[Chart last updated: 7/9/14]
• We debated if Michael Floyd had already moved into the “high quality” category but decided to give it another year. It was certainly close but we felt we had to include his first year even if it was with sub-optimal (that’s putting it kindly) quarterback play.
• Bobbie Massie is an interesting player. I thought his end to the 2012 season (where he played as well as any RT after a horrific start) warranted an extended run. For some reason they decided to go with Eric Winston before realizing he really was on the down-slope and released him. If that move didn’t fully suggest the team doesn’t trust Massie, then giving Bradley Sowell (by far our lowest rated tackle of 2013) first crack at RT rubs home the point. However, based purely on on-field production, we like him, and don’t believe whatever mental errors he makes could outweigh Sowell’s ineptitude.
• Dan Williams’ grade may be a little lower than some may have considered fair because he actually is a pretty good nose tackle. The problem is he is limited to that role, playing less than 300 snaps, and not sufficiently great in it to deserve a “good starter” notation.
• After returning from suspension last year Daryl Washington didn’t meet his previous high standards. We thought about a lower grade but felt that wouldn’t be entirely justified and marked him more on previous years.
• Is Patrick Peterson “Elite”? It’s a valid question but, in the end, even taking into account what he’s asked to do (often covering number one receivers across the field) we felt he was a hair away. The deciding factor? How he was abused by the Titans (and Kendall Wright in particular) in Week 15.
• It may be obvious but to be clear Tyrann Mathieu will play free safety in base and then cover the slot in nickel. It’s becoming a much more popular role thanks to his success and that of Kenny Vaccaro. Expect to see more of it as a counter to the proliferation of receiving tight ends used in the slot.
1. Right Guard
It’s likely down to Paul Fanaika or Earl Watford, although Ted Larsen may figure in that mix too. Last year’s incumbent, Fanaika, played all bar one snap but his performance was awful and he ended as our sixth-lowest rated guard. The fact that Watford couldn’t oust him despite that level of play either says a lot about him or the Cardinals’ desire not to change mid-season. I think given their conservative nature Larsen could end up a winner here.
2. Right inside Linebacker
If the NFL hands out yet another suspension to Daryl Washington (this time for some domestic issues) it will leave last years second rounder, Kevin Minter, with his one defensive snap of NFL experience, Larry Foote, whose last full season in 2012 drew a -11.9 grade and Lorenzo Alexander, making a change from outside linebacker 10 years into his career, competing with a few free agents for both inside linebacker roles. Obviously Washington will fill one on his return but who’ll get the other? This year there is are Karlos Dansby’s waiting as a free agents to bail them out.
3. Strong Safety
There’s no doubt the front office would prefer this year’s first round selection, Deone Bucannon leapt straight into the starting role, but, I’m sure, Tony Jefferson would like to have a say. Although he only played sporadically (202 snaps spread over seven games) he never looked out of his depth and also contributed well on special teams, in particular doing a good job on the punt return unit.
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