Draft Grades: Arizona Cardinals

This was a bold draft for the Arizona Cardinals, who acted more like a team on the verge of contention than one in rebuilding mode. It’s a fine strategy if Kevin Kolb works out, but if their quarterback situation remains a question mark, this could set them back.

Michael Floyd was a luxury pick, but does give Larry Fitzgerald the support he needs. It also shifts Early Doucet back into the slot receiver role, which is a better fit for his skill set.

I like the selection of Jamell Fleming inthe 3rd round. He’ll add some much-needed depth to the secondary and potentially compete for more serious playing time as the season wears on.

The Cardinals should have addressed their offensive line issues before the 4th round. Bobby Massie is a right tackle or a guard, and doesn’t provide them a clear upgrade at any position.

Senio Kelemete may compete for a starting job at either right or left guard, but won’t be a significant upgrade at either position. If he wins a starting job, it will likely be by default, more than the fact that he’s actually ready for the NFL.

Justin Bethel is a nice developmental prospect who could potentially play cornerback or safety. He’ll likely contribute on special teams early while they develop him on defense.

Throwing Ryan Lindley into the mix at quarterback doesn’t really solve any problems. Lindley is a developmental prospect with all the NFL measurables, but accuracy has always been an issue for him.

Nate Potter can play tackle or guard and will compete for a backup job.

This wasn’t one of Rod Graves better draft classes. They could potentially come away with three immediate starters (Floyd, Massie, Kelemete) but that speaks more to the lack of depth on the current roster than the strength of this class.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cardinals, Draft Grades - 2012 1 Comment

Arizona Cardinals select Michael Floyd, Grade B

Very interesting pick by the Arizona Cardinals. In terms of value, Michael Floyd makes sense. He’s a solid mid-1st-round prospect and gives Kevin Kolb another legitimate target.

However, I’m not crazy about how he fits in Arizona. He’s not a guy who can stretch the field and Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t really do that at this stage in his career either. There is no doubt in my mind he’ll make an impact, so I still give it a solid B, but I probably would have addressed the offensive line or added a pass rusher with this selection. It sort of feels like a luxury pick for a team that can’t really afford one.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Cardinals Comments Off

Draft Needs: Arizona Cardinals

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Arizona Cardinals [full archive here].

Season Recap: The Arizona Cardinals entered the season with higher hopes than an 8-8 finish after acquiring QB Kevin Kolb, from the Philadelphia Eagles, in a blockbuster trade. Kolb managed to play only nine games due to concussion problems, but struggled during his time in the lineup. Ken Whisenhunt stated an open QB competition between Kolb and John Skelton, who led Arizona to some impressive victories. Let’s hope one of the guys can do enough to at least supply Larry Fitzgerald ample playmaking opportunities.

Team Needs:
1. Offensive Tackle: The Cardinals’ line situation is one of the worst in the league. Arizona needs to find a capable protector for Kolb. Levi Brown played LT last year, but performed very poorly. Brown should be moved back to the right side, meaning Arizona needs a new left tackle. Jonathon Martin and Riley Reiff are the two most likely options in the first round.

2. Wide Receiver: Since the loss of Anquan Boldin, Arizona hasn’t had a solid number two option to complement All-World WR Larry Fitzgerald. There will be many receivers available in the first two rounds that could fill the void. Stephen Hill, Kendall Wright, Reuben Randle, and Mohammed Sanu are names to keep an eye on.

3. Offensive Guard: More line issues. Arizona signed Adam Snyder, but he is better as a back up. Interior offensive line will be a focus in the middle rounds, with a possible selection of David DeCastro, the draft’s top guard, in round one.

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Cardinals, Draft Needs - 2012 Comments Off

2011 Draft Grades: Arizona Cardinals

GM Rod Graves proved in this draft why he is one of the most under-appreciated draft decision makers in the business. The Cardinals had glaring holes at quarterback and on the offensive line; but without any elite players at those positions in the draft, Graves made the wise decision to simply target the best player on the board.

In the 1st round that player was clearly Patrick Peterson. He was the No. 1 prospect in the draft in my opinion, and getting him at No. 5 is an absolute steal. Peterson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have the potential to form one of the league’s most feared cornerback duos.

