Sunday, April 29, 2012

The 2012 NFL Draft Grades

 #13 (pick overall)  Michael Floyd, WR:  Why would the Cards think that what they need most is another WR?  I haven't heard a single legitimate reason why Floyd makes this offense better.  Levi Brown is still the LT and still stinks in pass protection.  Whiz still runs a pass heavy offense.  How is Floyd going to keep Kolb from getting killed?  He isn't.  This is the typical foolish philosophy that says "offensive linemen don't score TDs, the skill players do."  Sadly, this has been the age old adage of these Cards: Emmitt Smith will fix this team, FAIL.  Edgerin James will fix this team, FAIL.  All we need is a QB like Kolb, FAIL.  All the while Pittsburgh reloads the offensive line and builds perennial winners.  None if this commentary reflects on Floyd though.  It’s just a bad philosophy that has permeated through the years in Arizona.  They blew it by not addressing the line and passed on a good bet for the Hall of Fame in David DeCastro at Guard.  Pittsburgh didn’t.  They snatched him up the second they saw him on the board. 

Floyd is Larry Light in that he’s big, has decent hands, blocks well, meets the ball at the point, gets good push off of the CBs, and plays aggressive.  He doesn’t quite compliment Fitz as much as he is the exact same player.  I’m very concerned with his maturity.  I hadn’t ever heard him speak until he was drafted.  I was terrified to listen to a 9 year old boy speaking inside a man’s body.  Now I know why all the other teams shied away from him after he was interviewed.  He has a checkered history and all the hope is on Larry to mentor him into a professional.  Just like Cris Carter did for Randy Moss right?  I don’t think this kid is near as bad as Randy, but I also don’t think he’s near as talented. 

When grading this pick you also have to consider who was available at #13 when they selected:  David DeCastro, Melvin Ingram, Riley Reiff, Dont’a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, and Kendell Wright.  Considering LT, OLB, SILB, and WR2 were positions of need they were in a great position to trade down and grab some future picks and still get a quality player.  Although I heard they might have been low balled, I’m not sure what compensation they were offered, but it sure looks like they myopically selected Floyd.  Most people I talked to would place Floyd as the 5th best selection for the Cards there compared to who was available.  I had Floyd below all the others I listed above.  And WR2 was 3rd on the need chart.  They ignored a stud in DeCastro, and a major steal in Ingram.  Ingram would have had a major impact this year on defense as OLB.  I’m not saying they blew the pick.  I am saying that they came up short on all the value that the pick has to offer.  And, as you know, I’m furious that they didn’t get DeCastro.

Grade: C

#80 Jemelle Fleming, CB:  I watched this pick with my mom.  She kept pointing out before we took him that “the guy with funny hair says the Cards need one of those T guys.  And it says that Bobby Massie kid plays a T and should have gone 60 picks ago.  Why don’t the Cards take him?”  My mom gets it.  How do the Cards not get it?  Of course they got him in the 4th, which I’m ecstatic about, but they got LUCKY.  I mean starting RT falling out of the sky lucky.  There was very little reason for Massie’s fall.  But we’ll get to him next.

I love this Fleming kid.  Absolutely Love.  To be honest I hadn’t seen any film on Fleming till he was picked.  The guy is a PLAYMAKER.  And exudes confidence.  He’s a great BPA at this point, and should push Toler for the starting bid.  He basically will make us forget about losing… (uh, I honestly just forgot his name right now, Ha!) err… that corner who played opposite PP21 and backed up safety.  This kid will also, finally, make the Cards get rid of Michael Adams.  He’s even a better special teamer than Adams.

Seriously though, how many corners do you need?  Fleming and Bethel makes 9. 9! I don’t remember Ferris being absent 9 times… sorry… love me some John Hughes.  Man is that a crowded depth chart.  I think Toler and Fleming will be neck and neck when camp closes, (hopefully Toler comes back in full form).  So he’ll contribute this year, but to grab a CB4 over, I don’t know, say… a RT1.  What the heck?  I mean I totally believe in BPA, but this is extremist BPA.  This is orthodox BPA.  This is myopic.  Massie made perfect sense here and, I’m glad they got lucky, but I’m wondering if they might have been better off grabbing Massie and Zebrie Sanders over Massie and Fleming.  They are weak on the offensive line.  Strong at CB.  They continue to flat out ignore Need.  I don’t even think they say the word need in the War Room.

