By Adam Caplan
May 29, 2012
Pre-Draft Needs: OLT, ORT, OLB, RG, WR, CB
Round 1-Michael Floyd/WR
Round 3-Jamell Fleming/CB
Round 4-Bobby Massie/OT
Round 5-Senio Kelemete/OG
Round 6-Justin Bethel/S
Round 6-Ryan Lindley/QB
Round 7-Nate Potter/OT
OLT, OLB, CB
The Cardinals, if they want to seriously push for a playoff spot this season, have to improve at a few positions on offense and defense.
They started off with the selection of WR Michael Floyd in the first round. And it was not a secret that they were looking to improve the wide receiver spot opposite veteran Larry Fitzgerald. With Floyd in the fold, the Cardinals can move third-year WR Andre Roberts to the slot or move him around to create better matchups. Roberts has really good short area quickness, and the coaches can take advantage of that trait with him playing inside. Floyd, who is known in scouting circles for his solid hands and physical play, gives the Cardinals another big receiver.
Third-round pick Jamell Fleming is known as a physical cornerback, which is exactly the type of player that defensive coordinator Ray Horton was looking for out of this draft at that position. With fourth-year CB Greg Toler coming off an ACL injury and the starting job opposite second-year CB Patrick Peterson I need of depth and competition, Fleming could get in the mix right away.
Fourth-round pick OT Bobby Massie has a legitimate chance to start at right tackle as a rookie. His competition is journeyman Jeremy Bridges. Massie could have easily been selected in the third round based on his ability and size. The Cardinals failed to add competition at left tackle, where the inconsistent Levi Brown will be given another shot. While Brown ended last season well, he has been a disappointment overall, which makes the decision to pass on adding competition through free agency or the draft even more surprising. The Cardinals can get out of Brown’s contract after this season without owing him anymore money, but he’ll earn at least $8 million this season in bonuses and base salary.
Fifth-round pick G/T Senio Kelemete should prove to be a nice value for the Cardinals. While he played guard and tackle in college, Kelemete doesn’t have the size to play on the outside, but his physical style of play in college projects him to guard at the NFL level.
Small school S/CB Justin Bethel had experience at more than one defensive back position in college, so it’s possible the Cardinals move him around a bit. Bethel is known in scouting circles for his solid size and athleticism. He dropped down in the draft a bit because he didn’t go up against elite competition in college. But if he can handle the step up in competition, the Cardinals might have gotten a steal. The second of their sixth-rounders, QB Ryan Lindley, is also an intriguing prospect. Lindley has a very strong arm, but because of his inaccuracy, dropped down a few rounds. But if he can improve on his mechanics, he could push for a significant role down the road.
Seventh-round pick OT Nate Potter figures to compete for a backup job at left tackle.
This draft has a chance to be very productive for the Cardinals down the road. In fact, it’s not out of the question that they get at least four starters out of this year’s draft class by year three.