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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Jan 12, 2012 - 9:50 am

Cards' draft looks even better after one season

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, left, eludes the tackle-attempt of Cleveland Browns defensive back Eric Hagg, right, on a punt return in overtime of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

It's always fun after any NFL Draft to peruse the internet and read the endless grades experts hand out to the teams in the league for the players they selected.

But does anybody really know how these players will adjust to the pro ranks and actually help their team? The answer to that question is a resounding 'no'.

That's why it's refreshing when draft experts revisit what happened on draft night, and assign new grades for teams based on what actually happened on the football field. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. did just that, and the Arizona Cardinals received a slightly higher grade for their draft night activities after one season.

Kiper originally gave the Cards a B- for a draft that included 5th overall pick Patrick Peterson out of LSU and running back Ryan Williams from Virginia Tech.

After the season, Kiper gave the Cardinals a B. Why?

What isn't debatable, however, is that Peterson is the real deal. I gave the Cards an A-minus for value because Peterson was No. 1 on my Big Board going into the season. He needed refinement at corner, but his improvement was steady from Week 1 through Week 17, and he's right there with Devin Hester already as one of the most dangerous return men in the league.

Peterson is headed to the Pro Bowl as the NFC kick returner after tying an NFL record with four punt returns for touchdowns. He was also the only rookie on the AP All-Pro Team released earlier this week.

Of course, Williams was unable to help the Cardinals' revisited grade because he suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee in the preseason and spent the year on injured reserve.

Kiper also lauds fourth round pick Sam Acho, who had 7 sacks and cracked the starting lineup at outside linebacker midway through the season, and 6th round pick David Carter (16 tackles, 1 sack) for adding depth.

Check out Kiper's entire regrading of the 2011 NFL Draft here (must be an ESPN Insider).


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