Grading Every Arizona Starter's 2013 Regular Season

Andrew NordmeierContributor IIIDecember 30, 2013

Grading Every Arizona Starter's 2013 Regular Season

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    The Arizona Cardinals saw their 2013 season end with a 23-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium. Arizona finished the season at 10-6, one game behind the New Orleans Saints for the final wild-card spot. 

    While Arizona missed the postseason despite double-digit wins, there still is plenty to build on for next season. They finished with the best rush defense in the league, allowing 84.4 yards per game. 

    The offense had issues at times but still managed to keep the team in the postseason hunt despite a 3-4 start to the season. 

    Let's see how the starters graded out for the season. Start the slideshow and find out. 

Quarterback

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    Carson Palmer

    He was the first Arizona quarterback to start all 16 games since 2008, and he threw for more than 4,000 yards. But a career-high in interceptions (22) helped to take some luster off of his 24 touchdown passes. He made plays when he had to but also threw some untimely interceptions. He was much better than what Arizona had at quarterback last season.

    Grade: B-

Running Backs

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    Rashard Mendenhall

    Mendenhall finished the year with 687 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 217 carries. The scores were pretty good but the yardage wasn’t there. Mendenhall didn’t break many big plays this season and was seldom good for more than three yards a rush. He also missed some time with a toe injury and nearly lost his starting job.

    Grade: C

     

    Andre Ellington

    Ellington looked like he should have been the starter all along despite being a rookie. Ellington rolled up 652 rushing yards and three touchdowns—on almost 100 fewer carries than Mendenhall. Ellington added 39 catches out of the backfield for 371 yards, good for fifth on the team in that category. Ellington has a chance to be the lead back next season with Mendenhall being a free agent.

    Grade: B+

Wide Receivers

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    Larry Fitzgerald

    Fitzgerald had a pretty solid season. He led the team with 82 receptions and 10 touchdown catches. He finished just shy of the 1,000-yard mark with 954 for the season. He’s the leader of the team on offense and put together another excellent season.

    Grade: A-

     

    Michael Floyd

    Floyd was the team’s lone receiver with more than 1,000 yards this season (1,041) and posted five touchdowns. He had a great breakout period from Week 11 to Week 13 and shows a lot of promise for the future. He was a strong compliment to Fitzgerald, and the second-year wideout from Notre Dame looks like he will be an asset for seasons to come.

    Grade: B+

     

    Andre Roberts

    Roberts struggled with inconsistency all season. He had just 43 catches on the season and wasn’t much of a threat on the offense this season. Roberts has flashes of talent but needs to improve on his route-running and try to become more than an afterthought.

    Grade: C-

Tight Ends

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    Rob Housler

    Housler missed three games at the start of the regular season with an ankle injury and finished with 39 catches on the season. He looked better in the second half when Arizona had the tight end more involved with the offense, but the Cardinals still have a ways to go at the position.

    Grade: C-

Offensive Line

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    Bradley Sowell

    Sowell had to fill in after Levi Brown was traded to Pittsburgh during the season for a conditional draft pick. Sowell had his struggles in pass protection but was often going against some of the elite pass-rushers in the league. He’s going to have to battle for a roster spot next season as this is expected to be a position targeted early in the draft.

    Grade: D+

     

    Daryn Colledge

    Colledge has been quietly consistent and one of the better offensive linemen this season. He had to switch sides when Jonathan Cooper was lost for the season in the preseason with a leg injury. Colledge performed well this season and could be better at his natural position.

    Grade: B

     

    Lyle Sendlein

    Sendlein has been a player whose name you don’t hear mentioned often, and that’s a good thing. His snaps got to Palmer without incident, and he was a solid blocker this season.

    Grade: B

     

    Paul Fanaika

    Fanaika came in for Colledge after he shifted to the left side. He could have been vulnerable and looked overmatched at times but was able to improve through the season. Fanaika will have to compete for a roster spot next season.

    Grade: C

     

    Eric Winston

    Winston was picked up as a free agent and had solid showing in the run game this season. He could have been a little better in pass protection, but the line really improved in the second half of the season.

    Grade: B-

Defensive Line

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    Darnell Dockett

    Dockett had 4.5 sacks and was a key part of the Arizona defensive line that was the best against the run in 2013. That was also where he excelled and turned in a solid season.

    Grade: B

     

    Calais Campbell

    Campbell was the anchor of the defensive line this season. He posted 58 total tackles and nine sacks on the season, making him a threat on the defensive line. Campbell also pounced on a couple fumbles and made life difficult for the opposition.

    Grade: A

     

    Dan Williams

    Williams had a difficult season, missing two games after the death of his father in an auto accident. He finished with 21 tackles and an interception he returned for a two-yard touchdown in the season opener. Williams also battled with injuries this season, which limited his effectiveness.

    Grade: C

Linebackers

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    Karlos Dansby

    Dansby was the anchor of the defense and could very well be the top player on the team. It’s hard to beat 122 tackles, 6.5 sacks, four interceptions and two touchdowns. Check that, it can’t be beat. Arizona should make signing him a priority in the offseason since he will be a free agent.

    Grade: A+

     

    Daryl Washington

    Washington missed the first four games of the season after being suspended by the league for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. Washington still had a solid season with 75 tackles and three sacks. If he had a full season, the Arizona defense would have been better, especially against the pass.

    Grade: A

     

    John Abraham

    Abraham was another player who came over in free agency and signed a two-year contract. Arizona got the most of the first season. Abraham had 31 tackles but finished the season with 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Abraham had a pair of three-sack games and looks rejuvenated in Arizona.

    Grade: A

     

    Matt Shaughnessy

    Shaughnessy was pressed into service after Sam Acho and Lorenzo Alexander both suffered season-ending injuries in New Orleans. He recovered three fumbles and scored a defensive touchdown on the first play from scrimmage against Houston. He has potential to perform at this level, but he might get buried on the depth chart.

    Grade: B-

Cornerbacks

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    Patrick Peterson

    Peterson had another strong season at the cornerback position. He matched up well against some of the top wide receivers in the league. He defensed more than a dozen passes and came down with three interceptions. Peterson continues to be one of the best cover corners in the league.

    Grade: A

     

    Jerraud Powers

    Powers had a solid season opposite Peterson with 66 total tackles and 17 passes defensed. Teams may have gone after Powers, and he stepped up to the task. Powers was a quiet but effective contributor this season.

    Grade: B

Safeties

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    Tyrann Mathieu

    Mathieu burst onto the scene with his hustling play to strip Rams player Jared Cook of the ball and save a touchdown in the first game of the season. He was all over the field playing multiple positions and a key role in the stellar run defense Arizona had this season. The only thing that slowed him down was the injury to his knee that ended his season.

    Grade: A-

     

    Yeremiah Bell

    Bell was a nice compliment to Mathieu this season and would rack up at least five tackles in most games. He had issues at times in pass coverage but still had a pretty good season.

    Grade B-

Special Teams

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    Jay Feely K

    Feely had some problems at times this season. He missed a pair of field goals in the finale against San Francisco and had a critical miss in the first game at St. Louis. His inconsistency cost the Cardinals at times this season, and he’s going to be a free agent.

    Grade: B-

     

    Dave Zastudil P

    Zastudil was one of the best punters in the league again this year. He had an average of 45.8 yards per punt and dropped 35 of them inside the opposing 20-yard line. Zastudil is a key to Arizona winning the field-position battle and is an asset.

    Grade: A-