2013 NFL Offseason: Arizona Cardinals
Draft Grades, Season Previews, Team Needs, Free Agents
Arizona Cardinals (Last Year: 5-11)
2013 NFL Draft Grade: B
Please note that the overall grade is not an average of all the individual grades. Other things are taken into account like team needs and goals.
Goals Entering the 2013 NFL Draft: At least two early picks must be spent on the offensive line. There's no doubt about that, especially given Carson Palmer's lack of mobility. A long-term quarterback and some pass-rushing help have to be obtained as well.
2013 NFL Draft Accomplishments: It turns out that the Cardinals were comfortable about their tackle situation after all, as they didn't draft a single player at the position. With Levi Brown coming back and Bobby Massie playing well at the end of the year, the interior was viewed as the more dire need. Arizona addressed that with Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford.
I'm not a fan of selecting a guard early in the first round because it's a position that can be addressed almost anywhere. However, there's no doubt that Cooper improves the team. Elsewhere, Kevin Minter and Alex Okafor figure to bolster the defense almost immediately.
The selection that drew the most attention was Tyrann Mathieu in the third round. Mathieu is an unbelievable play-maker who would have been chosen a round earlier if it weren't for his off-the-field issues. Those concerns are a bit quelled, however, because Mathieu did not test positive at the Combine. If he stays clean, he'll help Arizona defend against the read-option.
I liked Arizona's draft class overall. The team is still a long way from being in contention for the NFC West crown, but the Cardinals are at least moving in the right direction.
2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
7. Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina: D Grade
Everyone points to the Saints and their stud guards as a reason why Jonathan Cooper should have been chose No. 7 overall. Well, Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks were chosen in the fourth and fifth rounds. You can find guards anywhere, making this selection incredibly stupid. The only thing that saves this from being a Millen grade is that Cooper is one of the top players available. Still, there's no reason a guard should ever go in the top 10.
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45. Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU: B+ Grade
The Cardinals were starting Paris Lenon last year, so they absolutely had to find a complement for Daryl Washington. Kevin Minter was considered a fringe first-round prospect at one point, so Arizona is getting solid value for him in the middle of Round 2. He was not making it past Pittsburgh, so it's good of the Cardinals to snag him off the board.
69. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: B Grade
Cardinal fans love this pick. Awesome Kelly in Arizona just texted me: "Welcome to Phoenix, honey badger. Lots of WOAH WOAH WOOOOOOAAHH going on here." So, the fans are excited, but is this a good pick? I think it's pretty solid. Mathieu is a big risk considering his past, but he's a play-maker who will help defend the Seattle and San Francisco read-option offenses.
103. Alex Okafor, DE/OLB, Texas: A+ Grade
I love this pick. First of all, Alex Okafor is one of the top players available. He should have gone at some point in the second round, as some even thought he'd be a late first-round choice. Second, he fills a big need as a pass-rusher across from Sam Acho. Okafor, like Acho, is from Texas, so the Cardinals apparently think that's a good sign.
116. Earl Watford, G, James Madison: C+ Grade
This is a slight reach, but the Cardinals are once again targeting a big need area. Arizona had to find two new guards in the 2013 NFL Draft. Earl Watford may be able to start sooner rather than later, but only because of the lack of talent the Cardinals have at the position.
140. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford: A- Grade
Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams aren't exactly the most talented duo at the running back position, so it shouldn't surprise anyone if Stepfan Taylor emerges as the starter at some point. He could have easily gone a round earlier than this, so I really like this pick.
174. Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M: A+ Grade
Mike Jurecki said that the Cardinals were prepared to take Marquise Goodwin on Day 2, so Arizona deserves major credit for waiting until the sixth round for an equal prospect. Swope fell because of injury concerns, but he's still a steal for the Cardinals.
187. Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson: B+ Grade
The Cardinals weren't kidding when they said they were going to take the best player available. Andre Ellington will be the fourth running back on the roster, but he's a talented chance-of-pace player.
