NFL Nation: Wilrey Fontenot

Cardinals: Cutdown analysis

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
2:20
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Biggest surprise: There weren't any big ones. Undrafted rookie linebacker Reggie Walker did beat out veteran Victor Hobson. The team kept seven receivers for now, including Lance Long, after injuries affected Early Doucet, Anquan Boldin and (previously) Steve Breaston. I would not expect the Cardinals to keep seven receivers all season, a reminder that this is the team's initial 53-man roster, not the final one.

Arizona sought to upgrade its secondary through the draft and free agency. That spelled the end for veteran safety Aaron Francisco. I thought the team might keep veteran center Melvin Fowler as insurance. Rookie returner LaRod Stephens-Howling stuck around, costing fullback Tim Castille a chance to continue with the team. Tight end Leonard Pope's demise had been on the horizon for a while and it was a bad sign when he was playing deep into the second half of the fourth exhibition game.

No-brainers: The team also released quarterback Tyler Palko, receiver Steve Sanders, receiver Ed Gant, cornerback Wilrey Fontenot, running back Chris Vincent, cornerback Jameel Dowling, fullback Reagan Maui'a, guard Trevor Canfield guard Carlton Medder, defensive end Alex Field, defensive tackle Keilen Dykes, tackle Oliver Ross, receiver Onrea Jones, defensive tackle Rodney Leisle, linebacker Chase Bullock and linebacker David Holloway. Canfield, chosen in the seventh-round, was the only 2009 draft choice released.

What's next: The heirarchy at tight end will continue to shake out, with Dominique Byrd essentially getting an extended tryout while Ben Patrick serves a four-game suspension. The team still could use a backup center with some experience.
Cardinals DB Pos. Age Status
Ralph Brown
CB 30 UFA
Adrian Wilson
SS
29 Signed
Michael Adams
CB 27 Signed
Rod Hood
CB
27 Signed
Keith Lewis
SS 27 Signed
Bryant McFadden
CB 27 Agreed
Eric Green
CB 26 UFA
Antrel Rolle
FS 26 Signed
Matt Ware
FS 26 Signed
Aaron Francisco
FS 25 Signed
Wilrey Fontenot
CB 24 Signed
Dennis Keyes
FS 23 Signed
D. Rodgers-Cromartie
CB 22 Signed

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Bryant McFadden gives the Cardinals a physical cornerback to pair opposite top cover man Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

The improved depth also gives the Cardinals flexibility heading into the draft. Rodgers-Cromartie, McFadden and Rod Hood comprise a potentially strong top three at cornerback.

Here's the Scouts Inc. breakdown on McFadden, who joins the Cardinals from Pittsburgh as an unrestricted free agent:

McFadden has a strong well-defined body and adequate height. He plays the run well, is physical near the line of scrimmage and doesn't back down from a physical challenge. McFadden has decent instincts, play
s the ball well and is a quick learner. He sees plays develop well and shows excellent competitiveness. He is a good tackler and gets his hands on the ball quite a bit.

His speed is just slightly above average and could be exposed against the faster wideouts in the league. His hip turn and change-of-direction skills are also just slightly above average, but he has very good body control and rarely takes false steps, which make up for some of his potential shortcomings. He can be overly aggressive at times going for the big play and will sometimes bite on double moves, although he has improved in this area.

McFadden is effective in press or off-coverage and may be at his best playing in a Cover 2, where he can stay close to the line of scrimmage and mix it up. He also does a nice job in off-coverage and sees the play develop in front of him well. He is a valuable member of the secondary, but needs to step up all areas of his game to be considered a solid starter. He also contributes on special teams and is a young player with an ample amount of upside..

The situation at cornerback has improved dramatically from one year ago. Rodgers-Cromartie became an emerging star as a rookie first-round draft choice. McFadden qualifies as a solid veteran. Hood is good enough to be part of the rotation, but now the Cardinals aren't counting on him to be a starter.

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