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Arizona Cardinals game-by-game draft grades: Week 8 review

We missed game six, but there was plenty of good over the last two weeks as the Cardinals stand at 6-1, with some great contributions from their recent draft classes.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After the Raiders game there was a little bit of Intrigue into how the rookies were playing, but the week and other commitments got the best of me and I missed my grading column, so those grades will be added on, and next week will be something a little different as I attempt to break down the individual classes in a midterm style grading, then look back at my grades from 2012 and 2013 for each class as well.

This week though, well 6-1 is a heck of a drug, so let’s enjoy it with some quick thoughts and grades on what the last three draft classes have done.

Again, the grades are only reflective of games this season, so I do not care what happened last year.

2012 Cardinals Draft Class

Michael Floyd: He had no catches and two drops. Part of the piece I am working on for next week's article shows some of the issues Floyd has as a receiver in general. Whether that is because of his own doing or how the team is using him I do not know, but the results have not been great this year.

Against the Raiders, he made a great play on his receiving touchdown, but he’s doing most of his damage with the ball in the air, not with the ball in his hands.

This was also the first time since week two of his rookie season that Floyd did not catch a pass.

Game 6- B
Game 7- F

Projected 2014 numbers: 43 catches 806 yards 4 TDs

Bobby Massie: Massie continues to be the best offensive lineman by grade for me. Week in and week out he is the high man in run game grades, and he has done an above average job in protection this season. Against the Raiders and Eagles I had him down for one quarterback disruption. Pro Football Focus had him for three.

Game 6- A
Game 7- A

Justin Bethel: It proved interesting that when Peterson went out with a concussion Bethel only saw one defensive snap. The Cardinals went with "four safeties," moving Mathieu into the slot.

We’ll see if Bethel makes anymore progress on defense, but four snaps in three of his four games on defense is tough to grade.

On the flipside, he’s the best special teamer on the outside in the NFL.

Game 6- A
Game 7- A

2013 Cardinals Draft Class

Kevin Minter: After playing his most snaps (percentage wise) and best game of the season because of it, Minter saw his lowest amount (percentage wise) of the season.

It’s really tough, because teams are making a point to throw the ball when Minter is in the game, and the Cardinals react by removing him.  He’s been really good against the run when he has a chance to play it though.

Game 6- A
Game 7- B- (Four snaps against the run 16 overall lowers grade)

Tyrann Mathieu: He’s getting closer. There is still some hesitation to his game, especially against the run, but he’s moving more and more freely in coverage and is getting closer to getting home on blitzes.

Game 6- B
Game 7- A-

Alex Okafor: After being the toast of the Cardinals boards, he’s seen a staggering decline in play. He’s not generating any type of pressure on the quarterback and he’s been rather ineffective at the point of attack against the run.

Okafor looks like a guy who needs limited reps so he can utilize his motor to make plays, but that is not an option right now. Maybe he can regain his form in the upcoming games as the Cardinals start to get healthy again on defense, but the lack of production from their OLBs is alarming.

Game 6- C
Game 7- C-

Stepfan Taylor: His performance against the Raiders was the closest thing we’ve seen to Larry Centers since, well, Larry Centers. Now he’s out for "a while".  That’s the NFL.

Game 6- A
Game 7- Inc (Injury)

Andre Ellington: His work against the Raiders was probably on the heavy side, but he’s still not quite the dynamic runner we were hoping to see. He averaged 3.7 yards per carry against the Raiders and it dipped down to 3.1 against the Eagles, Ellington is becoming a work horse back, not a change of pace back. It’ll be interesting how the Cardinals address the position in the off season. if Marion Grice does not step up, the wear and tear on Ellington, who is on pace for over 350 touches and almost 1,700 yards, could mean a replacement will be needed soon.

Game 6- B+
Game 7- C+

2014 Cardinals Draft Class

Deone Bucannon: Something we have discussed before was how when Bucannon plays, Minter sits, and vice versa. Well, the Raiders game was Bucannon’s lowest snap count of the season, while the Eagles game was the most he has played.

Outside of the outstanding pass break up of Ertz in the end zone in the final serie, Bucannon had his best overall game in coverage of the season.

What he did on Sunday against the Eagles was more in line of what the Cardinals need from him in terms of play, maybe not his best game against the run, but very good coverage, and even got close on a blitz…finally.

Game 6- C+
Game 7- A-

Kareem Martin: He played 10 mostly uneventful snaps. Clearly his inability to make plays rushing the passer means more time for the human roadblock in Ed Stinson, who has been slightly more effective as a pass rusher, while also being stout against the run.

Game 6- Blah
Game 7- Blah(er)

John Brown: I went back and looked at some of the reactions on draft day from ROTB, AZSports, and Twitter to the pick of Brown. People are funny.

Brown made a huge catch against the Raiders while absorbing a great hit.

Of course, we all know about the game winner on Sunday.

Smokey is one of the reasons I advocate waiting on receivers in the draft, but that’s another article for another day.

Game 6- B+
Game 7- A

Ed Stinson: He might just be the most impactful defensive pick thus far, and if not for John Brown’s breakneck ability deep, you might be able to take the "defensive" descriptor away and call him the most impactful pick of the class period.

Stinson has been able to step in and become a rock against the run, and has been better than I thought he would be rushing the passer.

He’s never going to be an All Pro, a Pro Bowler, or even a highly paid player, but he’s exactly what a great run defense needs -- someone willing to absorb blocks, but also someone that can shed them and make plays.

Game 6- A
Game 7- B

That’s through seven games, we had another Jon Cooper sighting against the Eagles, but that’s fairly inconsequential at this point.

What are your thoughts on the last three Cardinals classes?