When it comes to the 7-1 record of the Arizona Cardinals, many of the key contributors are those drafted by the Cardinals. Whether it be the previous regime or the current, the Cardinals have done a good job of creating a team with depth at numerous positions.
Each level of the team has multiple players making an impact that came to the Cardinals via the draft (or undrafted free agency), but how fruitful have the last three drafts been? How much impact did the final Whisenhunt/Graves class produce? Is General Manager Steve Keim hitting on his draft picks the way he has hit on his free agents?
It is midterm time for the Arizona Cardinals, and we start with the 2012 Cardinals Draft Class under the microscope.
Much has been made about the Cardinals "moving on" in 2015 from Larry Fitzgerald and Floyd taking the mantle of best receiver on the team.
The problem becomes this -- is Floyd even the second best receiver on the team?
The difference between being a dominant physical specimen and great receiver is bigger than most think and through eight games, and really since his inception into the league, Floyd has been a dominant physical receiver who has good games, but is not a great receiver.
Through eight weeks of the season Floyd's and rookie John Brown's (more on him Thursday) numbers are nearly identical, the difference being Floyd has more yards, 63, on one fewer catch. We think of Brown as the "deep threat" but Floyd has 17 targets beyond 20 yards, Brown has 15.
Floyd has six catches and two touchdowns on those targets with 25 yards coming after the catch, which is what sticks out the most, when you look at Floyd's numbers.
Of Floyd's 23 receptions on the season, I have 10 of them being on "jump balls", the other 13 are your normal catches.
Floyd has become a power forward more than a receiver through two and half seasons, and that is the problem.
On the year Floyd has 52 yards after the catch, the lowest total for any receiver in the NFL playing at least 50 percent of his teams snaps, and his 2.3 yards after catch average is sixth lowest in the NFL.
Is Floyd a good player? Absolutely. Is Floyd a dominant player? Yes. Can we put Floyd into a tier of wide receivers where he deserves to get paid $8 million a year (if the Cardinals pick up his fifth year extension and if my math is right, the former much more likely than the latter)?
That's the question (the $8 million question).
Bruce Arians has shown the ability to evaluate and grow wide receivers throughout his career. If the Cardinals are going to move on from Larry, then absolutely pick up Floyd's extension, but if they want to keep Larry, then maybe it is okay to let Floyd go elsewhere.
Obviously this all comes back to the fact that through eight games, Floyd has been average, showing some flashes of brilliance -- San Diego, San Francisco and his touchdowns against Washington and Oakland, but he has also disappeared too much: Giants, Denver and of course Philadelphia.
The pace Floyd is on is not worth $8 million a year: 46/778/4, but Floyd's upside is definitely worth $8 million a year. The question is, can he make it there, and is that money that the Cardinals should spend? (Yes, I know the cap is going up.)
2014 Mid Term Grade: C
The thing that stands out about Massie now more than ever is that he is truly becoming an all-around player at the right tackle position.
He came into the NFL always being physically bigger and stronger than others and we all remember what that got him in his first eight games of his career, well it got him benched in 2013. Now, understanding the finer points, having excellent footwork, and getting better at aiming points on blocking, Massie has developed into the right tackle teams desperately need -- one who can be a bully in the run game, but also one that can do just enough to hold up in the passing game.
He is still susceptible to speed on the edge, but Massie's growth should warrant 2015 talks of an extension, something in the five-yea,r $20-25 million range just based on his play, and room for growth.
2014 Mid Term Grade: A
What happens when a player is a star, but no one knows it?
That's the question with Justin Bethel, who is on the way to becoming this generation's Steve Tasker, as a special teamer.
Sure his impact on the defense is limited, but his impact on the overall game is immeasurable. While everyone wants to become a star at a position that's in the limelight, sometimes that is not your calling. That's what Bethel has embraced so far, a willingness and an understanding that his impact on the game may not be as often, but it will be just as important.
Maybe his time comes to be an impact defender, but if it does not, you know he'll be the best special teams player in the league as long as he's under contract.
2014 Mid Term Grade: A