Grade: B (Because they got lucky)

#112 Bobby Massie, T: I called my mom right after the pick and asked if she could guess who the Cards got with #112.  That’s right she nailed it.  We bonded.  Mel Kiper had Massie as his #21 overall pick.  That’s a 91 spot drop out of the 1st round.  What a fall.  Who cares?  We landed him.

Let’s start off by saying this kid is a project.  But not so much of one that he couldn’t start at RT after camp concludes.  He’s big, has athletic movement, long arms, and is a good pass protector.  So right out of the gates you might ask why would he fall to the 100’s?  I don’t know.  No one’s saying much.  I think they just saw him as young (junior) and a bit immature.  They question his work ethic, which is a concern.  But not much of one.  Word is that he left early because his family is in financial trouble.  Had he stayed many think he would have been an elite Tackle in next year’s draft.  The Cards need to take this kid under their wing and protect him.  Ironically, just like Michael Oher’s momma did.  (Go Ole Miss)

As for negatives on the field, he needs to work on his footwork (who doesn’t) and his lack of strength is a big concern.  I believe Grimm will iron that stuff out.  After starting at RT this year, I fully expect him to supplant Levi at LT following camp in 2013.  This could be the starting tackle we’ve been waiting for since Mike Gandy.  If he is, there is no doubt he’s the steal of the draft.  FINALLY, the Cards take BPA and Need at the same time.  (I’m scared to even ask if Whiz thought T was a need before this selection.) 

Grade: A+

#151 Senio Kelemete, G: Finally they pick a guard.  This is a quality guy.  Two time captain. Can play T or G, although he’s a no-brainer for G.  A good team player.  Maybe he pushes Snyder out of RG and into his rightful position as backup.  Maybe not.  But he is a good addition to the team. Not a position of need though.

While researching how good teams found their lineman, I noticed teams like the Saints and Packers thrive on finding their guys in the 4th and 5th rounds.  Good teams don't rely on FA to fill spots on the line.  (unlike the Cards).  All the good teams found theirs via the draft.  (With the exception of the Giants.  However, it’s becoming more and more apparent that they are a product of Eli Manning and not a product of their line)

Grade: C

#177 Justin Bethel, CB/S:  ATHLETE.  This guy jumped onto some boxes 60 inches off the ground.  That’s… uh wow!  He has a 40 inch STANDING vertical.  So it’s fair to say this guy has hops.  He’s actually quick too.  Justin appears to be a project to back up Rhodes at FS.  He looks like a great pick if he develops.  But he doesn’t need to develop as a special teamer.  He's already a stud.  He blocked 9 kicks on ST. 9!  Add him to Calais and they might block a kick per game.  That’s a guy who impacts the team immediately.

Grade: B

#185 Ryan Lindley, QB:  Another steal.  Numerous national pundits said this kid is a steal in the later rounds.  It easy to see why.  He has an NFL body, an NFL arm, but John Skelton’s accuracy.  Sure he’s a project.  They’re all projects in the high 100’s.  He’s a great one though.  I think this kid will start one day and do well.  Interesting note: he was DeMarco Sampson’s QB in college. 

Grade: A

#221 Nate Potter, T:  All he did was start at LT for a freaking awesome Boise State team.  This kid is solid.  He has a great work ethic and has some natural ability.  He’s stiff, but he can play.  A good pass protector.  Another great 7th round find by the Cards. 

Grade: B

Overall Draft Grade: B

My speech to my staff if I bought the team in March

I’m excited about being the new owner of the Cards.  First of all, I think Graves is doing an amazing job as GM, however we’ve shown little progress in getting through to coach Whiz as to how dire the situation is on offense, so I’ve encouraged Rod to join me in an offensive philosophical overhaul.  He’s on board.   Whiz is also doing a fine job at head coach, but seems to be distracted from doing his job by getting too close to the offense.  I’ve made it clear to Whiz that he needs to remain focused on being a phenomenal head coach.  He’s on board.

Since we are severely limited to what offensive players we currently have we are going to modify our game plan.  A great passing offense needs a great QB.  Kevin Kolb is a good QB.  So we need to adjust the offense accordingly.  Instead of passing the ball 65% of the time, like we have Manning or Brees at QB,  we are going to bring that down to a more respectable 55%.  This will give him a good friend in the running game, and as a bonus he’s less likely to take hits and will reduce chances of a further concussion.  This will also slow the game down for him a bit and allow him to take in the offense at a more sensible pace. 

