As NFL teams and fans alike look forward to April’s draft, we’ll be conducting a little history lesson.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be going back over the 2008, 2009, and 2010 draft classes of each franchise and assigning each pick a grade.
Up first? Well, that’s the Arizona Cardinals.
Each pick between the 2008 and 2010 draft classes has been assigned 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. Finished in the Top 4 of those rankings in three of the past four years.
+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. A fierce blitzer, he’s someone you can build a defense around.
+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 toward 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 he played decently in 2011, but ended the year on injured reserve and spent 2012 out of football.
Rashad Johnson, S (95th overall pick in 2009): The Cardinals’ dime safety has looked comfortable playing the deep role in their sub-package defense, while providing an able fill-in for injuries. Looks set for a bigger role in 2013.
Greg Toler, CB (131st overall pick in 2009): There were some ups and downs for Toler during 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. Just a shame he hasn’t seen enough of the field since then, and now finds himself signed on with the Colts.
LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB (240th overall pick in 2009): A real weapon with the ball in his hands, injuries saw “Hyphen” get 110 carries in 2012 and he responded by forcing 24 missed tackles. Would likely be better served with an offensive line that gave him more space to operate.
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.
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 -13.5 grade on just 377 career 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 two-down guy in the first round he’d better play well on those two downs. Williams hasn’t played badly, and was excellent at times as a rookie, but needs to be lights out to earn himself a positive grade.
O’Brien Schofield, LB (130th overall pick in 2010): A great example of why sack stats can be misleading. In our Pass Rushing Productivity stat he finished 20th in 2012 (out of 32) and 28th (out of 31) in 2011. You don’t expect fourth rounders to be stars, but Schofield hasn’t proven a quality starter.
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? His game time has led to a -53.5 grade.
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 match. 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 run 1,217 regular season routes since entering the league), but he just hasn’t done a particularly good job of taking them, as his -26.6 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 -11.5 grade in just 294 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 Larry Fitzgerald, rarely takes the opportunities that come his way. Earned a collective -23.3 grade in three years with Arizona.
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 it just looked like he didn’t care, and it was not surprising when the Cardinals shipped him away.
Beanie Wells, RB (31st overall pick in 2009): Wells has some talent, but injuries and poor performances behind a bad line have made his selection a waste of a pick. No longer with the team and without many franchises interested in him.
-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 these classes.
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