Arizona Cardinals 2018 team preview
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It is often said that you are only as good as your record. Nowhere was that more accurate than the Arizona Cardinals last season.

They were a mediocre team all season and finished the season 8-8. They traded wins and losses in the first seven weeks of the season before going on their bye week. They did not win or lose more than two games in a row.

Head coach Bruce Arians and starting quarterback Carson Palmer announced their retirements in early January. That caused general manager Steve Keim to reset the team.

Head Coach

The Cardinals hired Steve Wilks on January 22. Wilks was the Assistant Head Coach for the last three seasons in Carolina. He also served as the team’s defensive coordinator in 2017 and defensive backs coach from 2012 to 2016. He spent seven seasons as defensive backs or secondary coach of Washington, Chicago and San Diego before joining the Panthers. His only previous head coaching experience came at NCAA Division II Savannah State in 1999. He spent one season there before moving up to the FCS level as a defensive backs coach.

Draft Picks

Round 1, Pick 10 – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Rosen is a franchise quarterback. He may end up being the best quarterback in this class.

Round 2, Pick 47 – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M. Kirk is a versatile receiver that can play inside or out. He has the ability to make the difficult catch.

Round 3, Pick 97 – Mason Cole, OL, Michigan. Cole is a versatile offensive lineman that started at multiple spots in college. He projects as a future starter at center in the NFL with the ability to slide outside if necessary.

Round 4, Pick 134 – Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham. Edmonds is an undersized slasher style running back that can make plays in space. He will likely be a third-down receiving back in the NFL.

Round 6, Pick 182 – Chris Campbell, CB, Penn State. Campbell is a long cornerback that lacks the athleticism to a long-term starter. He will need to prove capable of making plays on special teams to stay in the NFL.

Round 7, Pick 254 – Korey Cunningham, OT, Cincinnati. Cunningham is an athletic edge blocker. He lacks the balance and core strength to be an everyday starter, but could be a quality backup swing tackle.

Notable Additions

QB Sam Bradford (Vikings) – Bradford will open the season as the starter. How long he stays in that role is yet to be seen.

WR Brice Butler (Cowboys) – Butler is a big downfield threat that should challenge for a starting role.

FB Derrick Coleman (Falcons) – Coleman is an athletic fullback that can handle the ball.

QB Mike Glennon (Bears) – Glennon will likely make the team as the backup/third-string quarterback. Barring multiple injuries, he won’t see the field.

OL Justin Pugh (Giants) – Pugh is an immediate starter at right guard or right tackle. Guard is his better position but started at tackle last season.

OL Andre Smith (Bengals) – Smith has had a solid career at right tackle for the Bengals. However, the last few seasons have been underwhelming.

Projected Starters

Offense

Quarterback – 9 Sam Bradford; Running Back – 31 David Johnson; Wide Receiver – 11 Larry Fitzgerald; Wide Receiver – 13 Christian Kirk; Wide Receiver – 18 Brice Butler; Tight End – 84 Jermaine Gresham; Left Tackle – 74 D.J. Humphries; Left Guard – 76 Mike Iupati; Center – 53 A.Q. Shipley; Right Guard – 67 Justin Pugh; Right Tackle – 71 Andre Smith

Defense

Defensive End – 44 Markus Golden; Defensive End – 55 Chandler Jones; Defensive Tackle – 90 Robert Nkemdiche; Defensive Tackle – 98 Corey Peters; Linebacker – 43 Haason Reddick; Linebacker – 57 Josh Bynes; Linebacker – 20 Deone Bucannon; Cornerback – 21 Patrick Peterson; Cornerback – 28 Jamar Taylor; Safety – 36 Budda Baker; Safety – 41 Antoine Bethea

Specialists

Kicker – 4 Phil Dawson; Punter – 2 Andy Lee; Long Snapper – 46 Aaron Brewer

Biggest Question

How long will Rosen remain on the bench?

The Cardinals traded up a few spots to get Rosen in the draft. When a quarterback is selected in the first round, he is expected to be the starter by the end of the year. Bradford is certainly talented enough to keep Rosen on the bench all season but has a history of injuries. The Cardinals fan base is going to be watching the quarterback situation very closely.

To Answer That Question

Rosen will make no starts this season

The Cardinals have a difficult finish to the season. It starts in Week 12. At that time they should still be in contention, but will quickly fade. The Cardinals will keep trotting Bradford and/or Glennon to protect Rosen’s development. They will not want to subject him to the Los Angeles Rams’ defense in Arizona as well as the road environments of Green Bay, Atlanta and Seattle. He will likely get some playing time, but it will not be as a starter.

Outlook

With the improvement of the Rams and San Francisco 49ers over the last two seasons and Russell Wilson remaining the quarterback of Seattle, the Cardinals are bound to take a step backward as they try to get back to the upper tier of the NFC.

A tough finish to the season will result in a 6-10 record. That includes an 0-6 mark to finish the year. Interdivision games play a large part in a team’s end of the season record. The Cardinals will go 2-4 against the Rams, 49ers and Seahawks this season.