona standout has the biggest climb to reach success with the Cardinals, but the former seventh-rounder will get a shot, which is more than could be said for a lot of guys.

11. CB Michael Adams: The third-year player has been able to tack on a few tackles here and there. Look for him to do the same in 2009.

10. FS Matt Ware: Ware has been in red since 2006. He spent two years in Philadelphia prior to his desert stay. Over five years, he's racked up 82 tackles. Will 2009 be the year he gets his first NFL pick? Maybe not, but he is valuable on special teams.

9. SS Keith Lewis: The sixth-year player has had his time in the sun when he started 13 games for the San Francisco 49ers over five years. Lewis is a welcomed addition and definitely has a chance of stealing playing time from Francisco.

8. SS Aaron Francisco: The fifth-year defensive back should appear in most of the games this season if Lewis doesn't get his way. He's been a quiet yet consistent member of the Cardinals secondary. Last year, he registered 56 tackles while appearing in all 16 games. He even nabbed an interception in the postseason.

7. CB Greg Toler: The rookie agreed to a three-year, $1.5 million deal that includes a $316,000 signing bonus. Toler, the team's fourth-round pick, fields comparisons to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Both are very fast and came from smaller college programs. Film study will need to be a big focus for Toler.

6. CB Ralph Brown: The 10-year veteran needs to be playoffs ready every game this regular season to secure playing time. He was in rare form in the playoffs with a pair of picks and two pass defensed. He's a locker room guy who the youngsters can learn a lot from. .

5. FS Rashad Johnson: The Alabama safety fell to the third round. The Cardinals couldn't have been happier. Johnson was too good to pass up. He will be an immediate contributor on special teams. Johnson has a more than legitimate chance of becoming a NFL starter.

4. FS Antrel Rolle: The soon-to-be fifth-year player will need to make the full integration to safety this season. The learning curve is over, and he needs to produce.

3. CB Bryant McFadden: The Pittsburgh Steelers-transplant comes to Arizona with a full plate. He will replace Roderick Hood. McFadden needs to be ready to smart. He's started 18 games in four years.

2. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: The 2008 first-round selection signified an investment in the secondary. The Cardinals were lucky to nab him. In his first year, he compiled four regular season interceptions and two post season picks. Rodgers-Cromartie is the future of the Cardinals secondary.

1. SS Adrian Wilson: The prolific strong safety means more to the Arizona Cardinals than his hard-hitting ability and Pro Bowl nods. He is the longest-tenured player on the roster for a reason. When he signed his five-year $39 million deal, he cemented his desire to retire in red. Wilson's leadership, talent and team-first attitude will be the primary reason for secondary success.

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