Reviewing the draft: Arizona Cardinals

Dennis Green entered his first draft as Arizona Cardinals head coach with needs at almost every position. With the third overall pick Arizona was certain to get at least one premium player. Green was known for taking the highest rated player while running the show in Minnesota yet many of his decision, especially second round choices and beyond, were dubious ones. 

One of the worst kept secrets of this draft was Dennis Green's love affair with receiver Larry Fitzgerald.  Given their history from Fitzgerald's teenage days in Minnesota, his unparalleled skill as a receiver, and Greens wide open offensive style, it was no surprise Fitzgerald was the teams first selection.  Fitzgerald has all of the tools needed to be a successful receiver in the NFL.  He should team with Anquan Bolden and Bryant Johnson to form one of the best young receiving cores in the league.  While he is not a burner his route running and instincts give him excellent football speed and by all appearances Fitzgerald will be a great receiver for many years to come.  At one time Karlos Dansby was considered a potential top fifteen pick on most draft boards but a mediocre senior campaign combined with a poor wonderlik score dropped his ranking.  The athletic linebacker could eventually grow into a great strong side defender but he will likely start his career off as a weak side player.  The biggest knock on Dansby in college was his inability to gain weight.  While he has solid size Dansby needs to be protected in order to maintain his health and maximize his speed.  Darnell Dockett is a Dennis Green kind of player and a great value at the top of the third round.  Dockett, who comes across much better than his reputation allows, can be a one man wrecking crew at defensive tackle.  He is finally showing signs of maturity both on and off the field and having Green as his coach, (a mentor with a knack for handling difficult personalities) should help Dockett continue on his positive path.  Alex Stepanovich is a solid blue collar center.  What he lacks in athleticism he makes up for with effort.  Though he may never be a starter he should provide a solid backup at any of the three interior offensive line spots.  Antonio Smith gives Arizona a developmental defensive end.  While Green loves to find hidden gems at this position Smith is most likely headed for the practice squad.  Nick Leckey is an experienced player that gives Arizona another interior backup.  Unlike Stepanovich, Leckey is athletic enough that he could mature into a starter as he adds bulk and strength to his frame.  John Navarre, like many of his Michigan predecessors, is not considered a great NFL quarterback at this time.  While Navarre has a good feel for the position, and the size scouts like, he does not possess a great arm.  Should Arizona's offensive line develop it is possible Navarre could be an effective quarterback for Arizona based on his intelligent play and his accuracy.

As is his reputation, Dennis Green continues to take the best player available come draft time regardless of his teams needs.  While this draft looked very much like all his previous work in Minnesota, the likable Green may have outdone himself this time.  There should be no fewer than three immediate starters to come out of this draft with the rest capable of the picks eventually developing into first team players in time.  Fitzgerald, Dansby, and Dockett should provide the cornerstone for Arizona to build around as they begin to purge their underachieving first round picks from previous years.


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