Each pick between the 2008 and 2010 draft classes a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
Let’s take a look at how Arizona drafted.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
Finding a way to get your hands on Kevin Kolb does not count. At all.
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
Calais Campbell, DE (50th overall pick in 2008): What a find in the second, with Campbell going on to become the Cardinals’ best player in their front seven. After being brought along slowly as a rookie, Campbell exploded with a monster sophomore season and is now one of the best 3-4 ends in the league. Second in those rankings in 2011.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Daryl Washington, LB (47th overall pick in 2010): I’ll admit to not being as big a fan of Washington as some of my peers (who think the pick should be graded higher), but Washington is coming off a year where he looked like a true every-down linebacker. Like to see a little more from him in the run game, but a player on the rise.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Tim Hightower, RB (149th overall pick in 2008): Getting Vonnie Holiday (a massively underrated yet productive player) for a season in exchange for Hightower tips this towards the positive. In Arizona, Hightower saw more action in three years than Darren McFadden did in four with Oakland, but he was never the most dynamic of backs. A barely competent starter and little more, it’s not bad value in the fifth.
Brandon Keith, T (225th pick overall in 2008): You often wonder how good Keith could be if he wasn’t constantly nicked up. After a tough start to the season played decently in 2011 and is a guy who you could do plenty worse than to start at right tackle.
Rashad Johnson, S (95th overall pick in 2009): The Cardinals dime safety has looked comfortable playing the deep safety role in the Cardinals sub package defense, while providing an able fill-in for injuries. Telling that he’s still not seen as a starter, but does look the part in coverage and contributes on special teams.
Greg Toler, CB (131st overall pick in 2009): There were some ups and downs when Toler got his first season starting for Arizona in 2010, but on the whole, he looked capable and provided a big upgrade on what they previously had at the spot. A shame he missed 2011, but if he can build on his sophomore season, he should be starting.
LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB (240th overall pick in 2009): A real weapon with the ball in his hands, you get the impression the Cardinals haven’t quite figured out how to constantly get the best out of Stephens-Howling as evidenced by just 346 career snaps. A fine kick returner.
0.0: It could have been worse
Chris Harrington, DE (185th overall pick in 2008): The former sixth round pick was stolen off the Cardinals’ practice squad by the Bengals. How rude.
Beanie Wells, RB (31st overall pick in 2009): Wells is clearly a talented runner, but injuries and a lack of versatility have really limited the impact he has been able to make. Like the talent, just need to see more from him to consider his selection a success.
Will Davis, LB (204th overall pick in 2009): He got a chance to play (most notably in 2010) but performed poorly as he picked up a -10.2 grade on just 255 snaps. Did help on special teams, particularly in his rookie year.
Trevor Canfield, QB (254th overall pick in 2009): Spent some time on the practice squad before the Seahawks brought him onto their active roster.
Dan Williams, NT (26th overall pick in 2010): If you’re going to pick a player in the first round who is going to be a two-down guy, he better play well on those two downs. Williams hasn’t played badly, and was excellent at times as a rookie, but he hasn’t got his big backside on the field enough. Needs to produce more.
O’Brien Schofield, LB (130th overall pick in 2010): A great example of why sack stats can be misleading, Schofield only picked up 14 combined sacks, hits, and hurries on 181 pass rushes, yet his five sacks have people very excited. At this stage, doesn’t look like the answer to the Cardinals’ edge-rushing woes.
John Skelton, QB (155th overall pick in 2010): Some people will say that getting a QB in the fifth who wins games is a good move. I’d counter that by asking how many of those games Skelton actually won, and how many he just made life harder for those around him? Has made some nice plays, but generally looked way out of his depth and in need of seasoning in his first two years.
Jim Dray, TE (233rd overall pick in 2010): Went from being one of the only tight ends in town, to having plenty of competition that he just couldn’t keep up. Doesn’t do an awful lot well.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Early Doucet, WR (81st overall pick in 2008): You can’t say Doucet hasn’t had opportunities (he’s been on the field for 1,310 snaps), but he just hasn’t done a particularly good job of taking them as his -15.2 grade over that time shows.
Kenny Iwebema, DE (116th overall pick in 2008): When Iwebema got on the field, he made you yearn for him to get off it. Played his way to a -10.4 grade in just 291 snaps.
Herman Johnson, T (167th overall pick in 2009): Our Ben Stockwell reliably informs me that Johnson was the largest baby ever born in the state of Louisiana. Unfortunately, that didn’t translate into a good career with the Cardinals where he was waived after a year with the team, having failed to get on the field.
Andre Roberts, WR (88th overall pick in 2010): You can give him a pass on his rookie year, but Roberts, who should benefit from playing opposite possibly the greatest receiver in the game, looked poor as a starter in 2011.
Jorrick Calvin, CB (201st overall pick in 2010): Was traded for Charles Scott who went on to get cut weeks later. You could call this something of a wasted pick.
-1.0: What a waste!
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB (16th overall pick in 2008): When you pick a guy in the first round you don’t expect to get just one good year out of him. That’s all the Cardinals got (and helping them land Kevin Kolb isn’t a plus point), with DRC looking like one of the league’s best in 2009, and then turning into one of the league’s worst a year later. At times just didn’t look like he cared and it was not surprising when the Cardinals shipped him away.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
Cody Brown, LB (63rd overall pick in 2009): Zero snaps out of a second round pick? He missed his rookie year with a wrist injury but it’s not often teams will give up on a second-rounder just a year into their career without letting them play a solitary snap.
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
No Russell/ Leaf hybrids in theses classes.
Eventually you need to get first round picks that turn into superstars, and the Cardinals have failed in that regard. Indeed, they’ve failed to get much playing time out of them compared to other teams in the league, instead relying on some solid contributions in the mid and low rounds. Outside of Campbell and Washington, though, there’s really very little to get you excited about and a number of picks who just haven’t cut it at the NFL level. Time to start getting more from their draft classes than five players over three years you’d have confidence in starting.