04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Cardinals' picks: Round 3/80 - Jamell Fleming, CB, 5-11, 206, Oklahoma...It was a big surprise the Cardinals took a corner this high because they have talent at the position. But they love Fleming's quickness and strength and ability to play in space. QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm one of the best, I think, in my mind. I take special teams serious. When I was starting at corner, I was the leading tackler on special teams. I got a highlight reel just of special teams, throwing guys out of bounds and everything. I think that's one of the main reasons, too, why Arizona likes me, because I'm a hard worker and I'll do anything." -- Cornerback Jamell Fleming, the team's third-round selection. - The Sports Xchange
The NFL success of former Oklahoma cornerbacks has been mediocre at best. 2003 first-round pick Andrew Woolfork and hyped players like Dominique Franks, Derrick Strait, Antonio Perkins and Reggie Smith were drafted lower than most expected and haven't made much of an impact at the next level. If Fleming's junior season is an indication of what's to come, however, he could break that trend.
He spent his redshirt freshman (23 tackles) and sophomore (14 tackles) seasons starring on special teams, also providing depth at corner while waiting behind Franks and the rest of the team's usual veteran depth. But his production in his first year as a starter (71 tackles, 8.5 for loss, five interceptions, 14 pass break-ups) earned him first-team All-Big 12 accolades from league coaches and turned a cornerback group people thought would be the Sooners' weakness into a strength.
Fleming's not the biggest or fastest corner, and missed spring practices in 2009 and 2011 due to academic misconduct. But as long as he plays this fall with the physicality and ball skills he displayed during his break-out 2010 campaign, NFL teams will have a tough time passing him up as a potential starter in the top half of April's draft.
Positives: Should excel as a zone defender because of his closing speed to wrap receivers after the catch. Can deliver the big hit and isn't afraid to jump inside to slow the ball. Transitions well from coverage to close on the ball. Strong hands, quick reactions for the interceptions. Former high school receiver with good ball skills. Willing and successful blitzing off the edge. Consideration for move to safety with combination of range and sure tackling.
Negatives: Body type similar to 2003 first-round bust from Oklahoma, Andre Woolfolk. Questionable technique and he gets lazy with fundamentals, high in his backpedal and will breach the coverage call seeking flashy plays.