- Mel Kiper Jr., Football analyst
Every summer, with the NFL draft and free agency in the rearview mirror, I take a look at each team. What did it accomplish in terms of added personnel? How did its draft fill holes? What voids remain? Let's jump around the league, addressing three things for each team:
• Help added: What the team has done this offseason to improve its prospects. Given my greatest area of expertise, I put a particular emphasis on the draft.
• Questions that remain: A look at what voids must be filled.
• Next year's help now: With an eye toward next year's draft class, which player from 2013 could seemingly help the team in 2012? This is meant to be hypothetical, a quick look at prospects to keep an eye on.
Here is the version for the NFC West:
Help added: Last year, Larry Fitzgerald led Cardinals pass-catchers with 153 targets. Trailing him, in a distant tie for second, were Early Doucet and Andre Roberts, a pair of good but not great younger receivers. Each was targeted only 98 times. In the same way the Atlanta Falcons decided they needed a potentially elite, high-ceiling pass-catcher to take some pressure off Roddy White (trading up for and then drafting Julio Jones in 2011), the Cardinals did the same in 2012. The draft addition of Michael Floyd, who plays at almost the identical height and weight of Fitzgerald, gives the Arizona passing game another major weapon. When he's playing at about 220 pounds or under, Floyd can't really be slowed by most corners, gets to where he needs to, uses his strong hands to snatch balls away from his body and has the quickness to separate. The combination of Floyd and Fitzgerald should mean few excuses for Arizona quarterbacks, at least in terms of options in the passing game. And for Roberts, a player I really liked coming out of The Citadel, and Doucet, it could mean some good matchups in the slot.
Where Cardinals passers have had excuses is in terms of pass protection. While it wasn't quite as bad as some have said, it certainly wasn't a strength. In the NFC West, every team the Cardinals face will have ways to get to the QB. The addition of guard Adam Snyder isn't terribly significant, but I did like the addition of Bobby Massie in the draft. A player with his skill set is a steal in Round 3, and I think he could get first-team time this season. Cornerback Justin Bethel is an interesting sleeper for them late. Elsewhere, the Cardinals are largely intact, which could be either a good thing ("They're growing") or a bad thing ("They were bad") based on what you saw last year. For me, it all goes to the next note
Mel Kiper's summer look at every division in football -- analyzing critical influxes from the draft, question marks remaining and a first glance at the 2013 draft -- continues with the NFC West.