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Cardinals vs. Redskins: How did the 2012-2014 draft picks play?

The Arizona Cardinals are one of the best teams in the NFL despite the recent rash of injuries, that has a lot to do with the fact the Cardinals are drafting well.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals are 4-1 with three of those games played by a backup (and Logan Thomas) while losing nearly their entire starting front seven from 2013 (only Dan Williams remains). You can say a lot of things about this Arizona Cardinals team, but one thing is certain, the play of the young kids has been huge in their 4-1 start.

How did they fair in Week 4? Let’s grade em’.

Michael Floyd: That’s what the endzone looks like Mr. Floyd. Hopefully you become more acquainted over the next 10 weeks, but one thing is for sure, that was needed.

I graded this play (just to peel back the curtain a little) as a ++ for Floyd and a – for Palmer. I felt like Floyd completely bailed Palmer out on the throw, the type of thing that we have talked about Floyd needing to do more of moving forward, but I think it is safe to say you want to see more from Floyd still, that’s why even with the TD, you don’t see the "A" game we’ve seen in previous games.

On Pace:
51rec 979 yards 4 TDs

2014 Grades: 
Game 1- A
Game 2- C
Game 3- A
Game 4- C-
Game 5- B

Bobby Massie: It is fitting that after four weeks of grading the Cardinals you hear Bruce Arians talk a little bit about the Cardinals and how their players graded out on film.  While I can’t speak to how they come up with their "90%" I can say that this was the second best game I graded Massie in through five games, and another "A" performance.

What sets Massie apart from the rest of the line through five weeks is that he actually moves people in the running game consistently, the only offensive lineman I have graded that does this weekly. Massie’s "poor" performance against the Broncos had more to do with his inability to get a push in the run game, rather than the two plays everyone remembers by Von Miller.

2014 Grades: 
Game 1- B
Game 2- A
Game 3- A
Game 4- C
Game 5- A

Justin Bethel: He did not play defense and was called for a penalty on specials, definitely not his strongest game of the season.

2014 Grades: 
Game 1- A
Game 2- A
Game 3- A- (B in coverage) 
Game 4- A
Game 5- B

2013 Cardinals Draft Class

Kevin Minter: This is getting kind of tough right now. Minter’s snaps continue to drop, and in reality his play is being impacted, because he is not on the field.

There’s no room to call Minter a bust, but we are getting closer to the time of asking, "If he’s this limited, why was he drafted?" I do not think he is this limited, in fact, I’d wager a guess that he’d be just as impactful as Larry Foote getting Foote’s snaps.

Now he PROBABLY is not the leader defensively on the field that Foote is, which cannot be discounted with the number of injuries, but from a purely production point of view, I cannot say with any certainty that Foote is a better player than Minter.

2014 Grades: 
Game 1- C+
Game 2- A-
Game 3- C-
Game 4- B (Would be higher if his snaps were higher)
Game 5- C (Because of playing time)

Tyrann Mathieu: It was definitely not the cleanest game from Mathieu, as you can see he is still a step away, but it was important to see him get and hold up over 50 snaps, and play relatively well (Let’s all argue on where he should have been on the Jackson touchdown on another thread).

The one thing I will say is I do not understand removing Tony Jefferson for Tyrann Mathieu. While Rashad Johnson had a great game, I do not see him being the playmaker Jefferson or Mathieu can be.

Game 5- C+

Alex Okafor: Welcome to the NFL Mr. Okafor, and football gods thank you for allowing him to start against Tyler Polumbus, who may well be the worst right tackle in the NFL.

You have to take what you are given, and in this case, Okafor was given a gift in the form of a right tackle that could not block me, he’s given up seven sacks already on the season, and is one of the least effective run blockers in the NFL.

In that, you get the chance to excel, and Okafor did that.

Two sacks gives the Cardinals outside linebackers...two sacks on the season. Now, it is about continuing forward and doing something similar, like maybe one sack, against the Raiders, who are one of the best offensive lines in pass protection on the season.

Color me intrigued.

