Lining them up front

Posted by Darren Urban on April 4, 2011 – 2:05 pm

Inevitably, most of the talk with the draft and the Cardinals has been about pass rushers and quarterbacks, as it should be. Those remain the two greatest areas of need. But, as many of you have pointed out before, offensive line is a unit that cannot be ignored. How the Cardinals analyze that need could dictate how the draft plays out (assuming, right now, that there is no free agency period before the draft).

Center Lyle Sendlein and guards Alan Faneca and Deuce Lutui all have expired contracts. I think the Cards feel good about bringing Sendlein back. Faneca and Lutui are much bigger unknowns. Faneca is wanted back, but he is considering retirement. Lutui is considering a fat contract, and the fact he hasn’t gotten one in Arizona yet could ultimately lead him to take an offer elsewhere.

Without knowing what the free agent rules will be, it’s impossible to know exactly what free agents will be available. It’s safe to say Levi Brown will remain at tackle – I assume on the left side; there is no reason to think otherwise – while Brandon Keith is going to have to show he is better than veteran Jeremy Bridges at the other tackle. The reason the Cards signed Rex Hadnot to a three-year deal was for exactly this scenario, and he can step in if there ends up a guard vacancy.

(It’s weird to be talking about a potential offensive lineman depth shortage, after the Cards collected so many last year that they were forced to trade long-time starter Reggie Wells to relieve the logjam.)

The Cards aren’t going to go offensive lineman with their first pick, but after that, I could see it at any point. Finding someone to begin grooming – a la Keith – now that Herman Johnson has left seems crucial. There seems to be some line depth in the draft, especially at tackle, again with the knowledge decent interior guys can often be found later or undrafted.

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31 Responses to “Lining them up front”

  1. By D on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    My draft picks for AZ:
    1) V. Miller OLB
    2) M. Wilson ILB IL
    3) C. Boling G Georgia
    4) J. Brown CB Colorado

    Interior lineman will be a need-also don’t forget Hayes is going to be gone and Lennon is in his 30’s, so grooming another ILB will be important too.

  2. By CZarr on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    Anyone you think the organization has their eyes on the second draft day, or maybe someone you think we could use?

  3. By Darren Urban on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    CZarr —

    RE: Second day

    So many variables. Much will have to do with who is on the board, who has slipped, and what position was taken in the first round.

  4. By Kent on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    Only once in the Whis Grimm tenure has an Offensive Lineman been drafted before the fifth round. Will it happen this year? Only time will tell, but my gut tells me no.

  5. By Joe Holst on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    How did Reggie Wells perform in Philly, was he worth a 6th round pick?

  6. By Darren Urban on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    Joe Holst —

    RE: Reggie Wells

    Reggie appeared in eight games for Philly, starting only the finale.

  7. By Mark in Chandler on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    I think that sometime in the first 4 rounds that an interior lineman will be taken. Pouncy is a 2nd rd option if there. Boling is a possibility in the 3rd. A great value would be Moffit if he makes it to the 4th round. He is a LG that I think could be starting this year as a rookie. Wisniewski and Claiborne might be 4-5 round options. There are always RT-types who could be either a guard or a tackle. One is Cannon. I just don’t see his feet as a tackle but he would be a great right guard. He would need a year to be starter ready. Ziemba is another tackle that might excel as guard.

    Ijalana has potential as a Right or left tackle and could be there in the mid rounds. Other mid round options at tackle might be Barksdale or Carpenter. Both are solid options.

    I think they give Keith another year to prove himself at RT. They may look at a a Tackle in the later rounds but I think thier mid-round OL focus will be finding value at interior OL

    Other positions I would look at are TE and MIKE ILB but that discussion is for another post.

  8. By carlo7000 on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    i am very happy that mario harvey ILB from marshall (5’11 257 RUN 4.46)will have a private workout for cardinals.He is a super sleeper..he can be our next hightower breaston you know somehing about him??

  9. By Darren Urban on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    Carlo —

    RE: Harvey

    To be honest, I have never heard of him.

