The Cardinals were viewed as a dark horse team, following an excellent draft class. However, it has begun to fall apart. You could compare this to a cheeseburger that arrives at your table, looking exactly how it does in the menu, only to crumble, and get ruined the moment you pick it up.
The Cardinals draft class featured a lot of players that we labeled as "steals". And two of the "steals" have seen their way to ending their season. Even with that, there are a number of players that have "underperformed" for our expectations. Let's take a look.
Round One: Jonathan Cooper
Cooper was drafted to solidify our O-Line, and he was doing just that, until his untimely injury in the early part of the third quarter against the Chargers in preseason.
Round Two: Kevin Minter
Status: Injured/Limited Defensive Snaps
Minter has seen a lot of plays on special teams, but has yet to see much time on Defense. A bad hammy kept him out of the game against the Saints. It's TBD about his chances to play this week, we should know more come tomorrow, although I doubt that he gets much playing time if he is healthy.
Round Three: Tyrann Mathieu
Status: Significant Snaps
Mathieu has, as unbiasedly as I can, made a solid bid early on for Defensive ROY. In three games he has made the highlight reel, and has already been a player teams are scheming against. Saints coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees, had nothing but positive notes to say about Mathieu. He's certainly near the top of my list of DROY.
The news broke Tuesday that Okafor had a biceps tear and would miss the remainder of the 2013 season. He was inactive in Weeks One and Two, was activated in Week Three, and is believed that is when he tore his biceps, making him our third OLB to go down that game.
Watford has been inactive for all three games, and that is unlikely to be different heading into Week four.
Round Five: Stepfan Taylor
Status: Limited Offensive Snaps
After a strong preseason, he was listed as the number three back on the depth chart. However, in Week One, the guy listed as number four, Andre Ellington, saw more Offensive snaps than did Taylor. That trend continued into Week Two. Week Three saw Taylors first offensive snaps, recording one catch for two yards. It appears that Arians has grown fond of Ellington, and Taylor will likely remain limited to special teams for the time being.
Round Six: Ryan Swope(1) Andre Ellington(2)
Status: (1) Retired (2) Significant Snaps
Swope retired at the recommendation of his doctors, after suffering a concussion diving for a ball during OTA's. Swope has the option to be reinstated into the NFL, next offseason, and Arizona has his rights if they decide to keep him.
Ellington had an on and off, preseason. He showed flashes, but also showed he was an unfinished product. However... He took flight in Week One, making several key catches, only to be the goat of the game at the end, as he and Carson Palmer were not on the same page during a wide open wheel route, that would have given Arizona the lead late in the game. He rebounded in Weeks Two and Three, as he caught a TD pass in Week Two, and was a key contributor in the Cardinals only score in Week Three.
Round Seven: DC Jefferson
Status: Active Weeks1/2, Limited Snaps
Jefferson was up and down this preseason. Making catches that made you go "WOW" and dropping others that we all screamed "My GRANDMOTHER catches better than you!". Not much was expected of him this season, as he is a very raw talent. He is not likely to be active this week as the Cardinals face off against his former College coach, who made him the raw TE he is today.
As you can see, six of our first eight selections have not contributed all that much. Three of them had their seasons/career cut short.
Did Keim and Co. blow their first draft? It's too early to tell, but losing three of nine draft selections to IR/Retirement, and having four others either inactive, or see very few snaps on their side of the ball, is not a good sign.
Only time will tell if guys other than Mathieu and Ellington will produce this season, but it looks very unlikely.