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Everyone has their “sleepers” or ”breakout” players and usually they consist of the obvious names. This year they are players like Antonio Brown (Pitt), Robert Meachem (SD), Eric Decker(Den), or Denarius Moore(Oak). We are going to move past the popular ones in this article and talk about a TRUE SLEEPER. Andre Roberts of the Arizona Cardinals, is such a sleeper, that you may not even know his name, so let me give you a little background. Roberts was a stand out at the college of Citadel. He was drafted at pick 24 of the 3rd round in 2010 by the Arizona Cardinals. He is 5′ 11″ and weighs in at 195 lbs. His forty time coming out of college was 4.46. There are many reasons why I think Roberts could be a true sleeper this year.
First, he plays opposite of Larry Fitzgerald! This is perhaps the greatest advantage a young person trying to become successful in the NFL could have. Not only will Larry draw all the coverage off this young WR, but wide receivers go to MN every spring to work out with Fitzgerald every year. Most recently AJ Green. Roberts has the advantage of seeing how a true professional goes about the job. One can only realize their true potential if they are willing to put in the work, and that is what Fitzgerald is all about.
Second, we have seen progress. His rookie year, Roberts had 24 receptions for 307 yards and 2 TDs. He was targeted 49 times. In 2011 he ended up with 51 receptions for 586 yards and 2 TDs on 98 targets. In his last 3 games last year he was targeted 28 times (10, 10, 8). This is growth of almost 100%. I think we would all take that with our prospects.
The problem that really faces Robert’s progression is the quarterback position. The quarterback position was a disaster last year, and while Fitzgerald owners will tell you that Skelton was the better of the two, the truth is that both quarterbacks left a lot to be desired. You would typically like to see a better catch percentage of 52%. In this situation, I FIRMLY believe that main issue lies with the thrower and not the catcher. For comparison, Fitzgerald was targeted 154 time for 80 catches last year. This was also 52%. Now lets look at an “above average” quarterback/wide receiver combo. Big Ben threw 114 balls to Mike Wallace last year and he pulled in 72 of them for a percentage of 63% Antonio Brown had 124 targets and caught 69 or 55.6% as a rookie. Now this is also an argument for the catching abilities of Wallace and Brown except that we are still comparing them to Fitzgerald as well, and Fitz is arguably the best pass catcher in the game today.
Now I’m not saying to go all in on this guy in the 6th round. He isn’t even being drafted in most leagues. There are still a lot of question marks about Roberts and Arizona’s offense in general. We will also see what Arizona thinks of Roberts with the draft coming up. If Arizona address WR early, that may be a good indicator that they do not feel Roberts is the guy. If they don’t address WR early, then keep one eye on Andre Roberts down in the desert sun. He has all the tools and is in a good situation. The questions we need answered are: Can he keep his progression going? and Will Kolb or Skelton step their game up? If you answered yes to these questions than go get him while he is still sleeping.