|National Football League|
Arizona takes Oklahoma CB Fleming in third round
By BOB BAUM
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals turned to the defensive secondary and chose cornerback Jamell Fleming of Oklahoma in the third round of Friday's NFL draft.
It was just the second pick of the draft for the Cardinals, who sent their second-round pick to Philadelphia as part of the trade for quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Arizona chose Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Fleming with the 13th overall pick in Thursday's first round.
The Cardinals still have not addressed their most obvious need, on the offensive line. General manager Rod Graves said the team was not going to "reach" for an offensive lineman but was sticking to the draft board that had Fleming on top when Arizona's selection, the 80th overall, came around.
"We're looking for an opportunity to address the offensive line," Graves said, "but you don't want to do it at the expense of other players that can bring more to your football team, and we feel like Jamell certainly has the potential to do that."
Graves said that "if we can address that offensive line at some point where it makes sense we're certainly going to do it, but the draft is not our only opportunity here."
"We will have opportunities leading right up to training camp to address the offensive line," he said, "but I think the wiser thing to do is to make sure you're getting the value for the pick."
Fleming, who stands 5-11 and weighs 206 pounds, already has had success in the state of Arizona. He was the defensive player of the game in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl in Glendale when he returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown in the Sooners' victory over Connecticut. Then last season, he was defensive player of the game in the Insight Bowl in Tempe with seven tackles and an interception in Oklahoma's victory over Iowa.
"I didn't think they were going to be the team to take me," Fleming said, "but I did know that a lot of teams did like me and I could just `ball anywhere. I'm just glad Arizona picked me up."
It's the second year in a row that Arizona picked a cornerback early in the draft. The Cardinals chose Patrick Peterson with the fifth pick overall a year ago.
"With today's NFL, you know you're going to see multiple receiver sets," coach Ken Whisenhunt said, "and you can't have enough of these kind of guys."
Fleming believes that playing in the pass-happy Big 12 will help him make a quick adjustment to the pro game.
"They always say it's a passing league in the NFL," Fleming said, "and that's all we do in the Big 12 is pass. I think that's the best place to be as far as a corner."
Fleming had some impressive numbers at the NFL combine, including 23 repetitions bench pressing 225 pounds.
"We think he's a solid, solid young prospect that can come in and help us and compete early," Whisenhunt said, "and we're excited to get him where we did."
Fleming said he believes he could be a standout special teams player and could even play some safety if necessary.
"I think I can play whatever y'all need me to play," he said in a telephone conference call shortly after his selection. "I'll play D-tackle if I need to."
Fleming appeared in 51 games at Oklahoma, the last 24 as a starter at boundary cornerback. He finished with seven career interceptions, five in 2010 and two last season. Fleming was out of spring football as a senior because of academic problems.
Updated April 27, 2012