It happens every year.
The NFL draft takes place. Experts give grades. If the NFL team likes the grades, they promote their good grades through their media relations arm. If they don't, they rip the grades saying it takes 3 years to evaluate a draft. If the player fails, the team says the draft is a crap shoot.
I would like to see one team stand up and say, "Kiper was right. We deserved a bad grade in 20??."
Since I just took a shot at teams, let's be fair. I think it's a cop out when "experts" rip or support a draft without saying what should have been done. Holding the Cardinals and me accountable at the same time, here's what they did and what I would have done. Now you can give me a grade on what I'm writing and everyone's happy and accountable.
CARDINALS: Patrick Peterson
ME: Patrick Peterson
Reports have surfaced the Lions offered a swap of 2011 1st rounders, a 2nd and a 4th in this year's draft. I agree with the decision to say no. If DET would have given up a 1st, 2nd or 3rd in 2012 on top of the offer, I'm in. I would have traded down and selected Mike Pouncey. Admittedly, I think I would have been proven wrong by that choice because Peterson is so good.
Since Detroit didn't want to go higher, I completely agree with the pick. I think Patrick Peterson will be a fixture in Honolulu.
GRADE: A+ (only because I can't go higher than A+)
CARDINALS: Ryan Williams
ME: Akeem Ayers
Obviously the Titans agree with me that Ayers can play since he was the very next pick after the Cardinals chose Williams.
Much has been made by some media members who claim CKW has quietly admitted it was a mistake to take Levi Brown (based on need) and not Adrian Peterson (based on best available). With that lesson in hand, he wasn't going to pass on Williams with a need pick still on the board.
There's no way I'm going to argue this logical point and hard lesson. I disagree, however, with using the Peterson/Brown decision as an example. Brown was a huge reach at 5. Very few insiders thought he was worthy of a #5 selection overall (granted, very few insiders considered him to be any worse than a #15 pick so let's not act like the Cardinals took someone with their first pick that wasn't going to be drafted soon anyway).
Ayers is not a reach at 39. I'm not going to say there's great value because he graded out as a high 2nd round pick, which is where he went. There's no way the Cardinals can be happy with their RB production. If Williams is truly the 15th best player in this draft — the rumored spot of Williams on AZ's big board — I see the value. It doesn't change the fact for me that this team needs serious upgrades at LB and they had one fall in their lap and didn't take him.
Obviously, I'll be comparing these two players for years.
CARDINALS: Robert Housler
ME: Martez Wilson
I admit. I do have a problem with people getting stabbed. I'm not a big fan of guys with character questions but I truly believe there's good chemistry on the defense between the players. Wilson is a great teammate so I think he'd respond to the team's leadership.
He either gets caught in the wrong place at times in his personal life or he's an idiot. I don't know the answer and I'm not privy to interviews with him that may have affected the Cards desire to take him. I do know he can play.
I wanted the Cardinals to take Kyle Rudolph in the second round if Ayers wasn't there so I'm completely on board with taking a TE. I'm just not sure about Housler. If you're a 6-5 TE with blazing speed playing in the Sun Belt, why do you only average about 3 receptions a game? Housler isn't a great run-blocker so don't tell me he was selling out to help the run game. With the assets he has playing in low division one, I want more domination to make him my TE.
Granted, it's not my money and I've taken a character risk for my pick over a married man who is said to be a good teammate with a strong work ethic. I think TE's turn playoff teams into championship teams. LB's turn 5-11 teams into playoff teams. I don't think the Cards were in a position to pick a TE who's not a guaranteed product. I would have shouted to the hills if the TE pick was Rudolph but I'm not board here.
CARDINALS: Sam Acho
ME: Luke Stocker
This one is impossible to grade. The Cards can't take a TE one round after taking a TE. However, there is no way you're going to get me to believe they would have taken Housler in the 3rd round if they knew ahead of time that Stocker would be there in the 4th round. He is the perfect "Ken Whisenhunt guy." I think Tampa Bay got a steal taking Stocker with the very next pick.
This is why this pick is impossible for me to grade. Since the Cards have already taken a TE earlier in the draft, I think Acho is the right pick here. I love his attitude. He's a tough guy who doesn't take any crap but he doesn't take himself too seriously at the same time. He cares deeply about community and his fellow man. Cardinal fans will be very happy with Acho.
Acho is a good pick. There's no way in the 3rd round I would have known Stocker would be available so I'm not presenting myself as smarter than the Cardinals, but I would have hit a HR with the combo of Wilson/Stocker versus Housler/Acho.
GRADE: B+ for the actual pick but D for draft management
CARDINALS: Anthony Sherman
ME: Marcus Cannon
I think this is the only pick in the whole draft where you could really say the Cardinals screwed up.
Sherman is a high-quality person. The Cardinals are in no way thinking Sherman is going to be an every down player. They drafted him for special teams and short yardage and that's exactly where he will excel. If Cannon was off the board, I would completely support this pick—but he wasn't.
Marcus Cannon redshirted as a freshman and still played the full four years so he's very experienced. He started at right tackle as a junior and left tackle as a senior so he can go to either spot on the line. He played in two BCS games so he's used to a spotlight despite coming from TCU.
I don't think anyone would deny the Cardinals have O-Line problems. I think this is an actual 5th round pick that could have made difference right now. The Patriots grabbed Cannon 2 picks later.
Sherman will make the team and be a solid contributor for years. Years later, Patriot fans will marvel at how well a 5th round pick has played and helped keep Brady around for a few extra years.
CARDINALS: Quan Sturdivant
ME: failed trade
This is a complete HR by the Cardinals. Yes there are character issues here but it doesn't matter. When you get a player of Sturdivant's caliber, in a position of need and do it in the 6th round, the pick cannot be improved upon.
Sturdivant has the perfect balance of patient aggression needed to be a good ILB. He stays strong waiting for his read and has a wonderful burst to explode in the hole. The fact that he played in a pro-style 3-4 (Butch Davis) is another bonus.
The reason why I wrote "failed trade" is because I would have choked with this choice. I like Sturdivant so much I would have tried to trade back into the late 5th round just to get Sturdivant. The Cardinals deserve a ton of credit for their patience. Obviously they believe Sturdivant's issues are in his past and so do I.
CARDINALS: David Carter
ME: Rick Elmore
This is a toss-up. I saw both players play quite a few times. I think Elmore will be a better special teams player so I'm going with him. I like his wheels but he's going to be moved to OLB and I have no idea if he can cover.
Carter is an undersized DT which means he'll have to play DE in the Cards 3-4. He showed me some quickness but he can easily get engulfed if he can't get his hands on you. He might be strong against a tired tackle late in the game and add depth to the D-Line. It's just I'm taking a special teamer this late and I think he'd be better than Carter.
CARDINALS: DeMarco Sampson
ME: Bill Nagy
I'm being completely biased on this pick. The Cardinals need O-lineman and Wisconsin makes good ones so I want Nagy.
Sampson is a 5th round pick when healthy but he's rarely healthy. Either the Cards wasted a pick on a guy who will always be hurt or got a steal with a guy that has great tangibles.
I'd trust the Cardinals on this pick over my bias.
GRADE: I HAVE NO IDEA
OVERALL GRADE FOR 2011 DRAFT: B+ because it's a weighted scale since I'm down with OPP!!!