Cards draft CB Jamell Fleming with the 80th pick
The Arizona Cardinals selected cornerback Jamell Fleming from Oklahoma with the 80th pick overall Friday.
"I am excited to be a Cardinal," Fleming said in a conference call to the Arizona media. "It's a great team and organization and the defense is just getting better and better, so it's where I want to be."
The 22-year-old is one of the most physical defensive backs in the draft, which appealed to Cardinals General Manager Rod Graves.
"We're delighted to have him because of what we believe he brings to the table," Graves said at a press conference Friday. "He's a physical corner with speed and we feel like he can upgrade us at the position or certainly has the potential to do so."
Fleming has great quickness and athleticism and is a physical and explosive threat. He has shown great skill at locating secondary targets in zone and has an eagerness to get to the ball when it's in the air.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt believes Fleming will fare well against a wide range of receiving corps in the NFL.
"He's a physical corner that we think can match up," Whisenhunt stated. "I think with today's NFL, you know you're going to see multiple receiver sets and you can't have enough of these kind of guys."
Fleming was impressive in the NFL Combine, pushing 23 repetitions of 225 pounds.
Last season, Fleming finished with 60 tackles in 11 starts, good for fourth on the team. He also had a fumble recovery touchdown for 56 yards and two interceptions.
He appeared in 51 games at Oklahoma, starting his last 25. In his career, Fleming posted 168 total tackles, picked off 7 passes, including one for a touchdown.
Fleming brings tremendous value to special teams which factored into the Cardinals decision to bring him into the fold.
"I think another thing he brings as far as immediate value is contribution on special teams," Whisenhunt said. "When you have a guy that may or may not be your starter at that position, he's got to bring you some value in special teams.
Fleming echoes the coach's sentiment and believes his versatility stood out to the Cardinals.
"I take special teams serious," Fleming said. "When I was starting at corner, I was leading tackle on special teams. I think that's one of the main reasons that Arizona liked me because I am a hard worker and I'll do anything."
A Dallas native, Fleming was named the 47th-best cornerback by Scout.com when he was at Seguin High School. A player on both sides of the ball, he was an All-District and All-State player.
Fleming was an All-Big 12 Conference First Team selection as a senior.
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