I was surprised by the selection of Ryan Williams in the 2nd round, but when you consider the struggles of Beanie Wells through his first two seasons it makes sense. They probably aren’t giving up on Wells, but Williams is a smaller, more athletic runner and will be a nice compliment to Wells’ north/south style. Tim Hightower is a free agent and will likely be the odd man out.

In the 3rd round Rob Housler was a reach, but fills a glaring hole at tight end. Stephen Spach and Ben Patrick simply aren’t threats in the passing game and both are free agents. Housler is still very raw, but has the size and athleticism to be a matchup nightmare for opposing linebackers and safeties. He may take some time to develop, but has a very high ceiling.

I love the selection of Sam Acho in the 4th round. He’ll backup Porter and/or Haggans at outside linebacker and will likely be given an opportunity to win a starting job down the road. Additionally, he’s a high character guy that will be a great addition to their locker room. It was an excellent value pick at that point of the draft.

The selection of Anthony Sherman is somewhat confusing, especially because Arizona now has four fullbacks on the roster – and that’s four more than some teams. I’m not particularly high on him, but it’s tough to judge the selection until we see how they use him.

I was shocked to see Quan Sturdivant fall to the 6th round. There are some injury and character concerns (arrested for marijuana possession) but I certainly never expected this free fall. The fact that he tumbled so far makes me wonder if some red flags were raised in interviews – but whatever happened, he’s still well worth the risk in the 6th round.

David Carter only has one year of starting experience and I don’t think he’s a particularly good fit for the Cardinals 3-4 defense. He doesn’t appear to have the athleticism to play end, but isn’t big enough to be a true nose tackle. They also didn’t have a great need for depth at the position, which may make it difficult for him to find a spot on the roster.

Demarco Sampson has shown some talent, but has very little upside. He missed two consecutive years due to injury while at San Diego State and will turn 26 during his rookie year. He’s going to have a hard time finding a spot on the 53-man roster.

Overall, this was a solid draft for the Cardinals. I really like Rod Graves’ approach in the early rounds. However, at some point you do have to address your needs. If the plan is to bring in a veteran quarterback, that’s fine, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that the offensive line went untouched. No matter who you have under center, you can’t expect him to have Kurt Warner’s lightening-quick release and pocket presence. Until the line is upgraded, the offense is going to struggle to regain their form.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cardinals, Draft Grades - 2011 1 Comment

Arizona Cardinals could trade up for No. 1 pick

Yesterday I speculated that the 49ers could be a candidate to trade up for the No. 1 pick in an effort to land Blaine Gabbert. Another team in the mix to move up No. 1 is the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals have made their interest in Gabbert very clear, and I believe there is a 99% chance they would select Gabbert if he falls to No. 5.

However, I also believe there is a slim chance that he gets past the Panthers, Bills and Bengals. In order to land Gabbert, they may need to move up, and the only safe way to assure he’s on the board they would be to move to No. 1. Read more

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Cardinals, Panthers 1 Comment

Von Miller visiting Bills, Broncos, Browns

Von Miller‘s stock has been on the rise throughout the offseason and it appears as though he’s headed towards a spot in the top five or six picks.

Miller has reportedly already scheduled workouts with the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns – who own three of the first six picks in April’s draft.

The fact that Miller could go in the top five isn’t a surprise, but it is interesting that he’s drawing interest from nearly everyone at the top of the draft.

A fourth team in the top six, the Arizona Cardinals, may actually be the team most likely to draft Miller. They’re desperate for youth at linebacker and Miller would be a perfect fit in their 3-4 scheme. In my latest mock draft I have Miller going 5th overall to Arizona.

Update: Miller worked out for the Cardinals on March 15

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bills, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals Comments Off

Draft Needs: Arizona Cardinals

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Arizona Cardinals. [full archive here].

