With the NFL lockout mercifully over, we can now get back to the important stuff: pie-in-the-sky trade scenarios, fantasy football and Brett Favre (okay, just kidding about ol' #4... I hope).
The Arizona Cardinals' depth chart has been heavily discussed this offseason, mainly because nothing could be done to improve the horrendous quarterback situation while the lockout was in place. Lets look at the skill positions and see what we're working with going into the 2011 season.
1. Tim Hightower
2. Beanie Wells
3. LaRod Stephens-Howling
Wild Card: Ryan Williams
Hightower and Wells had a timeshare of sorts in 2010, and the two backs combined for 1133 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Stephens-Howling was a pleasant surprise in the kick return game, running back two kickoffs for touchdowns and compiling an impressive 1548 return yards during an injury-shortened campaign.
The Cardinals have lost Jason Wright, who decided to retire and pursue other business opportunities. It will be interesting to see which of Hightower and Wells emerge as the lead back in '11, but both are wary of Williams, who was selected out of Virginia Tech in the second round of this year's NFL Draft. The move was surprising for many who didn't consider running back to be a huge position of need that early on.
Should Williams show more upside early in the season, though, all that talk will quickly subside.
1. Larry Fitzgerald
2. Steve Breaston
3. Stephen Williams
4. Andre Roberts
5. DeMarco Sampson
Fitzgerald and Breaston are known commodities (read: excellent), and Williams and Roberts both improved over the course of the 2010 season. Sampson is a rookie fresh out of San Diego State and will compete for a roster spot in 2011. He was a steal in the seventh round and if he can stay healthy, could be a dark horse contributor for the Cards.
1. Rob Housler
2. Ben Patrick
3. Stephen Spach
Housler is a rookie out of Florida Atlantic, and the Cardinals picked him up in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Housler offers Arizona something that Spach and Patrick cannot do -- he can catch the ball and spread the field. He's 6'5" and is going to help our new quarterback in multiple ways.
1. John Skelton
2. Richard Bartel
3. Spare parts
Skelton and Bartel are currently the only real possibilities on the Cardinals roster to be the starting quarterback in 2011, and that scares every single Arizona fan in the known universe.
There has been an incredible amount of coverage on the rumored trade of Kevin Kolb for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but that option is still conjecture as of today.
The Cardinals must acquire a veteran quarterback, whether it is Marc Bulger, Kyle Orton, Kolb, or any number of other options. Skelton just isn't ready, especially when the other skill positions are so deep and ready to win.