Last year I remember a lot of talk around AP about our secondary being a strength of the team. Hell, I know I contributed to that conversation, because I thought it was true. Here we are in another offseason, where hope springs eternal, and we're all talking about the secondary being a strength again and again I know I am part of that bandwagon. I started analyzing and probably over analyzing the secondary players and rated them in 1 of 3 simple terms. As a Strength, Weakness or Unknown. After rating them my enthusiasm was tempered, although not lost, because of how many unknowns we have. If you try to put a starting 4 (or 5 with the NB) out on the field there are a lot of questions. Take a look and let me know how you see these players in comparison to me. I feel pretty comfortable with my assessments, but who am I. FYI... I left off Richardson and some other guys that cycled through last year because I'm lazy and I didn't see them figuring into the equation. If you see someone else contributing please add them into the conversation asyou see fit.
Brandon flowers will be our "Revis" in 2010. I know that's a bold statement, but this kid excites me. We can all at least agree that Flowers is the cornerstone of our secondary and should improve in year three, if he follows the 3rd year pattern of most NFL players. Verdict: Strength (this should be universally agreed, but people surprise me)
Jarrad Page hasn't been as available as we have needed him to be. He has been a playmaker when he has been healthy and was part of what I thought was a strong safety combination last offseason in Page/Pollard. I think his availability led to the Kendrick Lewis selection. Verdict: Unknown
Brandon Carr gets a lot of passes his way with Flowers lining up on the other side. He has made some plays, but he didn't improve anywhere nearly as much in year 2 as Flowers did. That may not be a fair comparison, but we need him to step it up this year and avoid giving up the big plays and touchdowns. Verdict: Unknown (this one was hard)
Eric Berry is a rookie, but I know he is going to be such an upgrade over our safety play last year. I know my daughters heard a couple of explicit words slip out of my mouth while I watched Mike Brown give up too many big plays during the 2009 season. I could go on, but I'm pretty sure we have had enough Eric Berry articles to last us a lifetime during draft coverage.Verdict: Strength (even though he hasn't played a snap in the NFL)
Javier Arenas should be our starting NB and should add some help in the blitz packages. I don't see anyone projecting him to start over Carr, so he will not be a 4 down player. Again, I'm drinking the Kool Aid on an unproven rookie. Verdict: Strength
Donald Washington is a physically talented player that didn't earn many snaps in 2009. Haley has made some positive comments about him this offseason, but no one knows what we have in Washington yet. Verdict: Unknown
Maurice Leggett -unavailable says it all. After winning the Mack Lee Hill award his rookie year as an undrafted free agent he hasn't shown that he can take the punishment the NFL delivers and stay on the field. He's another piece of what I thought was a foundation for a good secondary last year. Verdict: Unknown
McGraw really does need to find another job, queue the grocery bagger jokes. He is a great guy and has a lot of good qualities. Unfortunately none of those qualities are physical skills. Verdict:Weakness
Kendrick Lewis has a lot of buzz and a lot of potential. He is a rookie that was drafted in the 5th round, so I don't think the expectations are for him to be a day 1 starter (I have been wrong before. See other references earlier in the postJ). I really think this kid has an opportunity, but again a rookie. Verdict: Unknown
Dajuan Morgan has been interesting to say the least. When he was on the field last year I saw some real ability from him supporting against the run. Is he unable to play well against the pass? Is he just not one of the right 53? What is it that is holding our 2008 3rd round pick from contributing? I don't know and that leaves me with my last Verdict: Unknown.
As you can see we have many unknowns with potential and I even marked some unproven rookies down as strengths. In the end it truly comes down to the coaching and all signs are good in that direction. We should however be careful of our expectations come September.