After taking a poll a couple after the pick was made, many of you actually did not seem overly depressed with the Cardinals snatching up cornerback Jamell Fleming in the third round. Many of you cited that the Cardinals are sticking to their board and drafting with the best player available approach, which is something that dominant franchises do. Not reaching for a tackle that will not contribute as much as Fleming can would not have been the best course of action.
So now that Fleming is their guy, how can he be expected to fit in with the rest of the defensive backs in the Cardinals secondary? What can we expect from him both short and long term?
Although the Cardinals already have plenty of cornerbacks on the roster, having plenty of skilled ones that are high to mid-round draft picks is never a bad thing. Last year, the team spent their first round selection on Patrick Peterson, a talented and dynamic player out of LSU.
Fleming, a former member of the Oklahoma Sooners, should be able to come in and vie for a spot as the nickel corner right away.
Think about the depth chart as it currently stands. Peterson is the undeniable #1 corner on the team. He is a starter no matter what next season. After that, it's just a bunch of question marks. Can Greg Toler recover from his ACL tear and return to pre-injury form? Is A.J. Jefferson going to take that big leap and secure the starting job this season? Or how about new acquisition, William Gay? Is he starting material?
From the looks of it, Fleming could probably get as high as the #3 corner on this team for the 2012 season. Whether or not that happens is unknown, but with the way things are as of now, it definitely remains a possibility. He has good physicality and awareness on the field, which makes him a prime candidate to become the team's nickel DB.
Also, Fleming adds the dynamic of being a versatile player. What I mean by this is that if the team chooses to do so, he could excel on special teams. With his speed and tackling ability, it seems like a no brainer to put him in the position to make plays. After losing Sean Considine (and probably Hamza Abdullah, at this point), Fleming could slide into their roles just perfectly.
As for the future, we can look at a scouting report created by mockingthedraft.com's Dan Kadar to get some insight:
There isn't a single area of Fleming's game that makes him a standout player. He's just a solid player. He's not overly deficient in any area and his play shouldn't hurt at team. Whoever drafts him, though, needs to realize his ceiling may be as a solid No. 2 cornerback.
If Peterson lives up to his potential, then the Cardinals really won't ever need more than a #2 anyhow. Fleming is a guy that can make timely plays and he won't give up big gains through the air. All the Cards need for him to do right now is to just learn and come into camp with a strong attitude.