NEEDS RATING KEY
5.0 - High priority. This is a position that is a glaring weakness and there is the likelihood that this team cannot compete next year without making a major addition here.
4.0 - Medium Priority. This is an area that is an obvious weakness, but the team isn't quite desperate to make a major move here possibly because they have some young potential. But this is an area that if the team cannot fix via free agency, will definitely use one of their picks in the first three or four rounds to supplement.
3.0 - Upgrade Potential. This is a position that isn't a weakness per se, but there is significant room for an upgrade. If the right player comes along they will certainly snag him, but if they don't fix this position with a major free agent addition or early round pick, then it's not the end of the world.
2.0 - Depth Need. An area where there is a need to add depth. Perhaps there is an aging veteran and they might want to start to look at grooming his heir apparent or replacement. Not likely to be a high priority and a position that more than likely will be address in the middle and late rounds rather than with a top pick.
1.0 - Future Need. This is an area that is not a priority, and doesn't initially appear as a need. But there is some room to develop some depth for perhaps two or more years down the line. This is usually an area that a team will look at in the late rounds if at all.
0.0 - Non-need. This is a position that is a strength of their team, they have a solid starter, capable depth, and/or a young player at the position that they like and want to develop. Very little possibility this area is addressed and would be the equivalent of a wasted draft pick.
Top 7 Needs
1. QB - 4.5
2. LB - 4.0
3. OT - 3.5
4. OG - 3.0
5. CB - 2.0
6. DT - 2.0
7. TE - 2.0
Position by Position Breakdown
Quarterback - While nobody would say John Skelton has been good down the stretch, he's been fairly steady, and that's all the Cardinals are looking for at the position. At least to a point where they may not believe that the cupboard is completely bare at this position, giving them the leeway to target a veteran passer this off-season instead of starting from scratch with a first round draft pick. A player like Donovan McNabb or Matt Hasselbeck will likely have the most appeal if they become available, but with a likely Top 5 pick, they will also be in a position to get one of the two or three best quarterbacks in the draft class. But knowing Arizona, and the pressure to return the playoffs will likely be felt by the coaching staff, I suspect they will err on the side of the veteran. NEED: 4.5
Running Back - The Cardinals had high hopes that the running game provided by Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells would offset their lack of strong QB play this year. They were wrong. Wells has battled injuries and Hightower fumbles throughout the year, making neither player or a combination of either player a reliable duo to depend on. Both are still talented backs, but with Hightower's long-term future in doubt, it wouldn't be surprising if they used a late round pick on depth and insurance for the future. NEED: 1.0
Fullback - Reagan Maui'a is not what most would consider a long-term prospect at this position, but he's a serviceable starter. The Cardinals could address this spot with a late round pick, but have had a bit more success with trolling through the waiver wire and veteran ranks. It's not a huge need since they can use double tight end and three-wide sets. NEED: 1.5
Wide Receiver - Despite underwhelming seasons from Fitzgerald, Breaston, and Doucet, the Cardinals really can't be overly concerned here simply because of the shoddy quarterback play. Andre Roberts has been a pleasant surprise as of late as a rookie, giving the team four solid options in the passing game. Breaston is a free agent and should be one of their top priorities in the off-season. There is very little need here unless they lose Breaston. NEED: 0.0
Tight End - Their offense tends to use the tight end more as a blocker than receiver, but Ben Patrick performs well in both those duties. His contract is also up at the end of the season, so there is some possibility that they let him walk or he leaves on his own fruition. But Patrick fits well into what they do, although there is probably room for an upgrade. If so, I would probably bet that comes via free agency rather than the draft, but the Cardinals probably do need to upgrade their depth behind him. NEED: 2.0
Offensive Tackle - The move of Levi Brown to the left side hasn't met with great success, and Brandon Keith on the right side before he went down with injury also reaped few benefits. Jeremy Bridges has been a bit better in Keith's absence but still far from good. The Cardinals may be best served moving Brown back there next season and drafting a true blue left tackle to protect the blindside of whoever mans the quarterback position next year. NEED: 3.5
Offensive Guard - Deuce Lutui didn't have a great start to this year because of his holdout and weight issues, but the team is expected to want him back this off-season. Alan Faneca is also at the end of a contract year, and he may not be back. If he does return, it'll likely be for a short-term deal near the veteran minimum. If he doesn't return, someone like Rex Hadnot could step in, but he's never really proven himself to be a reliable fixture as a starter. So it's likely they will find someone to replace him, preferably a middle round draft pick that can stick long-term. NEED: 3.0
Center - Lyle Sendlein is also going to be a free agent after this year, but they shouldn't be too concerned about another team snatching him up on the open market. Sendlein isn't very big, but a smart center that they like and will probably be around for a number of years if they can help it. There has been talk in recent years that they could try and upgrade this position with a bigger, more physical player, but if that happens it'll come via a late round pick. NEED: 1.0
Defensive Tackle - Dan Williams didn't have the great start this year as a rookie, but he's shown improvement down the stretch, and the Cardinals weren't going to jump ship as far as his development anyway. The main concern at this position is depth, likely finding a veteran to replace Gabe Watson and Bryan Robinson to split reps with Williams. Watson has been a disappointment as an early round pick, and Robinson is getting old. Both players are hitting the open market, which gives the Cardinals an excuse to find another veteran to back up Williams or to use another latter round draft pick for depth. NEED: 2.0
Defensive End - They have a nice solid pair of players in Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. Their concern if any is really depth, although Alan Branch has been a nice contributor. But they'll likely try and find some depth in the middle or late rounds of the draft to develop some. NEED: 1.5
Linebacker - When the Cardinals used draft picks on Will Davis and Cody Brown two years ago, they thought they had a nice pair of developmental outside linebackers that could handle playing behind the likes of Clark Haggans, Chike Okeafor, and now Joey Porter. But only Davis is left, and has yet to contribute for an entire season. It means it's back to the drawing board in the draft with trying to find some youthful and explosive pass rushers on the edge. Right now, Daryl Washington is the only young guy here that you see as a long-term fix. Gerald Hayes the other starter inside has battled injuries the past two years and his contract is up after 2011. It doesn't seem like the Cardinals are prepared to spend big on him that off-season, so it makes sense for them to try and find his eventual replacement this April in the draft. NEED: 4.0
Cornerback - They like their young pair of corners in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler, and nickel corner Michael Adams has had his moments. But they could try and find another young corner in the draft to push Adams in the future in that role as nickel cornerback or sign a veteran free agent to bolster depth since Adams is overmatched as a starter. NEED: 2.0
Safety - Kerry Rhodes has been one of the few positive changes to the Cardinals from a year ago, and along with Adrian Wilson gives them a solid pair of safeties. Rashad Johnson is starting to come on as a reserve, but has yet to live up to expectations, meaning that they could easily go back into this year's draft and find someone to push him and add depth. NEED: 1.5
Kicker - Jay Feely is a kicker not known for his consitency, but has been a pleasant surprise for the Cardinals this year. He is under contract for the 2011 season, so don't expect anything to change here. NEED: 0.0
Punter - Ben Graham has been a solid addition since joining the team late in the '08 season, but solid is about all you can say about him. With him becoming a free agent at the end of the season, the Cardinals may opt to move on with a younger option since the Australian incumbent is already 37 years old. NEED: 1.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.