Sunday, March 09, 2014

Looking At Arizona Drafts Over The Last 20 Years - Round 7

End of the line. How many actual productive players will the Cardinals pull from the final round of the draft?

Round 7: (26) - Frank Harvey, Billy Williams, Wesley Leasy, Chad Eaton, Jarius Hayes, Mark Smith, Phil Savoy, Jomo Cousins, Pat Tillman, Ron Janes, Chris Greisen, Sekou Sanyika, Renaldo Hill, Tevita Ofahengaue, Mike Banks, John Navarre, Leron McCoy, Todd Watkins, Ben Patrick, Brandon Keith, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Trevor Canfield, Jim Dray, Demarco Sampson, Nate Potter, D.C. Jefferson

Best: Renaldo Hill. Honorable mention: laRod Stephens-Howling, Pat Tillman

5 guys - Savoy, Cousins, Janes, Ofahengaue, Canfield - never played in an game. 6 - Harvey, Williams, Greisen, Navarre, McCoy, Jefferson - played 10 or less.

Arizona has drafted 5 tight ends in the 7th round over the last 20 years, versus 6 in the first six rounds combined. I understand tight ends are rarely franchise cornerstones, but this seems relevant to their ongoing difficulty finding even one reliable tight end. Freddie Jones is still the most productive one of the last 20 years.

Chad Eaton would seem like a good choice for best pick, if he'd ever played for Arizona. But like Rich Brahm, he was drafted and cut loose to have some moderately productive years for New England and Seattle.

So as far as best goes, it was down to 4 options: Tillman, Hill, Smith, and the Hyphen. Smith started well, the faltered when injuries felled Eric Swann and left Smith facing double teams. Then he held out for a better contract the first half of 1999, then he got the contract, came back, and promptly hurt himself. He'd be getting selected entirely on the basis of his 1998 season.

Tillman is certainly the most notable pick, and he was a starting safety for 3 years. His AVs are sort of mediocre, he was good for about 1 INT and 1 forced fumble a season. If he'd kept it up for another few seasons, maybe, but he felt he was needed elsewhere.

Hill can make a case for having the best overall career of anyone. His AV is just about even with Eaton's, and he played in more games. Some of them were even for Arizona! Most of his best seasons were as a safety for Miami or Denver, but he had a solid 2003 for the Cardinals, and was starting at cornerback 3 years overall.

Stephens-Howling's issue is lack of playing time. He was on the team for 4 years, but mostly as a special teams player or rarely used change-of-pace back. He never topped even 500 yards combined rushing or receiving, never had more than 4 touchdowns in a season. He lead the NFL in kick return yardage in 2010, but his yards and average fell well off after that.

I'm skipping Worst this round. By this point, I'm not sure what would qualify, unless I wanted to single out some year where they drafted two tight ends, or pick on Arizona for signing Eaton but letting him get away.

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Monday, March 03, 2014

Looking At Arizona Drafts Over the Last 20 Years - Round 6

Nearing the end of the line.

Round 6: (25) - Terry Samuels, Anthony Bridges, Mike Foley, Rod Brown, Tony McCombs, Zack Walz, Coby Rhineheart, Melvin Bradley, Dennis McKinley, Jabari Issa, Bobby Newcombe, Josh Scobey, Reggie Wells, Tony Gilbert, Nick Leckey, Jonathan Lewis, Chris Harrington, Will Davis, Jorrick Calvin, Quan Sturdivant, David Carter, Justin Bethel, Ryan Lindley, Ryan Swope, Andre Ellington

Best: Reggie Wells. Honorable mention: Leckey, Ellington, Bethel

Worst: Ryan Lindley. Dishonorable mention: Dennis McKinley

Six of these guys - Bridges, Foley, Brown, Newcombe, Sturdivant, Swope - haven't played a game in the NFL. Four - Bradley, Lewis, Harrington, Lindley - played fewer than 10 games. That does not preclude Lindley from getting worst, because god damn it, watching him play QB was fucking painful. How do you throw over 170 passes, with Larry freakin' Fitzgerald on your team, and not manage to throw a single TD pass? He is the only guy the Cardinals have drafted in the last 20 years with a negative AV. That's how terrible he was. As for McKinley, can't believe Arizona felt it necessary to draft two fullbacks that year, and McKinley couldn't even beat out Makovicka.

I'm pretty impressed with the 2004 draft. Nick Leckey played in 65 games, and recorded an AV of 15, and that only makes him the 5th best pick they made in that draft, behind Fitzgerald, Dockett, Dansby, and Antonio Smith. And he's just about even with Stepanovich. Even so, I wouldn't give the nod to Leckey. Also, as much as I like Lindley's 2012 6th round draft cohort, I can't give it to Justin Bethel. He's a very useful special teams player. Incredibly useful. But that just merits an honorable mention. So it goes to Reggie Wells. He was a starting o-lineman for 6 years, with an AV of 43 over that span, which is pretty solid. I think he has the highest AV of any Cardinals' offensive lineman they've signed in the last 20 years. Admittedly, that ain't saying much, he ranks around 65th all-time. But for a 6th round pick, that's not a bad career.

I have hopes Andre Ellington will eventually take this from Wells, assuming his stays healthy and Arians actually gives him more opportunities. But for the moment, that's all potential.

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