Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Looking At Arizona Drafts Over The Last 20 Years - Round 5

The nice thing about these later rounds is it helps good players stand out more. There are a lot more bad picks, though.

Round 5: (26) - Anthony Redmon, Cedric Davis, Lance Scott, Tito Paul, James Dexter, Harry Stamps, Dell McGee, Chad Carpenter, Terry Hardy, Paris Johnson, Yusuf Scott, Mao Tosi, Jay Tant, Mario Fatafehi, Jason McAddley, Kenny King, Antonio Smith, Lance Mitchell, Brandon Johnson, Steve Breaston, Tim Hightower, Herman Johnson, John Skelton, Anthony Sherman, Senio Kelemete, Stefan Taylor

Best: Steve Breaston. Honorable mentions: Anthony Redmon, Antonio Smith.

Worst: Terry Hardy. Dishonorable mention: John Skelton.

Oh John Skelton, you broke my heart.

5 of the 26 picks never played a game in the NFL: Cedric Davis, Harry Stamps, Chad Carpenter, Paris Johnson, Herman Johnson. There are two others who played in less than 10 games: Jay Tant, Dell McGee. I could add Kelemete to that, but he's still in the league, so I figure there's a chance he'll get more playing time in the future.

There are a lot of guys who played in a surprising number of games, but didn't accomplish much going by AV. Tito Paul has an 8 in 67 games (a 3 in 31 games for Arizona), Terry Hardy a 4 in just 49 games. Arizona never has really started using their tight ends much, no matter how many coaches and offensive coordinators promise to do so.Coby Rhineheart managed a 5 in 61 games. I don't know if these guys were just really bad, or if they were mostly special teamers, and that limits their impact. My guess is the latter, though the former probably had something to do with the latter.

I remember Fatafehi, Tosi, and King from those early 2000s seasons when they had no pass rush, so they kept using lots of draft picks on d-linemen, but they all mostly sucked. Fatafehi at least had a couple of mildly productive seasons after he left, much like Calvin Pace hit his stride after moving to the Jets.

I mostly remember McAddley from late 2002, when the team's top 3 wideouts were all hurt, and they were using anyone they had or could sign off the street. It was him, Nate Poole, and Kevin Kasper by the end of the year, I think. I was going to say I don't even remember Brandon Johnson. Then I saw he only played 9 of his 87 games for the Cardinals. That might explain it.

The Best selections come down to about 4 guys: Redmon, Antonio Smith, Breaston, Hightower. Hightower couldn't stop fumbling, and only kept getting playing time because Beanie Wells couldn't stay healthy. Smith has been much better in his 5 years with the Texans (AV of 38) than his 5 years with Arizona (AV of 20). Redmon was OK for a couple of years, but nothing much overall. Breaston is the guy Arizona thought made Anquan Boldin redundant. Note: Breaston was not actually good enough to do that. Observe that Boldin's still a #1 or 2 receiver for teams that go to championship games, while Breaston can't even crack the starting lineup as part of the Chiefs' sorry-ass receiving corps.

And yet, I think it's Breaston. He wasn't as good as Boldin, but it isn't his fault the team decided he could take Boldin's place. The problem is none of them really stand out. They each had roughly one good year. 2007 for Smith, 1996 for Redmon (though his '97 is almost as good). 2009 for Hightower. Breaston has 2008, which is rated as being better than any of the other guys best season. So I give him the nod.

I gave the worsts to Hardy and Skelton over all those guys who didn't play or barely played because I figure at this stage, a guy getting drafted but not making on the field isn't such a big deal. But a guy apparently showing enough of something to get repeated playing time, then doing basically nothing with it, that's more of a problem. Either it's a problem with the player, or the coaching staff. They see what isn't there, or don't know how to develop what talent they see. I could have used Tito Paul or Yusuf Scott, but the disastrous end of the Skelton Experiment still stings, so he takes the hit.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Looking At Arizona Drafts Over the Last 20 Years - Round 4

Sorry, fell behind there. Honestly, by this point, it's going to be hard to pick a "worst". So many 4th round picks don't pan out.

Round 4: (20) - Perry Carter, John Reese, Terry Irving, Aaron Graham, Chris Dishman, Michael Pittman, Joel Mackovicka, David Barrett, Bill Gramatica, Marcus Bell, Nate Dwyer, Alex Stepanovich, Gabe Watson, Kenny Iwebema, Greg Toler, O'Brien Schofield, Sam Acho, Bobby Massie, Alex Okafor, Earl Watford

Best: Sam Acho. Honorable mention: Dishman, Graham

Worst: Gramatica. Dishonorable mention: Dwyer, Reese, Makovicka, Iwebema

Yes, the Cardinals drafted a kicker with a 4th round pick. A Gramatica, no less. Just not the good Gramatica. Instead, they picked the one who blew out his knee jumping around celebrating a first quarter field goal. That gets worst pick just on principle. Dwyer never played a game, Reese only five. Iwebema played in 31 games, but had almost no impact. As for Makovicka, that's a more emotional selection.

