The Arizona Cardinals won't be in a position to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck; the Indianapolis Colts will most likely secure the first pick of the 2012 NFL draft in April. The Cardinals will, however, be in a position to draft someone Andrew Luck holds very near and dear: Luck's blindside left tackle Jonathan Martin.
Based on how this season is unfolding, Arizona should be one of the first five teams visiting the podium in April. They will have a chance to rewrite history. Or at least correct it.
In 2007, the Arizona Cardinals drafted left tackle Levi Brown with the fifth overall pick. That pick turned out to be a colossal blunder. Brown has held his ground in only one respect: being one of the worst left tackles in the league. In fact, this year, Pro Football Focus has graded him dead last in pass protection. Last year, Brown graded out as the worst left tackle in the league. The worst.
So, this year, the Cardinals should repeat the same statement they made at the 2007 NFL draft, only this time include a capable left tackle: "With the fifth pick of the 2012 NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals select Jonathan Martin."
The Stanford product will find a home in the starting lineup replacing Levi Brown. The question will be, at what level will Martin perform?
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller has compared Martin to Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady. If Miller is anywhere close to the mark with his comparison, Arizona would see immediate dividends with Martin. The Broncos selected Clady with the 12th overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft. Clady was an instant impact player for Denver.
After 12 weeks of the 2008 season, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King opined in his potent Monday Morning Quarterback article that Clady would be his third pick for Rookie of the Year in 2008.
King's evaluation was dead on.
The Associated Press' top three choices for the 2008 Rookie of the Year Award were Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson and Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady, respectively.
Clady was deserving of his recognition by King and the AP. In his rookie season, he surrendered half of a sack and drew only three penalties. At the halfway mark of this season, Arizona left tackle Levi Brown has already given up eight sacks.
If Stanford's Jonathan Martin can show the discipline Clady did in his rookie season and play with Clady's effectiveness, Cardinal fans may actually get to see if quarterback Kevin Kolb was a good acquisition for Arizona. Kolb's offensive line, as it is now, is hurting more than helping.
Martin, known to his teammates as "Moose," is viewed as one of the top left tackles in the 2012 NFL draft class. His 6'6" 315-pound frame, coupled with his long arms, are the foundation for his success. Add in his quick feet and uncommon dexterity, and you'll have Kolb standing the pocket, not running from it.
Surprisingly, Arizona failed to draft a single offensive linemen in the 2011 draft—the weakness of the team went unaddressed.
Not this time.
Arizona should have already given their draft card selection to NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell—Stanford's Jonathan Martin.