San Francisco sure had a scare yesterday when Michael Crabtree left OTAs hurt, and they got even worse today in the form of confirmation that Crabtree fully tore his Achilles’ tendon.
It’s very bad news for a team’s pass attack that relies on Crabtree at receiver. Undoubtedly the loss puts pressure on the rest of the offense, notably on 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins and rookie fourth-founder Quinton Patton.
Additionally, this development may mean that coach Jim Harbaugh will rely more heavily on the run game, with every-down back Frank Gore sure to get the majority of carries — although it’s likely 2012 second-round pick LaMichael James will pick up some carries as a speedy change-of-pace back.
There is a chance Crabtree could be out for six months, with a possibility of returning towards the latter part of the season with the intention ramping up towards the playoffs. With that in mind, expect Crabtree to be given the injured reserve/designated to return tag so they can keep him off the roster until November or December.
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It’s been a bit since the draft concluded, so I figured it was about time to get some more analysis done on each pick for each team. To this point, our first segment features the Arizona Cardinals.
As each segment is completed, they’ll be added to the Team-By-Team Selections page.
Round 1, Pick 7 – North Carolina OG Jonathan Cooper
Redshirt Senior 6’2″ 311 lbs 5.07 40-yard 35 bench reps
NFL Comparison: Ben Grubbs
Cooper, a four-time All-ACC selection, is athletic for his size and it shows in his ability to get to blocks in the run game and displays incredible quickness and fluidity as a pass-blocker. He could improve strength-wise to counter stronger defensive tackles, but is already a more-than capable guard at the professional level before playing a single snap. Cooper can play all three interior line positions, but right now the likeliest position is right guard following the release of incumbent starter Adam Snyder — and the fact that Daryn Colledge was considered the Cardinals best starter along the line at left guard last season.
Round 2, Pick 13 (45) – LSU ILB Kevin Minter
Redshirt Junior 6’0″ 246 lbs 4.70 40-yard 25 bench reps
NFL Comparison: Joe Mays
Like Joe Mays (who has started for Denver as a run-stuffer over the past two seasons), Minter is an undersized tackling machine who should excel as a run defender and in zone coverage. Minter plays physically and projects as a two-down thumper at the professional level — which is just what Arizona needs at 3-4 inside ‘backer opposite dynamic starter Daryl Washington. Even with the addition of Karlos Dansby, the loss of Washington due to suspensions will allow Minter to compete with Jasper Brinkley and Lorenzo Alexander for a starting spot immediately.
Round 3, Pick 7 (69) – LSU DB Tyrann Mathieu
Junior 5’9″ 186 lbs 4.46 40-yard 4 bench reps
NFL Comparison: Antoine Winfield
Mathieu played extensively in the slot at LSU, playing with physicality and aggressiveness as a corner. The plan in Arizona is to transition Mathieu to safety in his rookie season — although there’s a distinct possibility he could be utilized to cover slot receivers, regardless of inferior size. Matheiu’s presence will likely work as a symbiotic relationship with Patrick Peterson, as the coaching staff is relying on Peterson’s presence as a way of keeping Matheiu’s off the field issues in check, while Matheiu can in turn serve as a returner and allow Peterson to develop as a shut-down corner. Mathieu has playmaking ability and great tape from his days at LSU — if he can stay out of trouble Mathieu will likely carve himself a role in the Cardinals’ defense from day-one.
Round 4, Pick 6 (103) – Texas OLB Alex Okafor
Senior 6’5″ 264 lbs 4.92 40-yard 21 bench reps
NFL Comparison: Ray Edwards
Okafor will have an interesting rookie campaign, as he’s going to be making the ever-so-difficult transition from college defense end to pass-rushing outside ‘backer in the pros. Okafor is an interesting selection for Arizona simply because it seemed he’d be more of a fit in a 4-3 scheme due to his run-stopping abilities — 4.92 speed isn’t all that good for a stand-up rusher at the professional-level. At the same time, Arizona’s need of pass-rushers is well documented after a season that saw Sam Acho disappoint as a fill-in at outside ‘backer. A former defensive tackle prior to converting to end as a junior, Okafor relies on strength and bull rush technique to get past blockers, which would better suit him to a run-stuffing position like left end — where the complementary pass-rush abilities would be highly valued. Still, in the fourth-round Okafor is a solid value pick for Arizona.
Round 4, Pick 19 (116) – James Madison OG Earl Watford
Redshirt Senior 6’4″ 300 lbs 5.05 40-yard 24 bench reps
NFL Comparison: Cooper Carlisle
Like Carlisle in his days with Denver, Watford is a bit of a smaller guard who excels in zone blocking schemes due to his athleticism. Following the selection of Cooper in the first-round, Arizona is clearly selecting the JMU product with the potential of developing into a swing guard or to groom Watford as a potential replacement for veteran Daryn Colledge.
Round 5, Pick 7 (140) – Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor
Senior 5’9″ 214 lbs 4.70 40-yard 17 bench reps
NFL Comparison: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Following the departure of Toby Gerhart to the NFL, Taylor took over as Stanford’s every-down back. Built like a fullback and a runner with the skill set of a pass-blocking fullback, Taylor displays ball security skills in combination with a plodding run-style that may limit his time on the field. With 97 receptions in college and a reputation as a good pass-blocker, Taylor may be able to steal some late-down snaps from Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams as a rookie — that is if either runner is healthy enough to play. It will probably be a bad sign for Arizona if Taylor sees the field often in his first season.
