Saturday, December 4, 2010
2009 NFL draft revisited: Cardinals
By Mike Sando
A quick look at the Arizona Cardinals' 2009 draft class ...
Best pick so far: Seventh-round choice LaRod Stephens-Howling has become a Pro Bowl-caliber player on special teams, both as a returner and in coverage. He has increasingly found a home in the Cardinals' offense. Arizona can line him up as a running back or wide receiver. For his career, Stephens-Howling has three touchdowns on kickoff returns, one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown.
Second-guessing: The Cardinals could badly use young talent at outside linebacker. Second-round choice Cody Brown missed his rookie season after suffering a wrist injury. The Cardinals cut him heading into this season after Brown showed little during camp. With Brown out of the picture, veterans Joey Porter and Clark Haggans remain the team's best options at outside linebacker.
Key variable: Beanie Wells has shown he can be a difference-maker. His 43-yard reception up the right sideline Monday night validated coach Ken Whisenhunt's contention that Wells has good receiving skills. Wells has also occasionally added a physical presence to the offense through his running style. Injuries and inconsistency have prevented Wells from meeting expectations, however. His latest setback came Monday night when Wells failed to widen his arms enough while accepting a handoff, leading to a tone-setting lost fumble on the Cardinals' first offensive play.