Season Recap - Just one season removed from a divisional playoff loss, the Kurt Warner-less Arizona Cardinals struggled throughout the 2010 season. Expected Warner replacement, 2006 first round draft pick and former Heisman Trophy winning QB Matt Leinart was released one week before the start of the season. The unexpected move placed the offense in the hands of Quarterbacks Derek Anderson, Max Hall, and John Skelton. No player seized the job, and as a result Arizona finished the season 5-11. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt has a long to-do list in attempts of putting Arizona back into the winning column.

1. Quarterback – Besides Skelton’s successful drive to beat Dallas in week 16, there were few positives from the position. Arizona finished the season ranked 31st in passing yards and will need to find an upgrade at QB to improve. There have been talks of possibly trading for Kevin Kolb or Donovan McNabb, but the Cardinals could also decide to see if prospects Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton fall to #5 in the draft. A veteran QB is probably the best option due to Fitzgerald entering the final season under contract. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Cardinals, Draft Needs - 2011 1 Comment

Cardinals trading 1st-round pick for Kolb?

On Tuesday morning on Mike and Mike, ESPN football analyst John Clayton suggested that the Eagles would expect at least a 1st-round pick in exchange for Kevin Kolb. He then went on to name the Cardinals as a team potentially willing to part with their 1st-round selection, the 5th overall pick in this year’s draft.

My initial reaction is to laugh this off, but there are only a handful of people out there that know as much about the NFL – specifically NFL transactions – as John Clayton, so I’ll at least entertain the possibility.

With Kolb, the Cardinals immediately become playoff contenders

The Kolb-Cardinals rumor is certainly nothing new. Ken Whisenhunt openly lobbied for a veteran quarterback last offseason (he was reportedly interested in Marc Bulger) and this offseason will be no different after the failed Derek Anderson experiment.

The rumors grew when Larry Fitzgerald endorsed him as a potential candidate to come to Arizona, and Kolb later said he would welcome a trade to the Cardinals.

But the 5th pick for an unproven quarterback who will turn 27 in August? It seems a little too steep.

That said, the Cardinals just might consider it. In the wide-open NFC West Kolb would make the Cardinals instant playoff contenders and help them re-sign Fitzgerald who is set to become a free agent following the 2011 season.

So while I wouldn’t normally endorse a trade such as this, I think this one is worth considering. If they enter 2011 without a viable long-term option at quarterback they stumble through another losing season and likely lose Fitzgerald to free agency. That series of events could send the Cardinals into a tailspin back into irrelevancy.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Cardinals, Eagles 1 Comment

10 teams looking for a new starting quarterback

Nearly one-third of the league could have new starting quarterbacks by September. Due to a greater demand than supply, it’s likely that not all of these teams find themselves a new signal caller, but here are the top 10 teams we’ve identified as most likely to have a new quarterback in 2011.

10. Broncos
It sounds as though Josh McDaniels was the lone Tebow support in Denver, and with him gone it seems likely that the Broncos will consider other options. John Fox has indicated that he likes Tim Tebow, but he also isn’t ready to commit to a starting quarterback. They’re unlikely to address this need in the draft, but signing a veteran is a strong possibility.

9. Raiders
Jason Campbell is still under contract but their other four quarterbacks (seriously, they have four other quarterbacks on the roster) are free agents. Keeping Campbell is a definite possibility, but you just never know what Al Davis as in mind. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them trading up into the 1st-round (they already traded their own 1st-round pick) in an effort to land Cam Newton or Jake Locker.

8. Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent and may return, but he doesn’t have much left in the tank. They would certainly love to have Hasselbeck around to groom a young quarterback, but I don’t expect the Seahawks to commit to him as the starter. If he wants a guarantee that he’ll be a starter for the next year or two, he may need to go elsewhere.

7. Dolphins
Owner Stephen Ross has stated that he wants a creative, hurry-up offense in 2011, and that won’t be happening with Chad Henne under center. The Dolphins have grown tired of his slow development and seem ready to move on. Drafting a quarterback (possibly Newton) is a possibility, but they may prefer to bring in a veteran in an effort to turn things around quickly.

