Friday, April 27, 2012
Cards: Please pass the tackle (no reaching)
By Mike Sando
The joke from Arizona Cardinals general manager Rod Graves was that his team, without a second-round choice and having passed on Riley Reiff in the first round, would consider taking the Iowa tackle in the third.
Graves knew Reiff would be long gone by then, but if he and the Cardinals were stressing over their perceived need for a tackle, they hid their discomfort well.
Using a third-round choice for Oklahoma cornerback Jamell Fleming, chosen 80th overall Friday, showed the Cardinals weren't going to reach for help at tackle.
The team liked its depth at corner and felt as though four of its players at the position could start: Patrick Peterson, A.J. Jefferson, William Gay and Greg Toler. But with Toler coming off knee surgery and valuable veteran Richard Marshall having left in free agency, necessitating the move to sign Gay, the Cardinals had room for another young prospect at the position.
Coordinator Ray Horton expects his corners to support against the run. Scouts Inc. gave the 5-foot-10, 206-pound Fleming high marks in that area. Others weren't as convinced.
As for the need at tackle, consider that Kansas City selected Oklahoma's Donald Stephenson with the 74th choice, the first pure tackle selected since Cleveland chose Mitchell Schwartz with the 37th pick. The Cardinals aren't the only team avoiding tackles in this range of the draft, in other words. Arizona's next pick is 112th overall.