  10. By AndyStandsUp on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    ILB(if Hayes doesn’t come back which Darren has inferred, leaves Washington, Lenon and Reggie Walker), IMO, is more urgent than OL but unless the Cards are convinced about Martez Wilson or Quan Sturdivant, no one else rates higher than third round.
    Offensive line could realistically be the second round pick- unless the lockout is lifted and a trade for a veteran QB is allowed.

  11. By Bill L on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    LOL! I’m sure Kolb is praying for SF.

  12. By jason on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply


    I was wondering with all the accountability talk this off season from players to coaches and no one getting away with getting by on there past performances was
    there ever a consideration to relieve Russ Grimm of his offensive line duties since there has not been an improvement over the time he has been coaching them.

  13. By Darren Urban on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    Jason —

    RE: Grimm

    As far as I know, firing Grimm was never considered.

  14. By Javi on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    darren do you believe that the cardinals will indeed have another lineman starting in nexts years o line that is not in the cards roster last year?

  15. By Darren Urban on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    Javi —

    RE: OLine starter

    Good question. As of right now, I’m going to say no.

  16. By joel on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    Darren can you discuss the pros and cons of last years draft and let us know who has worked out and who’s is on their way out. I thought last years draft was good but I have yet to see the much analysis on it.

  17. By Darren Urban on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    Joel —

    RE: 2010 draft

    First of all, you can’t judge a draft (usually) after one year. In most cases, the first full offseason a player gets between his rookie and second year is the most important. (Which is why losing this offseason hurts so much).

    NT Dan Williams and ILB Daryl Washington both flashed at times and I expect both to continue to grow and be starters in 2011. That’s necessary.

    WR Andre Roberts had a horrible start but rallied. I think there is a chance he could develop into a No. 2, and that’s actually what he was playing late in the season.

    OLB O’Brien Schofield did well considering his knee injury. His progress/development is probably one of the most interesting storylines for this coming year.

    QB John Skelton still has a chance to develop and at this point, the Cards are encouraged where he is.

    CB Jorrick Calvin was traded.

    TE Jim Dray got playing time. I don’t know how much upside he has, but he’ll be around for now on special teams and potentially in the mix at TE.

  18. By brandon on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    dear darren do you think the cardinals will pick up casey matthews with the 2nd round?

  19. By Darren Urban on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    Brandon —

    RE: Casey Matthews

    From everything I have seen, the second round may be high for Matthews.

  20. By Jeff Gollin on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    I’ve come to the conclusion that depth is an illusion.

    A position is “deep” until it isn’t. And that can happen as fast as you can say: “MCL.”

    Grading out our O-line, there isn’t a position across the starting 5 that doesn’t need significant improvement. Levi Brown did not play errorless football last season. Faneca is “iffy” – either on the back-9 of his career or gone altogether. We’ve gotten good mileage out Sendlein. The TV image of Deuce Lutui, after a play, strutting around after being flagged for a miscue or allowing his QB to be squashed like a bug. And there were more than a couple of times when you’d see Brandon Keith (who still has to come back from injury) standing around with no one to block.

    We can try and kid ourselves all we want that “our starting OL really isn’t all that bad”, but, even if it isn’t, it isn’t all that good either.

    That said – I like our backup depth. But – because of deficiencies on our starting unit, our overall OL depth is highly suspect.

    All of which leads up to my point – We need to improve the quality and depth of our offensive line. Forget about so-called “logjams” (Doesn’t Wiz say he believes in competition everywhere)?

    It’s a strange draft year for offensive linemen – there are few if any prospects likely to break into the Top 10 (maybe even the Top 15), but once you draft from the blue chip plateau, the draft pool is deep in OT’s, OG’s and even a few centers who look like they can play well in the pros.

    I wouldn’t be shocked or dismayed if the Cards tried to cherry-pick a Sherrod or Ijalana at #38 or someone like Moffitt or Hudson later on in the draft.

    Part of the reason, our young QB’s couldn’t get out of the ditch last season was because they were busier running for their lives than they were looking downfield and going thru their progressions.

