The Arizona Cardinals: Draft Hits and Misses Through the Years

The Arizona Cardinals are gearing up for the 2024 NFL Draft, aiming to bolster their roster with promising talent. As they prepare for this crucial event, it’s worth reflecting on their draft history. Over the years, the Cardinals have experienced both triumphs and disappointments in the draft, shaping the course of their franchise. Let’s take a closer look at some of their biggest hits and misses since their relocation to Arizona in 1988.

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The Cardinals’ Draft Hits

  1. Pat Tillman (1998, 7th round): Pat Tillman’s story embodies courage and sacrifice. Drafted in the 7th round, Tillman showcased his tenacity on the field before leaving football to serve his country. His legacy endures, symbolizing the essence of selflessness.
  2. Anquan Boldin (2003, 2nd round): Anquan Boldin defied expectations, proving his doubters wrong with his stellar performances. His resilience and toughness made him a standout player, leaving an indelible mark on the Cardinals and beyond.
  3. Larry Centers (1990, 5th round): Larry Centers mastered the art of versatility, excelling as a blocker and a prolific pass catcher. His contributions to the Cardinals’ offense, coupled with his longevity in the league, cement his place among the franchise’s greats.
  4. Aeneas Williams (1991, 3rd round): Aeneas Williams’ journey from an unheralded prospect to a Hall of Fame cornerback is a testament to his perseverance and skill. His impact on the Cardinals’ defense reverberates through the annals of franchise history.
  5. Larry Fitzgerald (2004, 1st round): Larry Fitzgerald’s unparalleled career speaks volumes about his exceptional talent and character. A future Hall of Famer, Fitzgerald’s achievements on the field and his contributions to the community make him an iconic figure in Cardinals’ lore.

The Cardinals’ Draft Misses

  1. Levi Brown (2007, 1st round): Levi Brown’s selection failed to live up to expectations, overshadowed by missed opportunities and underwhelming performances. Despite his longevity in the league, Brown’s tenure with the Cardinals is marred by unfulfilled potential.
  2. Andre Wadsworth (1998, 1st round): Andre Wadsworth’s promising career was derailed by injuries, leaving a sense of what could have been. His struggles serve as a cautionary tale of the unpredictable nature of professional sports.
  3. Bryant Johnson and Calvin Pace (2003, 1st round): The Cardinals’ decision to trade down in the 2003 draft yielded mixed results, with Bryant Johnson and Calvin Pace failing to make a significant impact. This missed opportunity underscores the importance of making sound draft choices.
  4. Wendell Bryant (2002, 1st round): Wendell Bryant’s tumultuous tenure with the Cardinals highlights the pitfalls of drafting based solely on collegiate success. His off-field issues and on-field struggles tarnished his draft pedigree.
  5. Matt Leinart (2006, 1st round): Matt Leinart’s promising start fizzled out, leaving behind a legacy of unfulfilled potential. His inability to secure the starting quarterback position underscores the challenges of transitioning from college to the professional ranks.

As the Cardinals prepare for the 2024 NFL Draft, they are keenly aware of the stakes involved. Learning from past successes and failures, they strive to make informed decisions that will shape the future of the franchise. With each draft pick, they aim to build a team capable of contending for championships while honoring the legacy of those who have donned the Cardinals’ uniform before them.

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