This also coincides with the strengths of Levi Brown who is the key to our Oline. He is dominant run blocker, but a poor pass protector.  Again, running the ball fits to his strengths.  The rest of the line will be built to compliment him and the run game.  We will draft his eventually replacement at LT this year and move him to his natural position at RT. 

Beanie Wells is a power runner and so we need to give him a steady diet of carries.  Probably close to 20 carries per game. He’s injury prone so the backup RB, Ryan Williams, will take some of the load off at about 10 carries.  Ryan will be a good change of pace back.  Again, a more dedicated running game compliments the talent we have. 

Fitz will still see his Hall of Fame share of targets.  And while play action will be in full effect, he will be a major focus of our offense.  Also, Doucet, Roberts, and Housler will see a good dose of targets complimentary to their skill level.  We know that due to the lack of time that Kolb was getting in the pocket that our 2nd and 3rd options were getting ignored.  We are going to give more time to Kolb by addressing the line and cutting down the # of pass plays.  The other WRs will be more involved with the game and opposing safeties won’t be allowed to double Fitz as much.  This is a quality vs. quantity argument.  It shouldn’t be “more passes make us a better passing team” as much as “efficient passes that play to our entire offense strengths will make us an efficient passing team.”

Since our line was ranked 31st in sacks given up and 27th in QB hits given up, I’ve strongly reinforced with Whiz that the line must be addressed this off season.  Since we don’t want to overspend in free agency and don’t feel that there is much out there that will give us the upgrade we need, we’ll be addressing the line through the draft.  This, of course, is what all the other great teams do (N.O., Pittsburgh, N.E., G.B.), but until this year the Cards have peculiarly not committed to it.  That changes now.

Our draft philosophy will blend a good balance of BPA and Need.  Unfortunately, we have only drafted BPAs in the past and missed out on some very good players that would have filled some holes we’ve had. (Akeem Ayers at SILB2 over Ryan Williams at RB4 or Justin Houston at LE2 over Housler at TE3 for example)  That also ends now.

All indications are that David DeCastro will be there at #13.  But since so many sought after players will be there, we’ve traded the pick to Tennessee for their #20 pick.  They want Michael Floyd and he wouldn’t fix the problems that we have now.  If DeCastro is not there than we will have plenty of good players available to take that would still fill need (Dont’a Hightower, Kendell Wright, Riley Reiff)  A little birdy told me we’ll get DeCastro anyway.  We’ve also had the fortune of seeing all the other teams draft boards and they don’t have Bobby Massie, the OT out of Ole Miss, pegged until the 4th.  That’s great for us, we can steal him in the 3rd and he’ll start for us at the RT spot.  He’s so good that he’ll replace Levi Brown at LT in 2013.  He’s a better pass protector than run blocker so we hope to have a major upgrade at QB by then so that we can get back to passing.  If not than he’ll be a great RT for us into the future.  This should bolster our line enough that we can proceed on with other needs.  All other players will fall under the BPA/Need philosophy as stated before.

This change in offensive philosophy compliments the players that we have and is modeled after the other great teams in the league.  Now that our defense and special teams are in the upper echelon, it’s time for our offense to catch up so we can go win a Super Bowl.  Enjoy the season.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A good CB in the 3rd Round

Ron Brooks, CB at LSU: I love guys that do all the little things that help you win games.  They usually don't show up in the stats, but every coach knows their value. 

Brooks was that guy for LSU.  He was 3rd on the CB list behind Claiborne and Mathieu and mostly played nickel.  He started a couple of games and came up big.  He had 3 career INTs for 3 TDs (Antrel Rolle).  He's physical and fast.  He clocked a sub 4.4 at the combine.  He hits hard.  A great pass rusher.  A great special teamer.  He's got the 'IT' in football smarts.  Has a great nose for the ball.  He just makes plays.  I don't think he's a supreme cover corner.  I see him as the best nickel corner in the league or a very good 2nd CB.  Maybe he'll grow into a great CB, but as he stands now he's the ideal nickel corner/special teamer/5th WR/backup safety/tiny DE that knocks the snot out of QBs. 

I like him.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

2 more WR to look at

Stephen Hill out of Georgia Tech is a tall (6-4) burner (4.4).  He has good hands and makes good on jump balls.  Guy has hops.  He's projected to go late first, so if the Cards want him they should trade down to get him.  I don't see him getting great separation.  That's troubling.  But the rest of the WR mold is there.

