Lessons Learned from Arizona Cardinals', Rod Graves's 2012 Draft Strategy

Sigmund Bloom@SigmundBloomNFL Draft Lead WriterJuly 26, 2012

TEMPE, AZ - APRIL 29:  (L-R) Head coach Ken Whisenhunt, first round draft pick Patrick Peterson and general manager Rod Graves of the Arizona Cardinals pose together during a press conference to introduce Peterson at the team's training center auditorium on April 29, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It was a tale of two seasons for the Arizona Cardinals. A 1-6 start and injury to starting quarterback Kevin Kolb made it seem like the team was ticketed for a return to the top five of the draft. Enter John Skelton, an improved defense, and the punch provided by first-round pick Patrick Peterson in the return game, and the team rattled off seven wins in its last nine games to finish 8-8.

What would long-time Cardinals brass and current general manager Rod Graves do in the draft to keep the momentum going?

The Cardinals must have really loved Michael Floyd

Not that Floyd isn't an imposing prospect with a rare size/speed combination. The Cardinals have the best wide receiver in the league, and they were without a second-round pick. Floyd was widely seen as a best player available pick because of the possible intersections between need and value that the Cardinals passed up at edge rusher and on the offensive line. There were clearly suitors in the market for a trade up at that point in the first round, so the Cardinals could have easily traded down to patch the hole in their draft left by the Kevin Kolb trade.

The move is a visionary one if Fitzgerald takes Floyd under his wing and returns the passing game to the Fitzgerald/Boldin days. The only problem is that there's no Kurt Warner in town, and getting the full value from this pick will be difficult unless the Cardinals solve their quarterback position.

If the Cardinals have a "type" at quarterback, it's more Skelton than Kolb

The Cardinals were considered a dark-horse team to target Ryan Tannehill if he fell or perhaps a mid-round quarterback prospect because of their lack of a proven long-term answer on the roster. Graves didn't opt for a quarterback until the sixth round. The choice, San Diego State's Ryan Lindley, was a big-A quarterback with a big arm but a raw game. His scouting report reads almost identical to John Skelton in places.

It could be a coincidence, but the Cardinals interest in a quarterback with size and arm strength over a more quick-strike west-coast offense style passer could portend the outcome of the team's quarterback battle this summer.


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