Arizona Cardinals: Reviewing Their 2012 NFL Draft
Prior to the draft, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald told Peter King of Sports Illustrated that he wanted his team to draft Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd. With the No. 13 overall pick, the Cardinals granted his wish and drafted a player who can become a legitimate No. 2 starting wideout across from Fitzgerald.
While the rationale behind the Floyd selection is easy to understand, was he the best selection for the Cardinals in Round 1 and did they take full advantage of the rest of their draft picks? Read through the following slides to find out.
Evaluating the Picks
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Round 1, Pick 13: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 29
Floyd has an ideal combination of size, speed, strength and hands to be a very good No. 2 wideout, and he enters a very good situation where he will avoid double teams by lining up across from Fitzgerald. He is a big, physical wideout with great athleticism and hands.
Floyd was productive but inconsistent at Notre Dame. Additionally, Floyd comes to the NFL with serious character concerns following three alcohol-related arrests at Notre Dame. That said, Floyd could be the perfect fit for the Cardinals offense if he keeps his head on straight.
Round 3, Pick 80: Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 60
Fleming is a physical cornerback who tackles well and has good instincts and playmaking ability. He has stiff hips for an NFL cornerback, but he has good ball skills. He has the skills to develop into a solid No. 2 cornerback.
Round 4, Pick 112: Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 87
Massie is a raw talent, but he could be a fourth-round steal. He is a long, angular offensive tackle who has the length and power to be a very solid right tackle. He is a solid athlete, but his footwork and physical strength need to develop.
Round 5, Pick 151: Senio Kelemete, G/OT, Washington
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 143
Kelemete was a solid all-around left tackle at Washington, but there is nothing special about his game. Neither his strength nor his athleticism stand out. He is a solid technician who should be a versatile backup to provide offensive line depth.
Round 6, Pick 177: Justin Bethel, DB, Presbyterian
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 232
Bethel is a very intriguing small-school prospect with big upside. Bethel has a very good combination of size and athleticism, and has the potential to succeed at any position in the secondary, with safety size and physicality but cornerback athleticism. Bethel is a raw projection who will have to make a tough transition from FCS football to the NFL, but he has the talent to be a starting-caliber defensive back and should also excel on special teams.
Round 6, Pick 185: Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 214
Lindley had a poor senior season, marred by inaccuracy and poor decision-making. He has big upside, however, with tremendous physical tools and the ability to make NFL throws. Lindley was well worth a draft selection in the late rounds as a developmental quarterback prospect.
Round 7, Pick 221: Nate Potter, OT, Boise State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 110
Potter has a great combination of size and athletic ability for an offensive tackle, but his game needs work. He has good feet, but also has subpar strength and struggles as a run-blocker. Potter will not be able to start right away, but he is a good developmental prospect.
Evaluating the Trades
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The Arizona Cardinals traded Round 2, Pick 51 along with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the Philadelphia Eagles in July 2011 for quarterback Kevin Kolb.
The jury is still out on this trade. Kolb is a talented and still young quarterback who is currently the Cardinals starter, but they gave a high price to acquire him and he had mixed results in his first season in Arizona. This trade could end up being well worth it if Kolb establishes himself as a long-term starter for the Cardinals, but his security going forward may not be as certain as his hefty contract would make it appear.
The Arizona Cardinals received Round 6, Pick 177 from the Washington Redskins along with defensive end Vonnie Holliday in July 2011 for running back Tim Hightower.
This trade came following the team’s 2011 draft selection of Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams, which made Hightower an expendable part. Holliday did not end up being productive in his lone season with the Cardinals, but they could reap the rewards of this draft selection used to select Bethel.
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The Cardinals got very good value throughout this draft.
While I thought Michael Floyd should have only been a late first-round selection, he was expected by many to be a top-10 draft choice, so the Cardinals got solid value by selecting him with the No. 13 overall selection.
The Cardinals got terrific steals on Massie in Round 4 and Potter in Round 7, and got very solid value on Fleming in Round 3. The Cardinals did not reach on any of their seven draft choices, and selected players who were among the best available at their position.
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Given the Cardinals’ need of a left tackle, I think the best move for the Cardinals in the first round would have been to trade down from No. 13 overall and then select Iowa’s Riley Reiff or Stanford’s Jonathan Martin later in Round 1. That said, the Cardinals’ passing offense, since losing wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston, has left the team without a legitimate No. 2 wideout to start across from Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals filled that need by selecting Floyd, who will be the perfect fit to take on that role that had been voided in their receiving corps. After filling that need, the Cardinals went on to address the offensive line heavily on Day 3 with the selections of Massie, Kelemete and Potter. Massie could become the Cardinals’ starting right tackle right away, while the others can provide much-needed depth.
Having traded away Rodgers-Cromartie last season, the Cardinals also needed to add another cornerback, and they addressed that need by selecting Fleming and Bethel.
One area that the Cardinals could have upgraded at but failed to do so, was to add another pass-rusher at outside linebacker. That said, the Cardinals have two solid young talents at the position in Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield, and were fine to count on them while addressing their biggest needs.
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The Cardinals had one of the most complete and well-rounded drafts of any team. Even without a second-round draft pick, they used every draft pick that they had effectively, both in need and value, to build a more complete roster.
As long as Michael Floyd stays out of trouble, he will have a major and immediate impact on the Cardinals offense. Jamell Fleming and Bobby Massie are quality talents who were good value picks and will be able to step in and fill needs early.
In the later rounds, the Cardinals drafted some players with very intriguing potential in Justin Bethel, Ryan Lindley and Nate Potter, all of whom could develop into starting-caliber players in time.
The Cardinals may not have found their franchise left tackle or an elite pass-rusher in this draft class, but by counting on Levi Brown at left tackle and the pass-rushers they have, they will able to fill needs on the rest of their rosters and add quality talent at good value.