Is Larry Fitzgerald Still a First Round Pick?
You aren’t going to find many bigger Larry Fitzgerald fans than yours truly. I have forever loved the way he approaches the game. He learned how to prepare for an NFL season from Cris Carter and followed in his footsteps of gathering WRs around the league for a grueling camp.
Not only does he prepare intensely, and take young players under his wing (Sidney Rice last year for example), but he never seems to be in conflict with the team or his teammates, let alone not getting in trouble off the field.
On the field is where he truly captivates me. He does not have blazing speed, but he simply finds a way to get it done. He has great hands, footwork, leaping ability, vision, etc. I should stop before I am accused of a man-crush on Fitz.
In six NFL seasons he has averaged 87.2 catches for 1177.8 yards (13.5 ypc), and 9.8 TDs. In four of his last five years he had at least 96 catches and double-digit TDs. In three of his last five years he had 1400+ receiving yards.
He’s been just a bout a sure thing for double-digit TDs as any RB out there the past few years. Not only did I consider him a first round pick last year, I considered him a mid-round (6-8) first round pick.
Things have changed though. Kurt Warner is gone and Matt Leinart is at the helm. Leinart has had his share of bumps and bruises, but he has had some success with Fitz in the past.
In 2006 they played in eight games together when Leinart was the starting QB. Fitz averaged 5.25 catches for 74 yards with 4 TDs. Those aren’t the numbers you have come to expect from Fitz, but he has come a long way from 2006. I am counting on Leinart to do the same when he’s finally given another chance this year.
Not only did he lose his QB, but Fitz lost his running mate. While Steve Breaston and Early Doucet are quality WRs, they aren’t Anquan Boldin. I’m not sure how much that will affect Fitz though. Last year Boldin missed Week 9 and Fitz torched Chicago for 123 yards and 2 TDs. In 2008 Boldin missed Weeks 5, 6, 16 & 17 and Fitz caught 20 passes for 362 yards and 6 TDs in his absence. In 2007 Boldin was out Weeks 4, 5, 6 & 14 and Fitz caught 31 passes for 432 yards and 2 TDs in those four games.
I also think the Cardinals will lean much heavier on the run with Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower taking some of the pressure off of Leinart. Kurt Warner was an elite talent so it made sense to rely on his arm. Leinart has ability, but there is going to be a philosophy change in the desert.
I’m not expecting another 1400 yard season for Fitz, but I do have him ranked high among WRs (click to see rankings) with a projection of 100 catches for 1250 yards and 10 TDs. Those are first round numbers, but I can see the argument that I’m being overly optimistic.
Mock Draft Central has Fitz with an ADP of 11. I would put him right around there as well. I would prefer RBs like AP, Chris Johnson, MJD, Michael Turner, Frank Gore, Ray Rice, and Steven Jackson over Fitz. I would also rather have WRs Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne as well. I do like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees a lot, but I’d rather grab Fitz and settle for a Manning, Brady, Romo, Schaub, or Rivers later.
That puts Fitz at the 10th pick in my book, so yes I do consider him a first round pick still. Remember, I may be a little biased since I am such a big fan, but there aren’t many guys that you can basically pencil in for 1000+ yard and 10 TDs. I believe Fitz remains on of them.
What do you expect from Larry Fitzgerald?
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