In Hindsight – The Arizona Cardinals’ NFL Draft Picks

Hindsight. Noun. “Understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed.” That’s the Google dictionary definition of the word…and what a skill it might have been for the Arizona Cardinals organisation over the past decade when it comes to their NFL Draft selections.

What’s the worst thing about NFL Twitter? It’s an open-ended question with multiple answers, but for the purpose of this article the answer will be ‘those who think they can draft better than the front office’.

It’s a pain and yet here I am at the beginning of an article that is set to criticise a lot of the Arizona Cardinals’ NFL Draft selections in all of the years that I have been a fan (for this, I shall go from 2009 onwards). Hypocrisy yes, but the things we must do for content. 

Nevertheless, let’s get to it and see what we could have done with something known as hindsight when it comes to their past selections over the decade. Some may not change at all, but the majority will. Spoiler alert.

2009 NFL Draft – The Real Slim Shady

The Cardinals Actual Selection – Beanie Wells, Running Back, Ohio State
The Cards’ Hindsight Selection – LeSean McCoy, Running Back, Pittsburgh

Fresh off of their losing Superbowl 43 appearance versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, perhaps it seems harsh to then rub that in with a re-do selection of a player from Larry Fitzgeralds’ alma mater, but look at how the two players stack up.

Beanie Wells, massively disappointing for at least 90% of his time in Arizona – yet somehow earned himself the franchise’s ‘single game rushing record’ with 228 yards against the St. Louis Rams – and not seen in an NFL jersey since 2013 and a failed audition with the Baltimore Ravens. Bust?

Shady McCoy. Still going strong heading into his 11th season on his second team (drafted by the Eagles, currently with the Buffalo Bills) and having amassed 10k+ yards rushing and a nice total of 69 touchdowns.

If we were dead set on a Running Back in the 2009 NFL Draft, it’s a shame that LeSean McCoy was not the selection over Christopher Wells. Then again, what if Adrian Peterson > Levi Brown all those years back? Hindsight.

2010 NFL Draft – Gronk Stays In AZ?

The Cardinals Actual SelectionDan Williams, Defensive Tackle, Tennessee
The Cards’ Hindsight Selection – Rob Gronkowski, Tight End, Arizona

Dan Williams? Like Beanie Wells the year before him, he was never a guy that had big or dominant games – granted, as a big guy on the defensive line, his work often would go unnoticed, but was he a big need and a pick well spent? You’d have to say not. Throughout the years, the Cardinals have spent late picks or even picked guys off of the streets and got solid contributions from them.

This was a strange pick when it happened and one which still makes you wonder why they made it. On the plus side, he did once intercept a Sam Bradford pass and took it back for a touchdown, so that’s something. Right?

Speaking of touchdowns though. Say we had hindsight, then keeping former Arizona Wildcat Rob Gronkowski within the state boundary would have been a selection that would have been welcomed by some fans (and detested by the Arizona State-supporting lot) and for once given the franchise a legit threat at the position. Whenever he wasn’t struggling with injury, at least!

Of course, the injury history has been problematic for Gronkowski and one of the main reasons that he’s cut his career short and won’t be suiting up for the 2019 NFL Season after retiring from the sport. That can’t be helped. But, when he was on the field then he was perhaps the greatest Tight End that has ever stepped foot on the gridiron – a mismatch that constantly bullied puny, opposing defenders with a penchant for the spectacular from time to time.

Granted, in hindsight, probably all 31 other NFL franchises would have taken Rob Gronkowski given the opportunity to do it all over again. What madman wouldn’t want a generational talent?

2011 NFL Draft – He’s A Keeper…

The Cardinals Actual Selection – Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, LSU
The Cards’ Hindsight Selection – Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, LSU

This one really doesn’t need much of an explanation, does it?

The 2011 NFL Draft is one of the most stacked first rounds in recent memory, perhaps since the turn of the millennium? Elite talents at the top of the order, solid contributors scattered amongst the rest of it…and then Blaine Gabbert.

With the 5th overall selection, the Arizona Cardinals selected Patrick Peterson out of LSU – and, in hindsight, they would still make that very same selection and not look back. The best cornerback in the entire league, Peterson has been a mainstay in the Cardinals secondary throughout multiple defensive schemes and coordinators – some able to get the best out of him, others like Steve Wilks doing the complete opposite.

