Anyone who followed the 2012 NFL Draft knows the Arizona Cardinals feel they need help along the offensive line. A lot of help. They spent three of their seven draft picks on offensive linemen: Bobbie Massie (4th rd.), Senio Kelemete (5th rd.) and Nate Potter (7th rd.).
And anyone who followed the Cardinals this past season also knows the passing game needs improvement. A mix of Kevin Kolb and John Skelton—with a dash of Richard Bartel—led Arizona to rank 24th in the league in scoring.
Running back Beanie Wells was only able to get the Cardinals to rank 24th in the league in rushing.
The offense's production starts with the big guys up front. And Profootballfocus.com ranked Arizona's offensive line 30th in the league—above only the Bears (31st) and Giants (32nd). So maybe those three picks were well worth it.
Hell. Even Sandra Bullock knows that the left tackle position is the most important position along the offensive line. And that spot belongs to draft bust Levi Brown.
But when Brown was drafted (2007), his charge was to protect a left-handed quarterback, Matt Leinart. Hence, he was never to provide blind side protection.
Nevertheless, Brown finds himself on the blind side and with that he finds himself on the wrong side of consistent criticism. In the past, I've even slapped him and his fellow linemen with a deserving nickname: The Matadors.
Of the 31 sacks The Matadors surrendered in 2011, Brown accounted for 11 of them—third most in the NFL. He also gave up 40 QB pressures, or the fourth most in the league.
But let's take a closer look.
Of Brown's 11 sacks given up, 10 of them came in the first 10 weeks of the season. From Week 12 to Week 17, Brown surrendered only a single sack. In that same period, Brown allowed only eight QB pressures.
Those numbers spread over the entire season would have Brown ranked one of the top offensive linemen in the league. So maybe the light went on for Brown.
Perhaps Brown is finally earning his paycheck. Perhaps the Cardinals over did it during the draft by selecting three offensive linemen. Or, perhaps Brown just gave a bit extra effort to secure a roster spot and then will slip into another four-year hibernation.
Whatever the case may be, Brown's play in the latter part of the season will be exposed as a facade or legit in the early part of the 2012 season. Cardinals brass won't hesitate to usher in one of their bright, new, shiny offensive linemen in his stead.