In 2012, hope was high for the Cardinals. John Skelton had just helped the Cardinals rebound from their 1-6 start, to an 8-8 finish. They were going into the offseason with high hopes for the 2012 campaign, hoping for a strong draft.
We all know how 2012 turned out, starting 4-0 and finishing the season 5-11 with Whisenhunt getting the boot. His last draft class looked like this:
|1||13||Michael Floyd||Wide Receiver||Notre Dame|
|4||112||Bobby Massie||Offensive Tackle||Ole Miss|
|6||185||Ryan Lindley||Quarterback||San Diego State|
|7||221||Nate Potter||Offensive Tackle||Boise State|
Most of us know what has happened to these guys. A few are with the team, while most have moved on. When this group was initially drafted, we saw a lot of potential steals. We saw a valid opposite corner to Patrick Peterson, a tackle and a guard that looked like they could be future stars. Let's examine who those may be.
Floyd has had his moments. His rookie campaign was unimpressive, but after an explosive finish against the 49ers, we were all licking our chops for the next season. In 2013 he was impressive, cracking 1000 yards and five scores. He regressed a little in 2014, but he had a career high in yards per catch and touchdowns. He's been an inconsistent product in his three seasons, but with 2015 being a make a break year we will see if he's worth re-signing. If we're grading him, he's been a solid B. Plenty of upside, mixed in with big drops and plenty of times he had us scratching our heads.
With Fleming we all had hoped we had the best corner duo in the league. He was not as big as Peterson, but he had an impressive collegiate resume. He went on to start three games his first year, but was put in Hortons dog pound for a lack of effort and entitlement. He would finish 2012, and never play snap for the Cardinals again. He's currently with the Chiefs, and had his best year to date. For all this, he receives a D-, for possessing a lot of talent, but a poor character.
Massie would start all 16 games as a rookie, mightily struggling the first eight, before packing it in for the final eight. He went into the 2013 season with promise, but as he got to training camp, he struggled again. He was now learning a zone blocking scheme, and would be replaced by Eric Winston. For the majority of the season he was active but did not see the field except for special teams. That changed towards the end, as he would split reps with Winston. In 2014 he was given the reigns and did not disappoint.
His biggest weakness is speed rushers. He can stonewall a bull rush, but he struggles against smaller rushers, who use their speed moreso than strength. He's been solid, but like most players, he's a guy you can upgrade from. For now though, he receives a C+ for his play, and has more opportunities to shine.
When Kelemete was brought in there was some rumbles that he should start over Adam Snyder. As the season progressed we all quickly got fed up with Snyder and called for anyone to start in his place. Snyder would only play in 14 games. Kelemete however, did not start in his place, but instead found his way onto the field in the season finale, and looked promising. He looked excellent in the run game, but showed he needed some work in pass protection. Once the coaching change took effect, Kelemete was unable to survive the turnover. He was cut and did not play in 2013. In 2014 however, he played in 10 games with the Saints.
Since Kelemete had zero impact with the team his grade is deservedly an F, seeing as how with poor guard play, he could not step up.
Bethel has for years been a promising prospect for the secondary. However, for three consecutive years, he's been among the leagues elite special team players. He has two consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl for his work as a special teamer, and even had some looks at corner. He came into the league as a safety, and stayed there under Hortons tenure, but Bowles moved him to corner and it looks as if it has paid off for him. In the few plays he's had as a cover man, he stays close to his man, and is usually quick to the ball. If he doesn't defend the pass, he's quick to tackle.
He has promise as a corner, but the majority of his grade is based off his excellent special teams play.
Perhaps the player we most know from this class. Lindley was forced into a bad situation in 2012, and threw seven interceptions, no touchdowns, and recorded the Cardinals only win since week four. Many were shocked when Arians kept Lindley in 2013, and relieved when he was cut in 2014. Lindley's departure was only temporary. When Palmer went down, they brought in Lindley to back up Stanton. Once Stanton went down, Lindley was handed the start against Seattle. The outcome was a 35-6 shellacking, in which Lindley only threw one pick.
Lindley would go on to finish with two touchdowns, to his four picks. Throwing one touchdown to two picks in the playoffs. His 2012 situation was bad, but his play in 2014 was hardly better. Whether that was because his confidence was shot as a rookie or if he is really truly horrible will be up for debate.
Potter played in eight games for 2012, starting six. He was more of a technical tackle, being bullied by the bull rushers. He survived the coaching overhaul in 2013 because Arians admired his ability to play both guard and tackle. He would back up Levi Brown in 2013, before the Cardinals managed to trade Brown to the Steelers a few weeks into the season. We all believed Potter would be the incumbent to start, but Bradley Sowell came in and stole the show.
In 2014, Jared Veldheer was acquired, Sowell remained with the team, while Potter was released with an injury settlement. Not much was expected of Potter as a seventh round pick, but he did manage to have a few solid performances.
Overall this class had promise. The second round pick was traded for Kevin Kolb, which the Eagles traded to the Packers, and the Packers wound up selecting Jerel Worthy. Worthy was described as explosive, yet lazy and complacent.
Usually if you can get three picks to hit the mark, you can succeed in the NFL. This being Whisenhunts last class as the Cardinals head coach, he was brought down by his 2008, 2007, and 2009 draft classes. How does his final class grade out?
Final Grade: D-
Despite hitting on three guys, and finding a special teams ace, the class was really poor all around, finding depth players and a bust.