6. Bills
With the 3rd pick in the draft the Bills could have their pick of the quarterbacks, and Blaine Gabbert is a definite possibility. But the reason I don’t rank them higher is because I think they’ll strongly consider bringing Ryan Fitzpatrick back for another season. He was one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 season. The Bills may even draft Gabbert, or someone in the 2nd or 3rd round, and let them sit for a year behind Fitzpatrick.

5. Titans
Vince Young is as good as gone, and Kerry Collins is a free agent. However, I wouldn’t rule out Collins’ return. The Titans are in position to draft a quarterback (Gabbert, Newton or Mallett) and I suspect Jeff Fisher will prefer to keep Collins around to help groom their future franchise quarterback.

4. Redskins
After getting benched in favor of Rex Grossman, it’s hard to imagine Donovan McNabb returning to Washington. It’s equally difficult to image the Redskins sticking with Grossman for 2011. With the 10th pick in the draft Mike Shanahan is in position to select his quarterback of the future. Ryan Mallett and Newton are both strong possibilities.

3. Vikings
We know Favre won’t be back (and I actually believe him this time) and Tarvaris Jackson is a free agent. Joe Webb performed far better than anyone could have expected of a guy who was drafted as a wide receiver, but I can’t imagine Leslie Frazier sticking with him for 2011. The Vikings will either draft a quarterback (Newton or Mallett) or bring in a veteran (possibly Kevin Kolb).

2. Cardinals
Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t happy with the Cardinals quarterback situation entering last season and I’m guessing he’s even less pleased after seeing how it played out.  Drafting Blaine Gabbert is a possibility, but I suspect Whisenhunt would prefer to bring a veteran aboard, as he did last offseason. Either way, their opening day starter is definitely not on the current roster.

1. 49ers
Alex Smith and Troy Smith are both free agent and I would be very surprised if either returned.  I currently have them selecting Gabbert in my mock draft, but trading for Kevin Kolb is also possibility. Another option is signing a veteran, such as Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace, to keep the seat warm for whoever Jim Harbaugh choses to groom for the position.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Raiders, Redskins, Seahawks, Titans, Vikings Comments Off

How Kevin Kolb could impact the draft

Every year the NFL draft projections change as free agents sign and players get traded, but nothing changes the landscape of the draft – and the league, for that matter – more than a starting quarterback finding a new home.

This year the man on the move is Kevin Kolb.

Everyone expects the Eagles to either re-sign or franchise Michael Vick, and when that happens Kevin Kolb is likely to demand a trade. Where he winds up could have a ripple effect on the draft.

Here’s a look at a few possibilities:

The Bills own the 3rd pick, but it is entirely possible that they would prefer to avoid taking a quarterback. There are a number of 1st-round options, but no one jumps out as an obvious franchise quarterback. They may be content to trade for Kolb and use that pick on A.J. Green – a move which may actually have a more immediate impact on their rebuilding process. If that happened, it would mean the first quarterback wouldn’t come off the board until the 5th pick at the earliest.

The Cardinals, who own the 5th pick, are another option. I believe Ken Whisenhunt would prefer to fix their quarterback situation with a veteran, rather than with a draft pick. He knows he’s on a short leash, and drafting a quarterback would lead to a full rebuilding process which he likely wouldn’t survive. Adding Kolb would immediately put them back in the playoff picture in the NFC West.

The 49ers are in a good position to land a quarterback in the draft, but there’s no guarantee – especially if they have their heart set on someone in particular. In order to avoid the drama, they may prefer to trade for Kolb. That could cause for someone to fall to the Titans and/or Redskins.

The Titans are in a similar position to the Cardinals. They need a new quarterback, but their coach may not be around to see him develop. As a result, Jeff Fisher may push for the franchise to trade for Kolb or someone else who can help them win immediately. That could allow for someone to fall to the Redskins.

The Redskins don’t seem interested in extending the Donovan McNabb era, but they also aren’t in a position to feel comfortable about landing a quarterback in the draft. Trading for Kolb may be a smart move (if the Eagles could justify another trade within the division). If they trade for Kolb, it would increase the chances that a top quarterback falls out of the top 10, which the Vikings and Dolphins would be absolutely thrilled about.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Cardinals, Eagles, Redskins, Titans 6 Comments