Perhaps the only blot on his Cardinals’ copybook is the whole Trade Request-gate situation from 2018 and then the 6-game suspension he has to serve to begin the 2019 NFL Season. Aside from those misdemeanours, a model professional and a big fan-favourite in the desert.

For once, a selection that they didn’t miss horrendously on…

2012 NFL Draft – Not Fitz’s Replacement…

The Cardinals Actual Selection – Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
The Cards’ Hindsight Selection – David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford

If there was a dictionary definition for ‘missing horrendously on’ then attached as one of the examples would be a photo of Michael Floyd. The Notre Dame graduate had his moments in Cardinals colours, but they were few and far between and not what you’d expect from a 13th overall selection. Sure, he was good in spells, but not good enough that he’s still in the desert and biding his time as the heir-apparent to Larry Fitzgerald – he’s elsewhere now, no doubt shining up his most undeserved Superbowl LI Champion ring. Dick.

Looking back at his career statistics in the desert, he passed the fabled 1000 yards receiving in one season. And that was even artificially boosted by a 91 yard TD catch. Pathetic when you think about it. A maximum of 6 receiving touchdowns in a pair of his seasons is similarly tragic to look back on.

I haven’t even gotten to the DUI arrest that saw him released either. But I’ll leave it there and move onto who we should have taken instead of Floyd.

And it’s fair to say that there are two enticing options in the latter half of the 1st round which would have made a tonne of sense for the Cardinals and at least saw some kind of return on their investment. As opposed to all the pain and misery they had to endure with Michael Floyd being the selection.

One option would have been current Cardinal, Chandler Jones (selected 21st overall by New England) but I guess we have to assume he somehow ends up in Arizona through some crazy scenario anyway so he’s off the list. Which means Guard David DeCastro would be the selection instead.

For the longest time, the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive line has been a shoddy, hole-filled mess with the dregs of NFL society scooped up off of the streets mixed in with the occasional free agent bust and late round selections who are probably now used car salesmen. It really hasn’t received the sort of investment it should have done if they wanted to be real competitors in the league.

DeCastro has been a big contributor for the Steelers, giving their ground attack of Le’Veon Bell and now James Connor huge holes to galavant through on their way to becoming one of the most feared rushing offences in the league. If only he was able to come to Arizona and maybe the likes of David Johnson could have benefited massively from having a competent offensive lineman leading the way for them.

2013 NFL Draft – Bust No More…

The Cardinals Actual Selection – Jonathan Cooper, Guard, North Carolina
The Cards’ Hindsight Selection – DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson

Now, had we followed my amazing hindsight selection the year previous, then Jonathan Cooper may have never even been an option for the Cardinals? Though, then again, if that happened then what about the future trade that saw the Cardinals extort the Patriots by shifting him and a 2nd rounder for Chandler Jones? That’s some N ‘if’ L-type stuff.

Nevertheless Jonathan Cooper was a flat-out bust for the Arizona Cardinals but, here’s yet more hindsight for you, what if he never broke his leg in pre-season? Could he still be in Arizona and be a mainstay on the Cardinals’ offensive line? Again, we will never know. So in reality, Cooper = bust.

You know who isn’t a bust? DeAndre Hopkins. The Houston Texans wideout is amongst the very best in the entire league and would be a much better ‘heir-apparent’ to Larry Fitzgerald than Michael Floyd ever amounted to be. I mean, he even has the dreadlocks. Imagine him not only learning from the very best but also using his massive frame and insane catching ability to take the Arizona Cardinals offence to the next level.

Man, hindsight would be an amazing skill to have…

2014 NFL Draft – The $LB Never Happens?

The Cardinals Actual Selection – Deone Bucannon, Safety, Washington State
The Cards’ Hindsight Selection – Joel Bitonio, Offensive Line, Nevada

Now, Deone Bucannon certainly had his moments in Arizona – and also London as his interception was literally the only good thing happened that time the Arizona Cardinals played at Twickenham, apparently? – and was a big part of Todd Bowles’ defence which seemed to get the best out of him. Same with James Bettcher. But under Steve Wilks, nothing. Nada. Zilch.

