So folks, we are half way through the season now and it is time to start grading the performances of the rookies up to this point. I will assign each player that was drafted this year a grade and give my reasoning on why I think they deserved the grade that they received. Keep in mind, I will be giving them the grade not only based on how they have played, but also where they were drafted.
Let's just jump right into this thing. Details are after the jump.
Peterson has absolutely lived up to his fifth overall pick status up to this point. He has become the Cardinals' best corner in a matter of weeks and he is easily their most dynamic special teams player. Many, including myself, thought he might have more struggles in his transition to the NFL than he actually has, but he has been spectacular. The only thing he needs to improve upon is cutting down on the penalties. We know that he is a physical cornerback and that he loves to rough up the receivers, so over time, he will learn how to do that without drawing a flag.
Williams was drafted in the second round by the Cardinals in anticipation of him becoming the second head of a monster that contained him and Beanie Wells. The perfect compliment to Wells, Williams would have added a totally different dynamic to the running game with his speed and cutting ability. Unfortunately, he was injured during a preseason game against the Packers, tearing his patella tendon. From that, surgery was required and we have not been able to see him play in the regular season this year. Fans can definitely look forward to seeing what this guy has to offer when he comes back next season, though.
The third round selection from Florida Atlantic University, Housler was brought in to be a tight end that could line up anywhere on the field and create havoc on the opposing defense. His size and athleticism, along with a good set of hands are the reasons he was drafted by the Cardinals. Up to this point, though, we have seen limited playing time for the rookie. He has been on and off the field because of his poor blocking ability, but that has somewhat improved over time. Many of us even expected him to play more while Todd Heap has been out with a hamstring injury, but Housler has been injured himself, leaving Jim Dray to take over. It will be interesting to see how the depth chart pans out when both Dray and Housler are healthy. Housler has shown flashes of being a very good player, but he must improve his blocking if he wants to see an increase in time on the field.
It was reported that Joey Porter had his knee scoped a couple of weeks ago, which was the determining factor in allowing Sam Acho to get the start at outside linebacker. The fourth round pick from Texas has done everything the coaching staff has asked of him thus far. He has been praised by Ray Horton as one of the smartest players on the team and his youth and pass rushing ability have given him the reps he needs to improve his game. He has transitioned quite well coming out of college as a defensive end and having to convert to a linebacker. He gets to the quarterback with ease, collecting three sacks and a forced fumble already this season. I expect him to stay on as the starter even when Porter does return from his injury.
The Shermanator has become an excellent player in his short time on the team. While playing fullback, he has created numerous holes, allowing Beanie Wells to pick up massive amounts of yards at times. It was quite noticeable when Sherman could not play last week, as run plays that involved a fullback did not go anywhere. On top of his great play at fullback, the fifth round pick from UCONN has become one of the best special teams players on the Cardinals' roster. He is always in on the tackles and is able to wrap up in the open field, making him a much needed commodity on this football team. He has already brought great value as a fifth round pick.
Sturdivant was brought in as a project inside linebacker, but was unable to make it out of training camp and onto the 53 man roster. Ken Whisenhunt noted early on that he lacked communication skills and was not making the plays that he was supposed to. From there, he was cut by the team, but re-signed to the practice squad to help develop his talents. It is unknown if he will ever find his way to the roster, but if he does, it would likely be in a special teams only role.
Being taken as the second sixth round pick, Carter has shown that he is more than capable of backing up former first round pick Dan Williams at nose tackle. He has even pushed Williams for playing time throughout the season, demonstrating that he has what it takes to play at a high level in this league. During his time on the turf, he has racked up a sack and a forced fumble, while also being a force against the run. He is easily the best value pick the Cardinals had this year and is only going to get better.
The final player taken in the 2011 draft by the Cardinals, Sampson showed up in training camp as a big and capable wide receiver coming out of San Diego State. Because of that, he found a spot on the 53-man roster as one of the six wide receivers. He is listed as #4 on the depth chart, but has primarily seen his time on the field in the form of special teams. He is just another great late round pick by Rod Graves and director of player personnel, Steve Keim.
What do you think of these grades? How would you rate the performances of each of the rookies up to this point? Who has been the most valuable rookie to you? Leave your comments below.