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2015 success for Arizona Cardinals all about 2013 draft class living up to expectations

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Can Cooper, Minter and Mathieu step it up?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the Arizona Cardinals under Steve Keim and Bruce Arians, everything seems to be different than before.  This is a good thing, the most successful head coach and general manager duo since the Cardinals have moved to the desert will look to take the next step in 2015 and to do so, they will need their very first draft class to finally live up to the hype.

Arizona Cardinals 2013 Draft Grades:

Sports Illustrated: B+
Bleacher Report: A
NFL.com: B
CBS Sports: A
Arizona Sports (me): A

That's a lot of praise, but for all the praise before they stepped on the field, the 2013 draft class has struggled with one key aspect -- getting on the field. For the 2013 group, all that was expected has resulted in the playing a combined 3798 snaps out of a possible 13,143 snaps played and 2042 of those snaps have been played by players drafted on Day 3.

Now people should not be worried about the lack of snaps from Day 3 players, those snaps should always be considered icing on the cake, but from the 2013 draft class, Jonathan Cooper has played 189 snaps, Kevin Minter 326 snaps and Tyrann Mathieu leading the entire class with 1241 snaps played in two seasons.

The best player in the 2013 class is often debated between being Mathieu and part time running back Andre Ellington, who for all his good has only been on the field for 44 percent of snaps available in his time.

The lack of impact from the 2013 draft class is obviously identifiable, they haven't been healthy, but that also means their play has not been graded and that the front office is still waiting to see if they can be trusted as players down to build around.

It also means that players you drafted have not filled the holes they were drafted to fill, so they are having to double dip as an organization and bring in free agents, or use more draft capital in order to address issues that were, in theory, already addressed.

When it comes down to it, 2015 is a big season because it is Year 3 for these players and some have not even played a half of season worth of snaps thus far, so getting on the field and actually showing what they can do is important.  It is also a big season because the time on the Carson Palmer clock is ticking, and the Cardinals cannot afford to miss an opportunity because they are still waiting on their early investments to start showing return.

While the year may be 2015, it may be all about the 2013 class living up to expectations for the Arizona Cardinals to reach their full potential, and have a shot at hoisting the Lombardi at the end of the year. And lets face it, with a healthy Carson Palmer, those are the expectations for the 2015 Arizona Cardinals.