219. D.C. Jefferson, TE, Rutgers: B Grade
The Colts took two tight ends in the draft last year with Bruce Arians as the offensive coordinator, so this is no surprise. Arizona doesn't have much beyond Rob Housler at the position.
*** 2013 NFL TEAM NEEDS BELOW COMMENT BOARD ***
It's hard to believe that the Cardinals were once 4-0. They looked so impressive, winning at New England and then destroying the Eagles in consecutive September games. Unfortunately, things went downhill after that, as Arizona's once-promising 2012 campaign was capsized by injuries, terrible quarterbacking and some of the worst offensive line play this league has ever seen. Perhaps it was unfair, but Ken Whisenhunt paid the price, getting fired on Black Monday.
- Quarterback: This is obvious. The Cardinals have started Kevin Kolb, Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer and Max Hall since Kurt Warner retired. Arizona will probably select a signal-caller fairly early in the 2013 NFL Draft. Traded for Carson Palmer; signed Drew Stanton
- Offensive Tackle: Levi Brown will be coming back from a triceps tear, but needed to be upgraded anyway. Nate Potter's not the answer at left tackle either.
- Guard: Adam Snyder proved to be a bust free-agent signing. The Cardinals will likely give him one more year to prove himself, but they may spend a mid-round pick on some competition. Senio Kelemete, a fifth-round rookie from last year is there, but he was part of the old regime. Besides, he barely played in 2012. Drafted Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford
- Two Safeties: It was apparent to the coaching staff that Adrian Wilson regressed because they no longer used him on the field on every snap. Wilson was released. Kerry Rhodes was cut as well. Signed Yeremiah Bell; drafted Tyrann Mathieu; re-signed Rashad Johnson
- Rush Linebacker: Arizona lacks someone who can consistently get to the quarterback. Sam Acho is just OK, while O'Brien Schofield can't seem to stay healthy. Signed Lorenzo Alexander; Drafted Alex Okafor
- Inside Linebacker: Paris Lenon can't be allowed to start again. He was awful last year. Signed Karlos Dansby and Jasper Brinkley
- Cornerback: Greg Toler is a free agent, but Arizona already needed someone to challenge for the starting spot across from Patrick Peterson. William Gay was cut. Signed Jerraud Powers and Antoine Cason; traded Javier Arenas
- Running Back: Chris Wells was cut, while Ryan Williams simply cannot stay healthy. The Cardinals need a solution at this position, so they'll probably take a runner with a mid-round selection. Signed Rashard Mendenhall; drafted Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington
- Defensive End: The new front office needs to find some depth behind Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. The old regime was caught with its pants down when Dockett and Campbell missed time last year. Signed Matt Shaughnessy and Frostee Rucker
2013 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Karlos Dansby, ILB, Dolphins. Age: 31.
Signed with Cardinals (1 year)
The Dolphins went younger when they made a very minor upgrade by replacing Karlos Dansby with Dannell Ellerbe. Dansby is a very strong run defender who can still play all three downs. Unfortunately, he'll turn 32 in November.
Yeremiah Bell, S, Jets. Age: 35.
Signed with Cardinals
Yeremiah Bell had a surprisingly decent year for the Jets, but he'll be 35 in March.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers. Age: 26.
Signed with Cardinals (1 year)
An injury-prone Big Ten plodder with some talent, but not enough to make him very appealing.
Jerraud Powers, CB, Colts. Age: 26.
Signed with Cardinals
Jerraud Powers is young and has potential, but he's inconsistent and injury-prone. He hasn't played more than 12 games in any season.
Antoine Cason, CB, Chargers. Age: 27.
Signed with Cardinals (1 year)
Antoine Cason was torched on a weekly basis this past season. The former first-round pick is still young enough to turn his career around, but time is running out.
