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You've Got Mail: Roster Filled, Now How Does It Play Out

Topics include impactful rookies and expectations on defense


The rookies have joined the veterans on the field, and organized team activities begin next week -- the stretch run of the offseason work that will lead to the finale of mandatory minicamp in mid-June. Still lots to ask about. As always, click here to send along a question for next week's mailbag.

From Zack Clifford via

"Of the new Cardinals (not named Kyler Murray) that have been acquired, either through free agency or the draft, who are you thinking will make the biggest impact the quickest? Isabella seems exciting but speedsters haven't exactly panned our for us (ahem* John Brown).Thanks! GO CARDS!"

If we are including free agency, then the first names that pop into my head are right tackle Marcus Gilbert and guard J.R. Sweezy on offense and cornerback Robert Alford on defense. Even linebacker Jordan Hicks. Those are the guys that are vets, that have played in this league, and that will start from jump. I'm not saying rookies -- aside from Murray -- can't make an impact quickly, but for instance, Byron Murphy is probably your nickel cornerback, at least to begin with. The receivers drafted are important, but I'm guessing Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald are your main guys out of the gate. Given that the offensive line is so crucial, I think Gilbert and Sweezy are needed badly right away.

From Bob Kitsos via

"Can you provide a Cliffs Notes' explanation as to why the Cards were only able to secure the 62nd pick in the draft for Josh Rosen? I read the Giants, Chargers and Patriots had a fairly high interest in him."

First of all, you were reading such things at the height of draft season. So many times that's smokescreen material. Once the Giants drafted Daniel Jones sixth overall, New York was never going to be possible. The Chargers and Patriots already have quarterbacks so their urgency wasn't necessarily there -- and besides, the Patriots actually had a pick further down the second round than 62 and the Chargers were only 60 -- it's not like it would have been much better. Ultimately it was a combination of how the league viewed Rosen and a lack of leverage once the Cards drafted Murray. In the end, if you are sold on Murray being potentially great, it's still a trade that is worth it -- especially if Andy Isabella pans out.

We'll have to see exactly how "Air Raid" this is for the Cardinals. But Johnson said he worked out of the shotgun plenty in college so that won't be an issue. We know he'll be more involved in the passing game -- Kliff Kingsbury has said that repeatedly, and that was a given after he wasn't used enough last year -- but how he would be able to handle legit do-I-hand-off-or-do-I-pull-it-back-and-throw decisions by Kyler Murray is TBD. Personally, I think he'd be fine. Johnson is a good football player. He can be effective in myriad ways.

From Michael Travers via

"Hello Darren, thanks for the opportunity. At this time Kingsbury's offense has not been unfolded for all to see, but it will happen soon enough. My question is about the defense who some believe will be a top 10 unit. If no serious injuries happen do you believe Vance Joseph can mold this unit into a top 10 defense? If so, which unit will be its strength?"

Yes, I believe without injuries this unit can get back to the level it was at a couple of seasons ago. Offensively, the Cardinals need to do their part to help the defense, but they have the pieces. As far as the strongest unit, I really like how the secondary is shaping up, with Pat P, Alford and Murphy at cornerback and Baker and Swearinger at safety.

From Simon Hide via

"Will the Cardinals try out a few other kickers besides Zane Gonzalez?"

I believe Gonzalez is the guy. At this point, with the roster filled out, I don't expect a kicking competition, unless somehow Gonzalez got sideways in OTAs and minicamp and the team changed its mind heading into training camp.

I'm not going to break down every injury over the last few years, but I'm not sure how you tie most of the serious injuries to strength and conditioning. Last year alone, you had OL Justin Pugh, A.Q. Shipley, Mike Iupati and D.J. Humphries along with defensive linemen Olsen Pierre and Robert Nkemdiche go down with knee injuries that in almost every case was getting hit wrong during contact. You can't train for that. Training isn't going to stop Christian Kirk or Korey Cunningham from breaking a foot, or Josh Bynes breaking a thumb, or John Wetzel messing up his neck. It's a brutal game. So no, I don't think a change in the program would make a difference.

From Chad Johnson via

"There was an article that Sean McVay overprepared for the Super Bowl against the Pats by watching too much film. It probably varies by coach, but how much game film to coaches watch prior to a regular season game? I was always under the assumption that there was a crew of people analyzing game film from the current year to see tendencies of the opponent."

Every coach on staff watches video of the opponent. Players watch video of the opponent. Plenty of it. In McVay's case, I think it was probably the old "paralysis by analysis." Yes, you need to study the opponent. But I do think it can come down to the law of diminishing returns. And with McVay, I believe he also noted that he was watching too much Pats' stuff within the context of not doing enough adjusting with his own team.

From Justin Zahn via

"I know it's voted on by the players but who do you think will be selected to be team captains? Do you think Patrick Peterson deserves to be a captain after asking for a trade midseason last year?"

These guys have barely been on the field together. No idea who might end up as captains, something voted upon after training camp. As for Peterson's candidacy, that's for his teammates to decide, right? Personally, I don't see why, with something like this, outside voices would or should matter. It's about the guys in that locker room and what they think is right.

No, there is no update. Patrick has gone stealth. As for mandatory minicamp in mid-June, I have no reason to think he won't be here.

I'll be honest, I had not noticed anything. What I have noticed is that Murray has the ability for an incredibly quick release. So however his mechanics might shake out, I don't see that slowing down his release. If you are asking in terms of a "tell" that opponents know he's about to throw, I don't see that as an issue.

From John Pashkow via

"What do you think of Max Kellerman's claim that if Fitz (who he compared to the NBA's Vince Carter) makes the Hall of Fame it will only be due to longevity?"

I think I disagree. Strongly. I'd make the case, except I don't think it's worth the time to make a case that is obvious. Now, I've watched every game Fitz has played and seen every catch, so I think I know pretty well the impact he has made.

So, so early. I'm not big on predictions, as long-time followers of what I do know. These rookies have barely been on the field, and certainly there has been minuscule work against veterans. If I had to throw one name out there, let's go with UDFA Dante Booker, who plays a position (ILB) needing depth and has ties to linebackers coach Bill Davis. But again, I've barely seen Booker play, so this is purely a shot in the dark, for entertainment purposes.

From Aaron Miller via

"Do you actually believe that the Cardinals follow their big board like they say they do? Throughout the most recent Flight Plan they say that they got three of their top 25. Murray was 1, Murphy was 6, and Allen was 25. But they drafted Isabella in between them. I'm not saying it was a bad pick or anything, but they even said in the video, 'trust our board,' but they didn't even do it that way. They went for need because they needed a WR. Or am I missing something?"

Couple things. First, Keim noted Murphy was the fifth-best player, not sixth. Allen was noted by Michael Bidwill to be in the top 25, not necessarily 25. At no point did they say Allen was higher than Isabella, only that Isabella was the "next" pick if they had stayed pat before the trade -- so I would assume Isabella would have been the third-round pick a few picks after 62 had the trade not happened. They said they also might have a chance at Butler. So I'm not sure why you think they didn't stick to the board.

From Steve Drumm via

"Darren: Being that Kingsbury is being touted by the media as a young, hip, stylish guy, will you occasionally be using Kliff as your go-to guy for fashion tips and grooming advice?"

It cuts deep that you would think I need such advice.

Ever? Yes.

(I find it fascinating this comes up a couple of times almost every week.)