Arizona Cardinals: Which Rookie Will Have Biggest Impact in 2012?

Shaun ChurchContributor IMay 10, 2012

Cards' rookie receiver Michael Floyd is fitted for his first professional helmet
Cards' rookie receiver Michael Floyd is fitted for his first professional helmet

The Arizona Cardinals addressed the No. 2 receiver spot early in the 2012 NFL Draft, taking Michael Floyd with the No. 13 overall pick.

Floyd will undoubtedly start opposite long-time friend and now teammate, Larry Fitzgerald. The combination will have fans remembering the days when Anquan Boldin teamed up with Fitz to produce an average of 168 receptions for 2,200 yards and 16 touchdowns between them in the six seasons in which they were teammates—and Kurt Warner was the full-time starter in only two of those seasons.

Arizona dedicated its late-round picks mainly to creating competition at right tackle. Bobby Massie—the Cards’ fourth round pick—is expected to compete early for the starting role with veteran Jeremy Bridges, while its seventh-round selection, Nate Potter, will either provide depth or join the practice squad.

Mixed in were two defensive backs, an offensive guard and a quarterback.

So which of Arizona’s 2012 draftees will have the biggest impact as a rookie?


Answer: It’s Massie. Why?

The 6’6”, 316-pound mauler out of Mississippi is keen in the run-game, and his ultra-physical style of play will bring some nastiness to an offensive line that is in desperate need of it.

Massie will use his quick feet to set the edge against pass-rushers of all shapes and sizes.

It would not be surprising if the rookie earned a start in Week 1 against division-rival Seattle, and the message would be clear: The Arizona Cardinals will not accept mediocrity any longer.

While it’s true that head coach Ken Whisenhunt does not normally start rookies, he has recently had to buck that trend due to some of his veterans under-performing to the point of fans wondering how said veteran is still on the roster (see: Joey Porter).

Massie is an upgrade over unrestricted free agent Brandon Keith, who will not be re-signed. He is also an upgrade over former sixth-round pick and 10-year vet, Jeremy Bridges.

While Bridges is more experienced and knows the offense, Massie should step in nonetheless and provide the line with an instant upgrade.

Some of you may feel Michael Floyd will have the biggest rookie impact on the team; however, the protection Massie will provide should be a big helper in the production output of Floyd. The more time the quarterback has—be it Kevin Kolb or John Skelton—the better receiver production the team will see.

The improved production will not be limited to just Floyd, or even Larry Fitzgerald.

Massie’s impact will resonate throughout the entire offense—from Fitz and Floyd to running backs Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams. Even the tight ends will benefit from the better blocking on the right side of the line.

Before the draft, many assumed Massie would be selected anywhere from the late-first to somewhere in the second round. When he fell to Arizona on the third day of the draft (fourth round, No. 112 overall), the Cardinals wasted no time in scooping him up.

“I was a little bit (surprised),” offensive line coach Russ Grimm told “You just have to weigh how our guys have him rated and go from there.”

Grimm was not the only surprised party involved. The draft pick, himself, said he wasn’t sure why he fell as far as he did.

“I don’t really know,” Massie said. “It just makes me hungry. I was projected to go higher and earlier in the draft. I’m ready to strap on the pads and show teams why I should have been drafted earlier.”

Mike Mayock, an analyst and draft guru for NFL Network, had Massie as the overall No. 44-rated player on his 2012 draft big board—ahead of second-round picks Mitchell Schwartz (No. 37 overall to Cleveland) and Mike Adams (No. 56 overall to Pittsburgh).

While the reasoning behind his fall is unknown, and ultimately unimportant, the benefits Arizona will reap because of it mean more.

Massie may be a player Arizona can plug in at right tackle for the next decade without coaches fearing for their jobs due to poor line play. While he’s just one large man on a line of five large men, one less position to worry about can go a long way for job security.