- Frostee Rucker, DE, Browns. Age: 29. -- Signed with Cardinals
- Lorenzo Alexander, DE/OLB, Redskins. Age: 30. -- Signed with Cardinals (3 years)
- Matt Shaughnessy, DE, Raiders. Age: 26. -- Signed with Cardinals (1 year)
- Jasper Brinkley, ILB, Vikings. Age: 28. -- Signed with Cardinals (2 years)
- Drew Stanton, QB, Colts. Age: 29. -- Signed with Cardinals (3 years)
- Jonathon Amaya (RFA), S, Dolphins. Age: 24. -- Signed with Cardinals
- Chilo Rachal, G, Bears. Age: 27. -- Signed with Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Kerry Rhodes, S, Cardinals. Age: 31.
Kerry Rhodes has had an up-and-down career, and it was definitely up last year. Rhodes was great in 2012 in all facets of the game. Unfortunately for him, he'll be 31 in August, so his best days are behind him.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Cardinals. Age: 29.
Signed with Bills
Kevin Kolb hasn't been officially released, but the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that it'll happen in the next couple of days. Kolb is a borderline starter for a team. He can be effective when on the field, as we saw when he threw eight touchdowns to just three picks in 2012, leading Arizona to a surprising 4-1 record to kick off the year. However, Kolb is very brittle. He's been injured every single season in which he was supposed to be the starter.
Adrian Wilson, S, Cardinals. Age: 33.
Signed with Patriots
Adrian Wilson is a former Pro Bowler, but he didn't play very well in 2012. In fact, he was demoted out of nickel packages. His starting days could be over.
Greg Toler, CB, Cardinals. Age: 28.
Signed with Colts
Greg Toler is a solid reserve cornerback who can start occasionally without killing a team. He played well at the end of the 2012 season.
La'Rod Stephens-Howling, RB/KR, Cardinals. Age: 26.
La'Rod Stephens-Howling is far from a starting running back in the NFL, but he can serve as an OK third-down back while contributing as a return specialist.
William Gay, CB, Cardinals. Age: 28.
Signed with Steelers
William Gay played well in 2011, but was torched consistently this past season. Gay (not that there's anything wrong with that) is just 28, so he could turn his career around. The Cardinals had no choice but to cut him, however, given that he was due $3.2 million in 2013.
Chris Wells, RB, Cardinals. Age: 25.
One of many Big Ten plodders on the market, Chris Wells is injury-prone and unreliable. He also can't contribute on third downs. He'd be good in a goal-line role only.
- Quentin Groves, DE/OLB, Cardinals. Age: 29. -- Signed with Browns (2 years, $2.8 million)
- Paris Lenon, ILB, Cardinals. Age: 35.
- Rashad Johnson, S, Cardinals. Age: 27. -- Re-signed with Cardinals (3 years)
- Brian Hoyer, QB, Cardinals. Age: 27. -- Signed with Browns (2 years)
- Nick Eason, DE/DT, Cardinals. Age: 33.
- James Sanders, S, Cardinals. Age: 28.
- Rich Ohrnberger (RFA), G/C, Cardinals. Age: 27. -- Signed with Chargers
- Michael Adams, CB, Cardinals. Age: 28.
- Stewart Bradley, ILB, Cardinals. Age: 29. -- Signed with Broncos (1 year)
- Early Doucet, WR, Cardinals. Age: 27.
- Adam Snyder, G, Cardinals. Age: 31. -- Signed with 49ers
- John Skelton, QB, Cardinals. Age: 25. -- Claimed by Bengals
- D'Anthony Batiste, OT, Cardinals. Age: 31.
- Pat McQuistan, OT, Cardinals. Age: 30.
- Vonnie Holliday, DE/DT, Cardinals. Age: 37.
2013 NFL Free Agent Positions:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades
2013 Fantasy Football Rankings - June 19
2014 NFL Mock Draft - June 18
Charlie's 2014 NFL Mock Draft - June 17
2013 NBA Mock Draft - May 22
NFL Picks - Feb. 3
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