They've drafted 6 offensive linemen in those 20 picks. They've only drafted 7 offensive linemen in the first 3 rounds combined over the same time period. Which probably explains a lot about their struggles in that area over the last 20 years. Of course, the best of the early round picks was probably Rich Brahm, who never even played for them. That or Leonard Davis. I'm not sure who's the best of the 4th rounders. Stepanovich, maybe.

I was surprised that Arizona had parted company with 2010 and 2009's selection, Schofield and Toler, but both are still in the league, suggesting they're still useful players. But they haven't been that great. Pittman had a pretty decent career outside of Arizona. Not as good as Thomas Jones, but Pittman was better in Arizona. I don't remember the Joel Makovicka era fondly. He was the guy arizona drafted because they were too cheap to keep Larry Centers, and because they thought they could switch to a power running game. Because some Nebraska fullback was going to compensate for the overall awfulness of the offensive line.

I selected Acho because he's been the most productive for the amount of time he's actually been on the time. The guys with roughly similar levels of value, did so in a lot more playing time than Acho. he's at 35 games, Stepanovich played 46, Dishman had over 90 games and almost 60 starts, Graham 62 games and 40 starts.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Looking At Arizona Drafts Over the Last 20 Years - Round 3

We're back for the 3rd round. A couple of big successes, a few guys who were useful players for a few years, and a lot of guys who didn't do much.

Round 3: (22) - Rich Braham, Eric England, Stoney Case, Johnny McWilliams, Ty Howard, Tom Burke, Darwin Walker, Adrian Wilson, Josh McCown, Dennis Johnson, Gerald Hayes, Darnell Dockett, Eric Green, Darryl Blackstock, Leonard Pope, Buster Davis, Early Doucet, Rashad Johnson, Andre Roberts, Rob Housler, Jamell Fleming, Tyrann Mathieu

Best: Darnell Dockett. Honorable mention: Adrian Wilson.

Worst: Buster Davis. Dishonorable mentions: Blackstock, Pope, Howard, McWilliams, England

The choice for Best was easy. Dockett and Wilson are 2 of the best players the franchise have had at their respective positions. At the end of the day, Dockett's accrued more value in less time, probably because of Wilson's weaknesses in pass coverage. Dockett's still playing at a high level, which is encouraging. Darwin Walker and Rich Braham had the next best careers, but none of it was with Arizona. To a lesser extent, the same is true of Josh McCown. Less success away from Arizona, more success with them. Gerald Hayes had a good run with Arizona, nothing spectacular, but a solid contributor.

There's a lot of mediocrity. Guys who had scattered moments, but have eventually be moved aside for more reliable performers. Roberts, Doucet, Housler. there's even more guys who did very little. Any of the dishonorable mentions could have been tagged "worst", I went with Davis because he only played in 7 games, so he didn't really stick around long enough to do anything. The others were at least there long enough to try. And comprehensively demonstrate they were not useful, but staying on the field is half the battle.

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Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Looking At Arizona Drafts Over the Last 20 Years - Round 2

We went over the concept last week, but as reminder: I'm only counting a draft pick's performance with Arizona. If they stank with the Cardinals, but went on to great success elsewhere, it's not gonna help them. This week, Round 2, which has some very good players, a few promising current players, and a lot of utter failures.

I'm going to start listing all of the players, from furthest back to most recent.

Round 2: (21) - Chuck Levy, Frank Sanders, Leeland McElroy, Jake Plummer, Corey Chavous, Anthony Clement, Johnny Rutledge, Raynoch Thompson, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Michael Stone, Levar Fisher, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, J.J. Arrington, Deuce Lutui, Alan Branch, Calais Campbell, Cody Brown, Daryl Washington, Ryan Williams, Kevin Minter

Best: Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby. Honorable mention: Sanders, Campbell

Worst: Cody Brown. Dishonorable mentions: Levar Fisher, Johnny Rutledge

It's a real testament to Cody Brown that he won, considering some of the other options. Fisher and Rutledge were both linebackers who were barely able to get on the field, and only in special teams at that. Rutledge started a grand total of 3 games in the 4 seasons he was in Arizona. Raynoch Thompson was at least a starter for a few seasons. Vanden Bosch was hurt a lot, but was somewhat productive when he could play. Michael Stone might have been another choice, as a safety who never managed to make an impact. But it's hard to argue with a 2nd-round pick who never played a game in the NFL, and thus, Cody Brown wins.

On the positive side, there were enough good players I couldn't even list Plummer as an honorable mention. Or Daryl Washington for that matter. I think Washington has a good chance at being the best 2nd rounder here in a few years, assuming Arizona holds onto him, and he avoids more drug suspensions. I gave Campbell the nod over Washington since he's been around longer, and a bit steadier.

As for the best, it was either Boldin or Dansby. They were both Cardinals for a long time, they've both been Pro Bowl caliber players for the Cards, they're near the Top 20 in AV for the franchise. I lean towards Boldin, just because I've always been a fan of his, but Dansby came on with such a good year this year, that it's hard not to give him the nod. So they share it.

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