Following a 13-3 record and a trip to the NFC Championship Game, the Arizona Cardinals were one of the best teams on both sides of the ball last season. But no team is perfect.
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal took a look at every NFC team and labeled each squad’s biggest weakness.
Rosenthal noted the Cardinals “could have the most loaded roster in the NFL. They also have only one offensive tackle that has ever played an NFL game.”
That one offensive tackle is Jared Veldheer, with the rest of the offensive tackle group consisting of two rookies and four guys with one year under their belt, including 2015 first round pick D.J. Humphries. But Rosenthal thinks the Cardinals have a weakness that’s even more glaring.
Justin Bethel, who excelled as a No. 4 cornerback and special teamer, now stands second on the team’s depth chart. He recently underwent foot surgery. Patrick Peterson is coming off ankle surgery, while Tyrann Mathieu is recovering from a torn ACL. Third-round pick Brandon Williams was seen as a project at cornerback after splitting time as a running back in college. Even though the Cardinals play a ton of safeties and Mathieu essentially plays cornerback, the Cardinals have a shocking lack of NFL-caliber cornerbacks on the roster. Don’t be surprised if they add a veteran or two.
It’s hard to know how much of a toll the injuries will have on Bethel, Peterson and Mathieu going forward, but it’s easy to know the Cardinals’ secondary will look a lot different in 2016, as two primary starters are no longer on the roster. The Cardinals lost Rashad Johnson, who started 14 games and had five interceptions in 2015, to the Tennessee Titans. Jerraud Powers, who started 13 games and had one interception to go along with two fumble recoveries, is now with the Baltimore Ravens.
There are also question marks on how much of a role former Oakland Raider and Kansas City Chief Tyvon Branch will play for his new team as he hasn’t been a primary starter since 2012.
But the impending new secondary might not be too much of a hindrance for the Cardinals, as Rosenthal notes, “they have the most projected wins in football by Football Outsiders, a campaign platform we can support.”