The Arizona Cardinals have been one of the most active franchises during the shortened free agency period of the 2010-2011 off-season, with the additions of Kevin Kolb, Todd Heap, and Vonnie Holiday. The red birds hope that Kevin Kolb will develop into a franchise quarterback who will be able to take advantage of Larry Fitzgerald’s skill set and convince the all-pro wide receiver to stay with the club when he becomes a free agent in 2012.
The Cardinals rushing attack was a sore spot in 2010, as the club finished dead last with a mere 89 yards per game on the ground. To address this issue, the franchise drafted Ryan Williams in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. Williams enters the NFL after two excellent seasons with the Virginia Tech Hokies, in which he set single season records in both yardage and rushing touchdowns.
Williams will compete against the much maligned Beanie Wells for the starting position this season. It was thought that Tim Hightower would also be in the mix for the starting role; however those thoughts were put to rest after the Cardinals shipped Hightower to the Redskins for veteran defensive end Vonnie Holiday.
It is too early to tell who Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt will choose to carry the load for his team. Wells came to the team with high hopes in 2009 after an excellent college career with Ohio State, but has failed to secure the lead role after two less than spectacular seasons. One could argue that his poor production in 2010 was directly related to lack of support from the passing game; after all, the Cardinals were second to last in passing last season.
Regardless of the variables that have led to a mediocre start for Wells, there is no denying the fact that he is going to have to battle Williams in camp this season. From a fantasy perspective, both players are excellent late round upside picks in all formats. The addition of Heap and Kolb to the passing game and the lack of competition in the lowly NFC West should bode well for whoever wins the starting role.
Our money is on Williams, as we believe that Whisenhunt and the Cardinal coaching staff are not impressed with Wells’ work ethic and lack of production. On he other hand, 2012 could be the season in which Beanie finally lives up to the promise that made him a first round pick in 2009.