Game 5- A-

Stepfan Taylor: Raise your hand if you had Washington being the game that Taylor played his most snaps in?  Taylor saw 16 offensive snaps, three of which were carries for 10 yards, seven of which were on pass routes, which one was a catch for no yards, and six were blocking, two in the running game and four pass protecting.

If this is how Taylor is used, as a fullback, then I can get behind that, as long as it is Robert Hughes snaps going away and not Andre Ellington’s.

2014 Grades
Game 1- A
Game 2- D
Game 3- C
Game 4- B
Game 5-C

Andre Ellington: Speaking of Ellington, I think we are all seeing what Jess and I spoke about our "worries" with Ellington would be. He gets as worn down during the game as the defense does, so he is not making the big runs we are expecting.

He’s averaging under four yards a carry now for the season, because he’s chugging out a lot of negative/short positive runs and not getting any chunk yardage.

The other interesting thing is, with Palmer back, Ellington had nine targets and six catches on the day for 26 yards.  He’s just not producing, game to game, the explosive plays we were hoping for.  Look at Ellington’s on pace numbers.  If I told you before the season that he would get 260 carries and 60 catches, you’d have told me he could be a 2000 yards from scrimmage player, but the reality is this is what he is on pace for so far:

260 carries 976 yards rushing 3.8 ypc 3 TDs
61 catches 601 yards receiving 9.8 ypc 3TDs

Those numbers in a vacuum are great, nearly 1600 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns?  Sign us up. It’s just becoming more volume numbers, not because of his playmaking.

In the history of the NFL, 425 players have received 259 carries or more in a season, and only 21 players have NOT gone over 1,000 yards.  Andre Ellington is on pace to be number 22.

All this being said, the results, to me, are more of an indictment of how really awful the offensive line has been in run blocking situations, and how Ellington may not be healthy still, and those two things combined make for some spectacularly unspectacular games.

2014 Grades
Game 1- B
Game 2- A
Game 3- C+
Game 4- B+
Game 5- B-

2014 Cardinals Draft Class

Deone Bucannon: Some interesting moments for Bucannon in his game against Washington. He missed a tackle and got beat in coverage a couple of times. I had him giving up four catches while Pro Football Focus had him at five, but he was around the ball a lot.

He looked good playing the run, playing 14 snaps against the run, and overall looked like he was in place to make plays much of the time, he just did not.

He’s growing and he’s learning, but with Philadelphia and Dallas on the way, he needs to get there.

2014 Grades
Game 1- B-
Game 2- B+
Game 3- C
Game 4- A-
Game 5- C

Kareem Martin: This is one I will struggle with and may come back to and fix later in the week or next week, but… Six snaps. SIX! This is getting, well, not what we were hoping to see.

He got pulled because he could not stand up against the run, after playing it well in the previous week.

Do you grade him or just ignore?

Based on how bad he was in his six snaps, he gets a grade.

2014 Grades
Game 2- INC
Game 3- B
Game 4- B
Game 5- D

John Brown: In 37 snaps he had four catches for 43 yards and about half his yardage, 16, came after the catch. It is a balancing act for Palmer, but I think we all were  a little over zealous on our projections for this offense in 2014.  Yes I know there were injuries, but I do not see anyone complaining about the San Francisco game for Floyd and Brown. He is on pace for 48 catches 499 yards  and 9TDs.

2014 Grades: 
Game 1- B+
Game 2- C+
Game 3- A
Game 4- D
Game 5- B-

Ed Stinson: What Kareem Martin is not in run defense, Ed Stinson was against Washington. He played 36 snaps, and did an excellent job against the run.

Stinson will never be a sexy player, because he does not bring a pass rush to the game, but what he does well is something that is important for any team that is trying to stop the run.

2014 Grades: 
Game 1- C
Game 2- B
Game 3- D *INC
Game 4- INC
Game 5- B+

How would you grade game five for the young guys?

Who impressed and who disappointed?

Through five games, this group is not playing bad at all, and they are helping keep the Cardinals afloat.