Given the influx at the quarterback position and the stale nature of the offensive line, the Arizona Cardinals 2012 draft class can't be fully judged as a whole. Yet they can be judged as individual players based on their roles as players on offense, defense and special teams.
Five wins doesn't accurately represent the talent associated with the 2012 rookie class, but it does represent the fact that this team does need help going forward and this past years draft class is a good starting point.
There were plenty of highs and lows for all seven of the rookie contributors. However, they all have one thing on their side—they all logged time in an NFL game, which means they all know what it's like to play at the highest level.
No one can take that experience away from them. That experience will better equip them for the 2013 season.
With that being said, let us take a look at each player's individual grade, based on their performance, from the 2012 season.
The Arizona Cardinals used their first selection in the draft on a wide receiver who they were hoping would compliment their future Hall of Fame wideout, Larry Fitzgerald. Michael Floyd did everything he could to be that compliment, yet it was hard to maximize all of his talent considering the Cardinals finished with the 32nd ranked offense in the league.
Not to mention Floyd didn't see a lot of action until Week 8. Against San Francisco in Week 8, he was targeted 11 times and caught five of those 11 targets for 36 yards. Not astronomical numbers by any means, but at least he was getting involved in the offense.
Fast forward to Week 17 and it was easy to see his potential and first-round ability. With Brian Hoyer under center, Floyd posted his first career 100-yard game with 166 yards receiving and his first eight-reception game. Prior to Week 17, he had only caught more than five balls once in a game.
His final stat line for the season was 45 catches, 562 yards receiving and two touchdowns. He forced five missed tackles and only put the ball on the ground once. Based on the Cardinals quarterback position, he did as well as anyone could have expected him to do.
2012 Grade: B
Coming into 2012, there were a lot of questions about the cornerback position in Arizona.
Many wondered whether or not Patrick Peterson would turn into an elite corner during his second-season? The other question was in regards to the health of Greg Toler who was recovering from a serious knee injury and newly signed cornerback William Gay.
With so many questions looming, Arizona went out and drafted Jamell Fleming. Fleming flashed during the preseason while playing both outside corner spots. His natural spot appears to be at right cornerback, so that's where he landed during the regular season.
He appeared in 10 games total for the Cardinals. However, he only saw one-snap for the remainder of the season after Week 9. Prior to his inactive streak, he was thrown at 31 times by opposing quarterbacks. Twenty one of those 31 targets resulted in completions for 248 yards.
It's also worth noting that he allowed two touchdowns passes as well. Not the most encouraging numbers from the rookie corner, but undoubtedly cornerback is one of the toughest positions to play as a rookie. Expect his stock to go way up in 2013.
2012 Grade: C-
The curious case of Bobby Massie and the Arizona Cardinals offensive line. Massie was the 112th selection out of Mississippi. He was regarded by draft experts as one of the best offensive tackles in the draft—some even had him going inside the top-50.
So, it was smart of Arizona to draft him when they had the chance to in the fourth round. However, his play through the first seven games of the season didn't appear as if it warranted a selection at all. He surrendered a league leading 12 quarterback sacks and 32 quarterback hurries.
Yet he didn't allow seven poor performances completely tank his season. Massie rededicated himself after reflecting on his awful play and decided that he was going to do whatever it took to play better. From Week 8 to Week 17, he went on to give up one measly sack and nine hurries.
Much improved numbers compared to the first seven games of the season. His resurgence helped solidify his draft status as a steal and it gave him confidence heading into the offseason. If he can build off his late-season play, Massie has the opportunity to become a very special offensive lineman in the NFL.
2012 Grade: C+
Senio Kelemete was another prospect the Cardinals had high hopes for. It was evident that he probably wasn't going to play right away, but he was there for depth purposes as a swing player. He came out of college as a tackle, but was switched to guard in Arizona based on his size and athletic ability.
He made one appearance in 2012 against the 49ers. Week 17 caused a shuffle on the offensive line due to injury, so it wasn't surprising to see Kelemete play 43-of-56 offensive snaps. According to the analysts at Pro Football Focus, he was penalized once, he gave up one sack and one hit.
Not spectacular, but not horrible either considering the 49ers have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. With Adam Snyder underachieving big time at right guard in 2012, it wouldn't be out of the question to see Kelemete get a shot moving forward.
He couldn't possibly do any worse than Snyder did. He was one of the five worst offensive guards in the league based on PFF's grading system.
2012 Grade: N/A, Not Enough Snaps
Despite only playing 13 snaps on the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Justin Bethel was a hit on special teams. He ended the season with 14 special teams tackles, which was tied for the seventh most in the NFL.
Bethel was drafted to play special teams and was able to make the active roster by continuously blocking kicks during the preseason. His kick blocking skills in the preseason didn't translate to the regular season, but he did manage to recover an 82-yard kick that was blocked by fellow teammate Adrian Wilson.
His 82-yard scoop and score provided Arizona with its only score of the game against Chicago. It will be interesting to see whether Bethel turns out to be a lifer on special teams or if he eventually becomes a contributing cornerback on the defensive side of the ball.
As I mentioned above, he only logged eight snaps on the defensive side of the ball, so I will only be grading him on his special teams play only.
Heading into 2013, there is one key area he needs to improve upon. He needs to do a better job of wrapping up and not whiffing on open field tackles. His five missed tackles on special teams were tied for third most in the league.
2012 Grade: B+
In a year that saw plenty of changes at the quarterback position for the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan Lindley was one of the three backups thrust into action. When the Cardinals started 4-0 because of Kevin Kolb, it was safe to assume the organization was finally seeing dividends paid from its monstrous trade.
Lo and behold just two short weeks later Arizona was 4-2 and Kolb went down with a season ending injury. The injury accelerated Lindley's rookie season as he was called on after backup quarterback John Skelton failed as Kolb's replacement.
Lindley went on to start four games during the teams final seven games of the season. During that seven-game span, Lindley was an atrocious 89-of-171 passing, he threw seven interceptions and zero touchdown passes.
Moreover, his quarterback rating was 46.7 and averaged 4.4 yards per attempt. All of those numbers coupled with the fact the Cardinals only won one game when he was the starter made it easy to see he is not this teams future.
It's likely he returns as a backup next season, but look for Bruce Arians to hand pick a quarterback for the 2013 season.
2012 Grade: D-
Left tackle Nate Potter was undoubtedly one of the best value picks in the entire draft. Potter was the 221st selection in the draft and the last of the seven picks the Cardinals had.
After Levi Brown went down for the season, D'Anthony Batiste made nine straight starts at left tackle. Unfortunately for Arizona, he proved to be worse than Brown was in 2011, so they made a switch Week 9 against the Green Bay Packers.
Potter went on to vindicate that coaching staff's decision to insert him as the starter for the remainder of the season. Sure, he had some low points as he surrendered seven sacks in six starts, but that didn't stop him from turning in a couple of fine performances.
His best game of the season was against the Detroit Lions Week 15. He was perfect in pass protection as he didn't allow a single quarterback pressure and he enforced his will in the run game. He provided a key block on Beanie Wells' 31-yard touchdown run.
Depending on what happens with Brown in the offseason, it's hard to tell if Potter remains the starter in 2013.