May 11, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd during rookie mini camp at the Cardinals practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NFL Preview: Arizona Cardinals

Our preview of the NFL has finally reached the NFC West, and I’ve decided to start with the Arizona Cardinals. Last season, the Cardinals looked like they might have a shot at one of the draft’s top QBs when they started 1-6, but then they hot really hot and finished the year at 8-8.

On a programming note, at the conclusion of the NFC West, we’re going to be done with our team by team previews “for the most part.” We will have completed just over two thirds of the NFL teams. The problem is that getting people who cover the remaining teams to assist me is becoming troublesome. Many are on vacation resting up before the season starts.

I could put these together myself, but my knowledge of team’s outside the division isn’t strong enough for me to do them justice. I’d prefer to skip them instead of generating sub-par previews for my loyal readers. I’ll keep trying, and I’ll post them if any come in, but I’m not expecting too many.

Helping me out this time around is  Scott Allen from Raising Zona.

Biggest Team Need Heading Into Offseason:  OL and WR help

Key Free Agents Retained:  LB Clark Haggans, DE Vonnie Holliday, WR Early Doucet, K Jay Feely, P Dave Zastudil, CB Greg Toler, RB LaRod Stephens-Howling

Key Player Additions: OL Adam Snyder, CB William Gay

Key Players Leaving: OL Deuce Lutui, CB Richard Marshall

Quick Thoughts on Draft:  Cardinals scored a home run with WR Michael Floyd.  All picks have a legitimate chance to make the team.  Floyd has great leaping ability and will be a great number two on other side of field from Larry Fitzgerald.  They also got a steal in the fourth round with OL Bobby Massie.

Quick Thoughts on 2012 schedule:  Much tougher than 2011.  They will not be able to start 1-6 and finish 8-8 like they did last season with the 2012 schedule.  Tough road games against New England, New York Jets, and Minnesota.  Not to mention divisional rivals San Francisco and Seattle.

Most Interesting Roster Battle:  QB.  Unsettled with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.  Although coach Ken Whisenhunt has not named a starter and won’t do so until training camp, he has made it publicly known he would like Kolb to take the reins and get the starters role.  He has said though he will have no reservations starting Skelton if he ends up being the better QB.

Biggest Strength Heading Into 2012:  With the drafting of Floyd and re-signing of Doucet who will get yet one more chance to prove himself, WR is strong again.  On defense the LB core no doubt is the strongest, especially in the middle with Daryl Washington and Sam Acho.

Biggest Weakness Heading Into 2012:  OL – still unknown what the acquisition of Snyder will do for them in addition to the re-siging of Levi Brown, who I sill hold a big question mark over.  Massie could be great over time.

Biggest Question Still To Be Answered:  Who will win the quarterback position and can Kolb and/or Skelton throw them the ball accurately.  The other big question is will RB Ryan Williams make a full return from his preseason ACL injury last year, an injury that took him out before he even played his first ever regular season game.

2012 Prediction:  9-7, 2nd in NFC West, Wild-Card team

I have a tough time seeing the Cardinals as an improved team. Their offensive line and QB situations are dicey, and if without having 2 things set, the Cards just wont get as much as they should from their great receivers. Thats why the Michael Floyd was a head scratcher of a pick. He’s a great talent, but the Cards already had great receivers and they needed help in a lot of other areas.

The defense is similar. There’s talent there, especially at LB. But without the DL to go along with it, the LBs wont be as productive as the could be. Basically my problem is just roster construction philosophy. I believe you always start with the lines, and those are units that the Cardinal front office has neglected in favor for less essential areas.

I’m really not trying to be a Seahawk homer here, just give an honest assessment of their roster how I see it. I’m sure the Cardinal fans will roast me for this, and that’s ok. It what I expect from our rivals from Scottsdale.

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Tags: Arizona Cardinals Cardinals Kevin Kolb Michael Floyd

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