It is a yearly ritual for many experts and so-called experts alike to analyze each team’s draft picks and hand out grades appropriately. Often times classes are judged prior to the season beginning and shortly after it has ended. Then usually once more at the three year mark to truly judge its significance. This past year was no different.
Since Ken Whisenhunt has taken over as head coach the Cardinals’ drafts have grown stronger and stronger with 2011’s class being no different. He has strayed away from the strategy of drafting need and selecting the best talent on the board at the time of the pick.
First, lets quickly refresh our memories on the selections that were made.
1st Rd. 5th Pick Patrick Peterson
2nd Rd. 38th Pick Ryan Williams
3rd Rd. 69th Pick Rob Housler
4th Rd. 103rd Pick Sam Acho
5th Rd. 136th Pick Anthony Sherman
6th Rd. 171th Pick Quan Sturdivant
6th Rd 184th Pick David Carter
7th Rd 249th Pick Demarco Sampson
Unless, college football is the one sport you follow you may have only recognized one maybe two of these names come draft day. Patrick Peterson probably being the most recognizable. It is hard to determine what kind of talent each one of these men hold and what they will bring to the team. That being said Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN’s expert on analyzing draft talent, graded each team before and after the season.
His preseason grade for the Cardinals was a B-.
“At the time I graded the draft, before trades and free agency, I had to point out that Arizona didn’t do very well when it came to targeting needs. I had quarterback, outside linebacker and offensive tackle among its top three needs, and it went cornerback, running back and tight end with its top three picks.”
After a full season of playing in the NFL, and keeping in mind that due to the lockout the rookies were kept from OTA’s, minicamps, and participated in a shortened preseason, how did Mr. Kiper grade them?
A solid B.
Mr. Kiper improved his grade based on the fact that Patrick Peterson became easily the most feared punt returner in the league. He earned his way to the Pro Bowl by tying the NFL record for Punt Return Touchdowns (4) and becoming the only rookie to make the AP All-Pro Team.
Imagine what the grade could have been with a healthy Ryan Williams?
Mel also liked the selection of Sam Acho in the fourth round, which addressed a big need at linebacker. Acho provided depth early in the season and later earned his way to become a starter. He finished the season with seven sacks.
Although, the standouts were few this draft provided the Cardinals with some great depth players and potential stars on both sides of the ball. With the draft just a few short months away I look forward to keeping an eye on who Mel has slated as the next Arizona Cardinal.