Cardinals focus on taking best players in draft

The Sports Xchange
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Filling immediate needs was obviously not the Cardinals' priority in this draft.

They chained themselves to their draft board, avoided temptation to trade up or down, and took the best player available, regardless of position.

Conventional wisdom had them taking an offensive lineman early, but they didn't select one until right tackle Bobby Massie in the fourth round.

Instead, Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd was the first-round choice, with Oklahoma cornerback Jamell Fleming being selected in the third round.

The Cardinals sent their second-round pick to Philadelphia last summer as part of the trade for Kevin Kolb.

Cornerback was the least of the Cardinals' needs, yet they reasoned that it didn't make sense to pass on Fleming.

Taking talent over need worked for the Cardinals in the draft a year ago, coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

"A lot has been said about last year's draft and some of the players that performed for us," he said. "I think that was a good indication of not necessarily trying to fit a perceived need as far as taking players that were good fits for you."

BEST PICK

Tackle Bobby Massie: The Cardinals had to be tempted to take Massie in the third round but were rewarded for their patience when he was there in the fourth. Massie has a chance to start right away. The right tackle job is open, and the Cardinals think Massie has the ability to earn it.

COULD SURPRISE

Quarterback Ryan Lindley: The San Diego State quarterback has a strong arm and good size (6-3, 230 pounds). He's a project so he won't contribute for a couple of years. But he's smart and has ability. If Kevin Kolb and John Skelton falter over the next few years, Lindley could get a shot.

A closer look at the Cardinals' picks:

Round 1/13 - Michael Floyd, WR, 6-2, 220, Notre Dame

The Cardinals think Floyd is a lot like No. 1 wideout Larry Fitzgerald: big, physical and can make the tough catches. Receiver wasn't the club's greatest need but if Floyd listens to Fitzgerald and learns, they could be a dynamic combination.

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.

Round 4/ 112 - Bobby Massie, OT, 6-6,316, Mississippi

There was some speculation the Cardinals would take Massie in the third round, but they obviously were smart to wait. The right tackle job is open, and that's where Massie played in his three college seasons.

Round/151 - Senio Kelemete, G/T, 6-3, 300, Washington

Kelemete played left tackle at Washington but the Cardinals think he's a guard.

Round 6/177 - Justin Bethel, CB/S, 6-0, 199, Presbyterian

The Cardinals have had success with corners from small schools (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Greg Toler). Bethel joins a roster full of defensive backs. He blocked nine kicks in college.

Round 6/185 - Ryan Lindley, QB, 6-3, 232, San Diego State

He's a four-year starter with good size and a strong arm. His weakness is accuracy, completing 55.48 percent of his career attempts.

Round 7/ 221 - Nate Potter, OT, 6-5, 303, Boise State

A three-year starter and a steady player. A developmental project, the Cardinals won't expect him to play any time soon.

--The Cardinals had offers to trade down from No. 13 during the first round on Thursday night, but none were good enough to entice them to pass on Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd.

At 6-3, 220 pounds, Floyd gives the Cardinals another physical presence to go with Larry Fitzgerald.

"One of the things that was apparent this year...is how important field position has become with the new kickoff and the touchbacks and you're starting field position," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "When you really look at it, you have a player that can change field position really quickly. We feel it gives us a really good receiving corps."

Floyd is likely to start with Andre Roberts and Early Doucet battling for the third and fourth spots.

Floyd is another offensive playmaker the team has added over the past two offseasons, but the club has yet to see the expected production.

Quarterback Kevin Kolb didn't play well last year when he was healthy and he missed seven games with injuries.

Running back Ryan Williams missed his rookie season with a knee injury.

If the Cardinals can get decent play out of their quarterback, Kevin Kolb of John Skelton, then they should be able to score points next year.

Fitzgerald is one of the game's best, and he lobbied for the team to take Floyd.

"I think what we're going to be able to do with our tight ends and our receivers is going to be something that our coaches are excited about experimenting with this spring," Whisenhunt said.

The Cardinals had offers to trade back but they had placed a high value on Floyd, the highest rated player left on their board.

They needed a receiver and thought the drop-off after Floyd was stepper than the drop in talent after Iowa tackle Riley Reiff.

The Cardinals don't have a second-round pick, and it's hard to see them being willing to give up much to move into that round.

They're hoping an offensive lineman, preferably a tackle, is available in the third round.

In the end, Floyd's talent and size was too enticing to pass up.

"As you see highlights of this young man over the next couple of days, or even today, you can see some of those catches in the red zone, down the sideline," Whisenhunt said. "Those are the types of catches that you have to make in the NFL."

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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