I was watching some film on Tannehill (just to see if I was missing something again.  I wasn't)  and I noticed one of his WR was making some good catches and great cuts.  Jeff Fuller looked like a college clone of Q.  He's tall (6-4) and big (225), but not much speed (Q).  I really liked what I saw.  CBS has him pegged around the 5th round because of a foot injury.  A great 5th round flier on a WR.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

7 Days till the 2012 draft

So we've got 7 days left and I thought I'd rehash our situation.  It's apparent that certain guys should be gone by the 13th pick. 

1.  Luck
2.  Griffin
3.  Kalil
4.  Richardson
5.  Claiborne
6.  Blackmon
7.  Cox
8.  Coples
9.  Tannehill

That leaves 3 players to go before the Cards pick.  Obviously there is going to be a surprise so those 9 aren't locked.  If one of the first 6 are there you nab him and thank the other idiot GMs on your way out.  (Except Griffin) Since that's not going to happen Let's looks at the guys that will be there. (As I say that, I've seen a couple of mocks that have Blackmon falling to the Cards.  If only.)

David DeCastro: Yes, I still have my man crush alive and well.  I think this guy is so good at RG that he'll make the RT look better.  And looking at the starting RT for the Cards right now makes me want him even more.  I also think he's as close to a lock for the HoF as you can get before he's even drafted.  Yes, I also know that this isn't a glaring need for the Cards, but guys like this break the rules when it comes to drafting for need.  He's so good in the BPA that he negates all talk of need.  Plus, its not like the line couldn't use some upgrading.

Riley Reiff:  I'm still not sold on the guy.  The Cards have a glaring hole at LT.  Levi Brown played well in the last half of the season all the way up to his brand new contract.  He scares me as the type of guy who ONLY plays well before contracts are redone.  Reiff fills a major need, but I don't see him as a dominant LT and see him more as a really good RT.  However, we could use an upgrade there too.  He at least addresses a major need at RT.  But you don't draft a guy at #13 at that position.  He's a safe pick, but not a superstar pick.

Luke Kuechly:  No.  He plays the same position as Darryl Washington only he's slower.

Melvin Ingram:  His greatest asset is his versatility.  He hasn't shown that he's a dominant pass rusher like Courtney Upshaw, but he's very good in coverage.  The problem is the 3-4 system relies on the OLB to put pressure on the QB.  I was sold early on his versatility.  But wonder how great of a fit he is here.  It won't matter.  Word is he'll be gone before the Cards anyway.  Just like V. Miller last year.

Michael Brockers and Dontari Poe:  We already have a 1st round DT.  And we only need one.  I like Brockers better.  He impressed me on the field.  Poe is the recipient of the "I'm only considered this high because I freakin' rocked at the combine" award. (yes, that's the official title)  No touchy touchy only looky looky.

Courtney Upshaw: I think I was a little hard on him last time around.  After looking at more film I like his hands.  They are deceptive.  He uses them to gain leverage in very subtle ways.  That's a major plus.  Plus, he gets results on the pass rush.  I don't like him at #13, but I wouldn't cry if they traded down and snagged him in the 20's.

Dont'a Hightower:  If the Cardinals are going to reach I think I'd reach here.  He's a strong intense dude that would fit perfect in the SILB where Paris is now.  Paris played great here, but he's late 30's now.  His time is almost up. Dont'a hits hard and will terrify QBs  and RBs with his hits.  I get more excited about him as the draft approaches.

Michael Floyd: A very gifted WR.  However, he's exactly like Fitz.  That may sound great in theory, but I'm more akin to grabbing a guy that compliments Fitz rather than plays a lot like him.  If we go WR, we need a burner.  Still, this guy is very good and would flourish in this kind of offense.  (you know, the passing kind)

Cordy Glenn: A Guard that they want to move to LT.  Let's see... where have I heard that before... Yeah, I don't want to replay Leonard Davis either.  He's no DeCastro and he's no Tackle.  Deuce part deux.

Kendell Wright:  I still love him.  If they can manage a trade intot the 20's I would steal him away.  PERFECT compliment to Fitz.  A burner with lots of passion.  I'm not scared of his 5-10ness. (Steve Smith)

Jonathan Martin: If Poe gets an award then so does Martin.  He gets the "Oh, you guys actually care about how much I bench press?" award.  The combine/work out he gave was dreadful.  Only idiots care though.  He was solid on the field for Stanford and will be a good pro.  Not as good as Kalil, but good.  He's smart, has great feet, and ran pro offense for 3 years.  If he has heart (always IF), he'll correct some bad habits and be very good.  Again, trade down to get him.

Mike Adams:  No.  Levi Brown II.