    Part of this team’s MO since the days of Dierdorf, Banks and Dobler has been a cavalier attitude toward rebuilding the O-line into a truly dominant force. You gotta start somewhere. Maybe this will be the year.

  21. By toddCARDS on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    hey darren, do u know how high whiz is on faneca after last season? do u actually see him sticking around or is he gonna be watching games from the couch next season?

  22. By Darren Urban on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    toddCards —

    RE: Faneca

    I think they want him back and if he did come back, he’d probably be in line to start unless he was beaten out. He could still retire however.

  23. By Voice of Reason on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    The Cards have been deficient at center for years. Pouncey excluded, the general rule was historically that the best center in the draft can be had in the second round. Think LaCharles Bentley.

    This OL class is weak at the top end – unlike in most years, we almost certainly won’t see an offensive lineman get picked in the top 10, perhaps even the top 15. There are, however, a few guys with talent that will be there in Round 2. And since Hadnot can play center, I’d look at the best guard/center we can find.

    And remember — I think there is a genuine shot that Ryan Mallett could be there in Round 2.

    If he is, do you take him?

  24. By Voice of Reason on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    On qb trade scenarios – Peter King this morning mentioned the possibility that Cincinnati could entertain a trade for a third round pick in 2012 that would go to a #2 if Palmer met certain success goals.

    That’s a no brainer to me.

  25. By VS-Cardinals on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    I’ m not impressed with Levi Brown; to me he takes too many plays off, not to mention he will just bump you once and call it a play. So that area is a weak one to me.

  26. By silverio on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    If all Card’s QB’s looks so bad and a good running back, not a first rounder in my opinion, but still a good RB, like Beanie Wells looks horrible isn’t it possible that the whole OL stinks?

  27. By George Cox on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    Why are we foolin’round..Mr B. will not pay the cash for the QB so that will come in later rounds. Miller is what I think,defense will be the pick if not Miller.

  28. By brad oneill on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    I think losing Herman was a big mistake. I know he was a bit heavy but the man is a beast and will probably grow into a great lineman. I was surprised when he was dropped to the practice squad so maybe the coaches saw something in him that made him much more expendable than he looked on paper.

    Duece was definitely hurt by being dropped to second string for all of pre season. That may have been his own fault but the team hurt themselves disciplining him. i hope he comes in lean and strong this year but unfortunately without a preseason he could be in real trouble weight wise.

    faneca will be better this year if he returns he seemed much more comfortable at the end of the year.

    Levi brown- Keep your fingers crossed he just may get it this year. I strongly suspect its his last chance this year.

    senlien- I love over achievers, if he comes back i think we address other areas first.

  29. By cardsalltheway on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    Darren says, speaking about offensive linemen…
    “There seems to be some line depth in the draft, especially at tackle…”
    Do you think “depth” is more important than quality? According to Mike Mayock, he says the “quality” at the offensive tackle(OT) position isn’t what it was last year…

  30. By Scott H on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    Joe Holst –

    People in Philly don’t even know who Reggie wells is. Seriously. The Eagles had a lot of problems along their 0-line last year and Wells STILL made little to no impact. Given that he was viewed as a real up and comer at one time here in Arizona, he has really been a disappointment. I didn’t really like that trade at the time, but…he just did nothing last year in Philly.

  31. By DoblerFan on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    I like the idea of OL with the 2nd pick. He hopefully would start at RT his rookie year and later move to LT depending on L. Brown development or team status.

    Given that the 5 top tier OL will probably be off the board by the time we pick in the 2nd rd. (T. Smith, A. Castonzo, G. Carimi, D. Sherrod, and N. Solder), we prob will have to decide if OL/G types like B. Ijalana or D. Watkins are worth it.

    It looks more and more like OLB V. Miller might be gone before our 1st pick. If so, we might be looking for that OLB pash rusher like J. Houston, B. Reed, S. Acho, or B. Carter with the 2nd pick. Of course they could make me happy and grab R. Quinn at 5.

    Voice – I don’t think you should ever draft a QB (like Mallett) that can’t outrun his OL. He sure can chuck it though.

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