Phoenix Kings 2014 Cardinals outlook

  • Alex Mann

Courtesy of Hensley Beverage Company

Training Camp opens tomorrow, as players and staff will flock from all over the country to Tempe headquarters. Rookies will get their first taste of an actual NFL practice, returning players come back with a confidence from last season, and fans can finally leave their caves of misery and step into the sunlight. The Phoenix Sports-Kings staff gives their outlook on the 2014 season, dishing out the awards five months before the end of the season, and predicting where their beloved team ends up. So without further ado, let us reveal our awards and records!

Marcus Burnan: Jared Veldheer
Ian Johnson: Patrick Peterson
Alexander Mann: Andre Ellington
Dylan Veltkamp: Jared Veldheer
Jason Mulkey: Carson Palmer
Stephn Baldetti: Jared Veldheer
Manuel Childs: Larry Fitzgerald


Nearly half of our writers believed that Jared Veldheer would hoist the Cardinals MVP title this season. It makes sense seeing as he is possibly the best signing the Cardinals have made in a long time. Other names like Peterson, Palmer, and Fitzgerald all could state their case this season, while Ellington is a dark horse in this race.


Marcus Burnan: John Brown
Ian Johnson: John Brown
Alexander Mann: Troy Niklas
Dylan Veltkamp: John Brown
Jason Mulkey: John Brown
Stephn Baldetti: John Brown
Manuel Childs: Troy Niklas


Brown was the runaway selection by the staff. It’s quite obvious as to why as well, seeing as the staff and players have talked up Brown throughout offseason work. Niklas is behind the curve, after dealing with a bad hand and recovering from his hernia surgery. It does not help that he only played tight end for two seasons with Notre Dame, but if he is healthy and hits the ground hard, the Cardinals could very well have a viable candidate for Rookie of the Year.


Marcus Burnan: Kareem Martin
Ian Johnson: Deone Bucannon
Alexander Mann: Kareem Martin
Dylan Veltkamp: Deone Bucannon
Jason Mulkey: Deone Bucannon
Stephn Baldetti: Deone Bucannon
Manuel Childs: Deone Bucannon


Again, the staff was nearly unanimous with their selection, as all but two chose Deone Bucannon as their Defensive Rookie of the Year. His selection makes sense as fans expect to start day one and make an immediate impact on the team. Kareem Martin can also put his name in the hat, as he is essentially a raw version of Calais Campbell. A season under Campbell’s tutelage, and we can see great things from Martin.


Most Improved Player:
Marcus Burnan: Carson Palmer
Ian Johnson: Carson Palmer
Alexander Mann: Bobby Massie
Dylan Veltkamp: Carson Palmer
Jason Mulkey: Larry Fitzgerald
Stephn Baldetti: Antonio Cromartie
Manuel Childs: Larry Fitzgerald


Palmer was the name that popped up the most and following his 22 interception season last year, there is much to improve on. Bobby Massie is fighting to regain the starting right tackle job that he lost last season, and after a good OTA and Minicamp, he appears to be the front runner for the job. Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Cromartie both had down seasons last year, and will look to rebound. Both have a good shot at doing so, as they play opposite of players who are among, or on the fringe, of being in the top players at their respective positions.


Leading Receiver:
Marcus Burnan: Michael Floyd
Ian Johnson: Larry Fitzgerald
Alexander Mann: Michael Floyd
Dylan Veltkamp: Michael Floyd
Jason Mulkey: Michael Floyd
Stephn Baldetti: Michael Floyd
Manuel Childs: Larry Fitzgerald


Michael Floyd is the popular selection with the staff. After posting numbers that surpassed anyone’s expectations in 2013, he’s looking to accomplish that yet again in 2014. He has drawn comparisons to a bigger Anquan Boldin. The comparison is valid, as he’s strong and tough, forcing tacklers to fight to bring him down. Larry Fitzgerald slipped his name on the board, and if he can slip the nagging hamstring issues that have hampered him the past few seasons, he could very well put up a few excellent seasons before his time ultimately comes to an end.


Leading Rusher:
Marcus Burnan: Andre Ellington
Ian Johnson: Andre Ellington
Alexander Mann: Andre Ellington
Dylan Veltkamp: Andre Ellington
Jason Mulkey: Andre Ellington
Stephn Baldetti: Andre Ellington
Manuel Childs: Andre Ellington


This was an obvious selection from the start. No other player is expected to come anywhere close to Ellington’s statistics this season. Following his 2013 campaign where he averaged 5.5 yards per game on 118 attempts, he is expected to get the bulk of the carries, while still being able to play a full 16 game schedule as he is 5’9 199 pounds. (It is reported however that he has added 10 pounds this offseason)


Biggest Bust:
Marcus Burnan: Sam Acho
Ian Johnson: Ted Ginn Jr
Alexander Mann: Jonathan Cooper
Dylan Veltkamp: Rob Housler
Jason Mulkey: Ted Ginn Jr
Stephn Baldetti: Larry Foote
Manuel Childs: Ernie Sims


Only one player finds his way on here more than once, and that’s Ted Ginn. While it’s understandable that fans are pessimistic about his role this season, they still have cause for hope after his 2013 campaign in which he saw his best statistical season as a receiver. Everyone but Cooper is not a surprise on the list. Cooper is on there because fans expect so much from him upon his return, that they are setting themselves up for failure, thus being disappointed in Cooper’s performance.


Biggest Gem:
Marcus Burnan: Earl Watford
Ian Johnson: Tyrann Mathieu
Alexander Mann: Ed Stinson
Dylan Veltkamp: Troy Niklas
Jason Mulkey: Alex Okafor
Stephn Baldetti: Tyrann Mathieu
Manuel Childs: Jonathan Cooper


The staff had a variety of names again. Watford was drafted out of James Madison last season, and gained praise from Bruce Arians and his staff throughout the season. This year he must battle incumbent right guard, Paul Fanaika for the starting job. Ed Stinson has drawn a lot of intrigue from Darnell Dockett and could see an important role this year. Okafor, Mathieu, and Cooper are all returning from season ending injuries. Mathieu was excellent last season, while Okafor and Cooper have drawn plenty of praise from the staff for their offseason work.


Record Predictions:
Marcus Burnan: 10-6 Wildcard
Ian Johnson: 11-5 Wildcard
Alexander Mann: 11-5 Divisional
Dylan Veltkamp: 11-5 Divisional
Jason Mulkey: 11-5 Divisional
Stephn Baldetti: 11-5 Wildcard
Manuel Childs: 10-6 Wildcard


This is supposed to be a big year for Arizona. They beat the eventual Super Bowl champions, Seahawks, on their home turf, and challenged the 49ers in both match ups. Had it not been for the Cardinals week one loss to the Rams, in which they lead 24-13 in the fourth quarter, they would have been in the playoffs and had the teams best record since moving to the desert. Fans expect the Cardinals to reach the playoffs in 2014, and challenge for NFC West supremacy.


Phoenix Sports-Kings Lead Columnist Dylan Veltkamp @DylanVeltkampSK
Phoenix Sports-Kings Contributor Alex Mann @mannrotb

Phoenix Sports-Kings  Contributor Stephn Baldetti @StephnBdettiSK
Phoenix Sports-Kings Assistant Site Manager Ian Johnson @IanJohnsonSK
Phoenix Sport-Kings Co-Lead Columnist Jason Mulkey @_JayBird79

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