Round 6, Pick 6 (174) – Texas A&M WR Ryan Swope
Redshirt Senior 6’0″ 205 lbs 4.28 40-yard 16 bench reps
NFL Comparison: Eric Decker
Swope has very solid measurables, with great straight-line speed, decent size and good strength for receiver. Not only has Swope drawn comparisons to Decker for reasons of possibly being a contributor right from his rookie season, but the Aggies product also has drawn comparisons to prolific slot receiver Brandon Stokley due to his route knowledge and awareness of the field. Swope can play both in the slot and outside, like Decker, and could line up wherever asked with receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd as solid starters. If he can prove concussion worries are a thing of the past, Swope has a good chance to contribute as a rookie — especially now that Arizona has Carson Palmer at the helm and Bruce Arians’ vertical pass attack being implemented.
Round 6, Pick 19 (187) – Clemson RB Andre Ellington
Redshirt Senior 5’9″ 199 lbs 4.54 40-yard
NFL Comparison: DeMarco Murray
Don’t let his straight-line 40 speed mislead, as Ellington is an explosive runner — and quite possibly the most explosive runner on Arizona’s roster. Ellington flashes an ability to burn in space and make would-be tacklers miss with excellent stop-and-go acceleration and smooth cutting skills. As a runner, Ellington needs to learn to let his blockers set up holes rather than simply rely on his abilities to shake defenders, but at the same time he displays an exceptional ability to get extra yards and fall forward for a back of his size. Ellington showcases more ability to develop into an impact runner at the professional-level than fifth-rounder Stepfan Taylor.
Round 7, Pick 13 (219) – Rutgers TE D.C. Jefferson
Redshirt Senior 6’6″ 255 lbs 4.99 40-yard
NFL Comparison: Richard Quinn
Jefferson is a pure blocker at this point in his career, with no more than 20 receptions during each season during his time at Rutgers and only a measly two touchdowns. There is a decent chance that Jefferson will end up on the practice squad, but Jefferson could carve out a role as a special teams player if he makes the roster.
FINAL DRAFT GRADE: B+
The Cardinals picked up some very useful pieces in this year’s draft, including a late-round steal of Andre Ellington. However, as the same time Cooper was undoubtedly over-drafted as a top-ten pick (no guard has gone in the top-ten in over a decade). With the exception of Jefferson and Watford, each other Cardinals rookie is likely to carve out a role in their first seasons.
That’s it for Arizona. Next up with be the Atlanta Falcons!
I won’t be alone in predicting that ex-Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby will make an impact in Arizona this season, coming off of the most productive season of his career starting at middle linebacker in Miami.
I’ll be covering this topic a bit more over at Bleacher Report, with a link coming as soon as I get that article done.
The article is live over at Bleacher Report.
Head on over to read more on the topic, but in short when breaking down Dansby’s statistics over the past several seasons it becomes clear the Cardinals are getting an impact player in Dansby — without the trappings of a multi-year deal for a veteran player.
A former second-round pick of the New York Giants, linebacker Clint Sintim has announced his retirement from football.
Once thought to be a future main-stay in a fluctuating linebacker corps, Sintim’s career was derailed after only 24 games (and one start) due to multiple Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears. The 2009 NFL Draft pick never played after 2010 after being placed on injured reserve in 2011 and his release prior to the 2012 NFL season.
Sintim announced the decision via his Facebook page, posting the following:
I never actually announced it but I am officially retired from the game of football. I want to thank everyone who supported me throughout my movement but it was honestly time for me to walk away from the game. Ambition should not be limited to a sport and in my case it is not. “Continue to chase your dreams with the awareness of obstacles….You may not always be able to dictate your path…..but your response to change is always mental!!”—————->@ClintSintim52
Sintim, 27, finishes his career with 33 tackles and one sack for Big Blue.
Already facing a four-game suspension for violation of the NFL’s drug policy (concerning PED use), Cardinals inside linebacker Daryl Washington is now looking at the possibility of missing more time after being arrested on two charges of aggravated assault.
Fox’s Mia Garcia was one of the first to break the story:
Cardinals player Daryl Washington arrested and booked into jail on 2 cts agg assault. #FOX10
— Mia Garcia (@miagarciafox10) May 3, 2013
Reportedly stemming from a domestic abuse situation, there is a chance that Washington could receive multiple suspensions for the incident — something that would dearly hurt the Cardinals at the inside linebacker position. Arizona recently selected LSU linebacker Kevin Minter ostensibly to play opposite Washington in the Cardinals’ 3-4 defensive scheme.
There is likely already a contingency plan in place, as Arizona was already going to miss Washington for the first four games of the season. Minter is the likeliest replacement in the middle, with candidates for the other inside ‘backer position are Jasper Brinkley and Lorenzo Alexander — neither of which have significant starting experience.
Additionally, Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield could be tried out at inside ‘backer instead of their previous position for the Cardinals (outside linebacker). Alex Okafor, selected in the fourth-round out of Texas, will be given every chance to start at outside pass-rusher in the meantime.
Whichever path Arizona chooses to take, they will be hard pressed to make up for the loss of a 2012 pro bowler in Washington.
UPDATE: Washington has released the following statement on Arizona’s website.
“This is a legal matter and I am limited in what I can say other than that my lawyer and I will continue to cooperate with investigators and welcome the opportunity for all the facts to be presented,” Washington said in a statement, according to the team’s Web site. “I regret that the situation has brought this kind of attention to my family and my team. I look forward to resolving it as soon as possible.”