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2011 NFL Draft Grades: Arizona Cardinals 'Winners' In NFC West

With the 2011 NFL Draft in the books, projections for this coming season, whenever it may start, are already rolling in. Factored into the equation is the 2011 NFL Draft grades from the weekend, especially in the NFC West where the competition continues to be wide-open. A good draft filled with impact players could take a team from worst to first and at least one person is projecting the Arizona Cardinals may make waves this season.

USA Today’s Nate Davis loved the Cardinals' draft, grouping them in with the weekend’s winners. But it wasn’t just the draft that had Davis high on the Cardinals, and one name Davis threw out as a potential free agent acquisition should get the attention of Seattle fans. The Cardinals are looking for a quarterback and, Davis says, Matt Hasselbeck may be a possibility.

Assuming a Marc Bulger or Matt Hasselbeck is eventually “in the Cards,” they could be positioned to return to the NFC West perch they occupied in 2008-09. With CB Patrick Peterson, RB Ryan Williams, TE Rob Housler, OLB Sam Acho and ILB Quan Sturdivant, Arizona potentially added five 2011 Week 1 starters. Steady quarterback play and answers on the interior O-line — all three 2010 starters are presently unsigned — could be just enough to recapture a division still up for grabs.

We keep hearing Hasselbeck’s time in Seattle may be over, but with the NFL lockout in place, the offseason is at a stand-still. Hasselbeck is a free agent after the Seahawks were unable to sign him before the lockout began, but it’s unclear whether he’ll re-sign after the legal wrangling comes to a close. If the Seahawks move-on, would Hasselbeck scuttle away to a division rival? It would make for an interesting storyline.

I do have a hard time believing one draft will fix the Cardinals immediately, and it may be some time before Arizona is back competing for the NFC West crown. But they did draft quite a few building block players and are headed in the right direction. Until the Cardinals find a capable quarterback, though, they appear destined to toil in mediocrity.

For even more on the draft, head on over to Field Gulls. Check out the rest of our 2011 NFL Draft grades to get caught up on all the picks. For a look back on the draft that was, check out our 2011 NFL Draft StoryStream. Stay with us for more on the draft as it becomes available.