Arizona Cardinals: Breaking Down the 2012 Rookie Class Post-Preseason
The Arizona Cardinals drafted seven players in the 2012 NFL Draft, and all seven of them have made the roster.
Arizona addressed its needs on the offensive line with three of its seven picks, and Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald got a player to complement him in former Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd.
Offensive linemen Bobby Massie, Senio Kelemete and Nate Potter all were brought in to shore up a shaky offensive line. Ryan Lindley was brought in to challenge for a back-up quarterback spot, while Justin Bethel and Jamell Fleming will bolster the defensive backfield.
The Cardinals had five preseason games to see how the 2012 draft class would work out. They made the team, but how did they grade out in the preseason?
Start the slideshow and find out.
Michael Floyd, WR (Round 1)
Michael Floyd was picked 13th overall by Arizona, and the wideout from Notre Dame has put together a strong preseason. After getting called out by Larry Fitzgerald for missing a workout, Floyd has been focused and working hard.
Floyd showed a lot of hustle on the field during the preseason games and had a 22-yard touchdown catch in the finale against Denver. Floyd came into the preseason games with the second unit and saw limited action.
The rookie's size and athleticism are the perfect complement to Fitzgerald. Floyd's presence should draw coverage his way, freeing up Early Doucet and Andre Roberts for more receptions.
Now that Floyd is on the roster and playing against starters on a full-time basis, he has a real chance to show his true value to the team. He's going to start the year fourth on the depth chart, and it will be interesting to see how Arizona utilizes him this season.
Jamell Fleming, CB (Round 3)
Overall Grade: C
Fleming was a great man-to-man cornerback at Oklahoma and hopes to take that to the next level. At times during the preseason, he looked good in coverage.
Fleming also is the kind of corner who can come up into the box and take down ball-carriers. His ability to do that will help an Arizona defensive unit that got run on quite a bit early in the season last year.
In addition to shoring up the run defense, Fleming is able to jam receivers at the line. That will disrupt timing patterns and will create more chances for the defense to get off the field quickly. Strength is his strength; Fleming led all cornerbacks at the combine with 23 reps on the bench press.
Look for him to be that extra defender in the box when the Cardinals need to stop the run.
Bobby Massie, OL (Round 4)
Overall Grade: C-
Massie fell to the Cardinals in the fourth round of the draft. He's a big tackle with plenty of upper-body strength and knows how to get his hands on a pass-rusher to avoid getting called for holding.
That makes him a strong run-blocker, but Massie's pass-blocking is a little weak.
In the preseason, Massie had difficulties when he had to move his feet and go to the outside for pass protection. He was beaten on up-and-under moves and was caught flat-footed at times.
Massie is being pushed into a starting role because of injuries to Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges that put them both on IR, so he will be put to the test early on. Massie will be part of a unit that gave up 105 sacks in the last two seasons combined, and the Cardinals need him to be part of the effort to reduce that number.
The question that awaits is, how will Massie fare protecting a semi-mobile quarterback in
John Skelton as opposed to pocket passer Kevin Kolb? Can Massie offer protection for longer periods of time?
Senio Kelemete, OL (Round 5)
Overall Grade: C
Kelemete was a starter on both sides of the ball at the University of Washington. In his underclassman years, he played defensive line before moving to his more familiar offensive line side for the final two seasons.
Kelemete made 26 straight starts at left tackle for the Huskies, yet Arizona thinks of him
more as a guard. He has the versatility to work in either position.
He made the move to guard since he doesn't appear to possess the strength nor the speed to play tackle at the NFL level. Kelemete's ability to get to the second level makes him a good run-blocker, and he should be able to open up lanes for Beanie Wells.
The Arizona line will be tested early and often this season, and Kelemete will do his part to make sure the Cardinals are up to the challenge.
Justin Bethel, S (Round 6)
Overall Grade B+
Bethel has all the makings of a late-round draft gem. Bethel has excelled on special teams by blocking field goals, extra points and punts in the preseason.
In addition to his kick-blocking abilities, Bethel is a speedy gunner as well. He can fight through the blocks and get to the returner quickly, making him an asset in the fight for field position.
While he works on his defensive skills, there's no question that Bethel's special teams skills are top-notch. With Bethel coming off the edge and Calais Campbell pushing up the middle, look for the Cardinals to be among the league leaders in blocked kicks this season.
Ryan Lindley, QB (Round 6)
Overall grade: C
Lindley made the roster as the third quarterback, and his performance in the preseason finale made him look like the No. 3 quarterback on the Cardinals roster. Richard Bartel went down hurt in that game and wound up on IR, making Lindley's path to the roster easier.
Lindley showed poise in the pocket and was able to make several good passes in the preseason finale against Denver. He also caught a break when an interception was negated by a defensive penalty.
Right now, Lindley doesn't look likely to start a game for the Cardinals. However, if the regular season gets off to a slow start offensively, he might get the starting nod. While Kevin Kolb and John Skelton could potentially go back and forth in Quarterback Quagmire 2012, Lindley could be the guy who benefits the most if neither produces good results.
Nate Potter, OL (Round 7)
Overall Grade: C
Potter, a seventh-round pick out of Boise State, didn't do anything spectacular either way during the preseason. He wasn't beaten repeatedly to allow sacks, but Potter also wasn't making highlight-reel blocks, either.
His long arms are an asset for any offensive lineman, and he will be counted on to keep the pass-rush at bay. Potter is the kind of lineman who can bump a rusher off his path and force him to the outside.
He will have to push his game a little more when confronted against some of the more difficult pass-rushers in the league, though.
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