The NFL Draft is less than two months away, and all the speculation is starting to heat up.
The NFL Combine has come and gone, and we saw draft stocks rise and fall, and all the focus will be on who the Cardinals will draft.
Why don't we take a look at the Arizona Cardinals' last five drafts under head coach Ken Whisenhunt?
1st round, 5th overall: Levi Brown, OT, Penn State
2nd round, 33rd overall: Alan Branch, DT, Michigan
3rd round, 69th overall: Buster Davis, LB, Florida State
5th round, 142nd overall: Steve Breaston, WR, Michigan
7th round, 215th overall: Ben Patrick, TE, Delaware
Best Pick: Steve Breaston
Breaston never put up the major stats of a top-tier WR, but there is no doubt as to his contribution to the team, including a 2008 campaign in which he, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin each put up 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
Worst Picks: Buster Davis/Alan Branch
Davis never played a down for the Cardinals, but what hurts the most is trading up to grab Alan Branch, who only contributed 68 tackles and four sacks in his time in Arizona.
Best Value: Steve Breaston
Anytime you can get a constantly contributing player for your team in the fifth round, that’s a great value pick.
Brown hasn’t lived up to the hype, although he did play better in the second half of the 2011 season. Overshadowed by Joe Thomas, it stings to know the Cardinals could have had Adrian Peterson instead. Only one player is currently on the roster, but even then, for how long?
1st round, 16th overall: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
2nd round, 50th overall: Calais Campbell, DE, Miami (FL)
3rd round, 81st overall, Early Doucet, WR, LSU
4th round, 116th overall, Kenny Iwebema, DE, Iowa
5th round, 149th overall, Tim Hightower, RB, Richmond
6th round, 185th overall, Chris Harrington, DE, Texas A&M
7th overall, 225th overall, Brandon Keith, OT, Northern Iowa
Best Pick: Calais Campbell
Besides Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson, he may be the most important piece of the Cardinals defense. A huge body who knows how to get into the backfield, the Cardinals are smart for wanting to retain his services. The ability to block kicks isn’t a bad trait to have either.
Worst Pick: Chris Harrington
Best Value: Tim Hightower/Brandon Keith
Hightower, despite his fumble issues, played fairy well in his time in AZ, and took carries away from Beanie Wells when he arrived.
Keith, though not the best offensive lineman the Cardinals have, won a starting job and has played well for being a seventh-round pick. We can’t honestly ask much more than that from Keith.
DRC did contribute, and it’s a shame that he was shipped to Philadelphia for Kolb, but he never reached his full potential and is struggling for playing time in Philly. Doucet has failed to separate himself and be the No. 2 WR the Cardinals need.
1st round, 31st overall: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
2nd round, 63rd overall: Cody Brown, DE, UConn
3rd round, 95th overall: Rashad Johnson, S, Alabama
4th round, 131st overall: Gregory Toler, CB, St. Paul’s College (VA)
5th round, 167th overall: Herman Johnson, G, LSU
6th round, 204th overall: Will Davis, DE, Illinois
7th round, 240th overall: LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB, Pittsburgh
7th round, 254th overall: Trevor Canfield, G, Cincinnati
Best Pick: Chris Wells
His breakout 2011 season has helped his stock a lot. With Ryan Williams coming off of a knee injury, the backfield in 2012 should have a lot more competition, which is never a bad thing.
Worst Pick: Cody Brown
The last of four former Huskies to be taken in the first two rounds of this draft, he’s another second-round pick who fizzled out. A wrist injury sidelined his 2009 season, and he was waived the following off season.
Best Value: LaRod Stephens-Howling
He isn’t the big, bruising back that Wells is, but he’s a great chance of pace running back. Beyond the kickoff ability, when he gets in the backfield he makes plays, such as the game-winning TD in overtime against the Cowboys in 2011.
The Cardinals landed three starters in Wells, Toler and Stephens-Howling. Rashad Johnson also showed some promise when he filled in for an injured Kerry Rhodes in 2011. Herman Johnson, Will Davis and Trevor Canfield are also no longer on the team
1st round, 26th overall: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
2nd round, 47th overall: Daryl Washington, LB, TCU
3rd round, 88th overall: Andre Roberts, WR, The Citadel
4th round, 130th overall: O’Brien Schofield, DE, Wisconsin
5th round, 155th overall: John Skelton, QB, Fordham
6th round, 201st overall: Jorrick Calvin, CB, Troy
7th round, 233rd overall: Jim Dray, TE, Stanford
Best Pick: Daryl Washington
He is a Pro-Bowl caliber linebacker. Along with O’Brien Schofield, they impressed in the back half of the 2011 season, and became part of the group I like to call "The League of Extraordinary Young Linebackers." If Washington keeps growing at the pace he has been, the sky is the limit for him.
Worst Picks: Jorrick Calvin/Jim Dray
Sixth and seventh-round picks aren’t expected to make any major consistent contribution to the team, but they should at least make the practice squad for a year, right?
Best Value: John Skelton
During his rookie year, the Cardinals played fellow rookie QB Max Hall over Skelton as to not throw Skelton to the wolves so quickly. In 2011, he, at times, outplayed Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals’ new $63 million QB. He should compete and have a decent shot for the starting job in 2012.
The Cardinals drafted Dan Williams 26th overall, but you wouldn’t have known it because Tim Tebow was drafted one pick before then. ESPN went into a tailspin of Tebow talk, and the pick went largely unnoticed, except for Cardinals fans and Mel Kiper. If he can keep his weight in check, he should be able to be the player the Cardinals need him to be.
1st round, 5th overall: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
2nd round, 38th overall: Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
3rd round, 69th overall: Rob Housler, TE, Florida Atlantic
4th round, 103rd overall: Sam Acho, DE, Texas
5th round, 136th overall: Anthony Sherman, FB, Connecticut
6th round, 171st overall: Quan Sturdivant, LB, North Carolina
6th round, 184th overall: David Carter, DT, UCLA
7th round, 249th overall: Demarco Sampson, WR, San Diego State
Best Pick – Patrick Peterson – In his rookie year, Peterson tied the Punt Returns in a season record and made the Pro Bowler. Although his coverage skills still leave a bit to be desired, he has an extremely bright future ahead of him.
Worst Pick – N/A – After only one year, it’s hard to say who was a flop or not. Let’s wait another year or two before making that decision.
Best Value – Sam Acho – Acho played in every game his rookie year, and finished the season with 40 tackles, 7.0 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles. Not a bad way to start your career. He’s extremely intelligent and a very hard worker on and off the field. He should only get better next season and beyond.
Overall: The loss of Ryan Williams to a knee injury was dampened by Beanie Wells’ career year. When he returns, “Lil’ Sweetness” should compete for carries, and even the starting running back job. Rob Housler, though underutilized, showed promise as a down field target. David Carter played all over the field in 2011, and was constantly in the backfield. Anthony Sherman impressed in not only the running game, but also catching passes and special teams. He should be a Cardinals staple for the next decade.
Grade - A