A scheme-dependant player then? Perhaps. But not really ideal from a first round selection and it’s probably not a surprise that he is no longer in Arizona. Instead he is back plying his trade under James Bettcher in the blue half of New York on a one-year, ‘prove it’ deal. So not a big loss for the Cardinals?

We’ve already seen one ‘hindsight’ selection be spent on the offensive line, so why not double-down with another one and have the Cardinals selecting the versatile Joel Bitonio to add yet another talented player on that line…because god knows they need it. Then, now and forever.

Where would he play? Well, looking at the hindsight selections, then maybe the LT spot that he’s now occupying in Cleveland following Joe Thomas’ retirement? Or the other Guard position that DDC isn’t occupying.

With hindsight by my side, I’m already a better General Manager than Steve Keim. If you’re reading Mr. Bidwill, sir, please get in touch.

2015 NFL Draft – DJ for DJ?

The Cardinals Actual Selection – DJ Humphries, Tackle, Florida
The Cards’ Hindsight Selection – David Johnson, Running Back, Northern Iowa

What’s sitting in front of a laptop screen, thinking about what to write and is a massive hypocrite? That’s right, me. Spend a whole article saying how the Arizona Cardinals need to improve their offensive line and here I am taking out a starting lineman and replacing him with someone else?

Let’s be honest though, if you took DJ Humphries off of the team, would anyone even notice? In fact, given his injury record, it’s not like he’s ever been on the team for that long anyway? A disappointing pick.

We all know that David Johnson wasn’t the team’s top option at running back – stupidly they thought Ameer Abdullah would have been a better option – but hindsight. Saying that, with hindsight from the rest of the league, maybe they’d have also taken David Johnson earlier. But I’m the only one with that power here so they’re stuck with their busts and we’re out here taking DJ two rounds earlier. Simple?

Plus you don’t need convincing why this pick would be better, do you?

2016 NFL Draft – Well, It Couldn’t Be Any Worse, Could It?

The Cardinals Actual Pick – Robert Nkemdiche, Defensive Tackle, Ole Miss
The Cards’ Hindsight Pick – Jaylon Smith, Linebacker, Notre Dame

Let’s not beat around the bush, the Arizona Cardinals 2016 NFL Draft Class was fucking shit. The only good thing Steve Keim did the entirety of this process was give the Patriots their 2nd round selection just to stop them from adding yet another useless wasteman to their roster. Because that is was was going to happen.

Robert Nkemdiche has not lived up to the billing, in fact he’s been a disastrous selection – barely noticeable when on field and then seemingly almost always injured with one niggle or another. Hands up if you remember anything Nkemdiche has done on the field aside from that fumble he returned for a touchdown? Thought as much.

We’ve already had a disappointing player out of Notre Dame, but at least this one is showing to be a productive player in the Dallas Cowboy’s uniform he’s wearing in reality. After recovering from a brutal knee injury, he has looked like the talent people were expecting him to be in the NFL and was a guy I would have happily seen us stash away whilst he recovered before being unleashed on the NFL.

Alas, I’m not Steve Keim. Just some #wannabeGM with a Twitter account. So my opinion > yours. Naturally.

2017 NFL Draft – I Was Saying Boo-da

The Cardinals Actual Selection – Haason Reddick, Linebacker, Temple
The Cards’ Hindsight Selection – Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State

This is not a slight on Haason Reddick, he may still turn out to be a fantastic player for the Arizona Cardinals going forward but we’re now heading into the 3rd season of his and he’s yet to nail down a spot on this defence – granted, all the chopping and changing with coaches and an inability to decide where best to utilise him, don’t do him any favours whatsoever – but maybe we should just go for a player who DOES have a set position and just have him play that? Not rocket science, right?

Hooker has had his moments in Indianapolis and, if I remember rightly, was apparently high up on the Cardinals’ draft board that year? In that case, perhaps they should have just looked away from Reddick’s big Senior Bowl/Combine performances and then working out potentially what he may become down the line and take someone with a proven track record?

Not Steve Keim though. He knows best. Right?

2018 NFL Draft – The Rosen One?

The Cardinals Actual Selection – Josh Rosen, Quarterback, UCLA
The Cards’ Hindsight Selection – Derwin James, Safety, Florida State

The Rosen One? Not this time, bub. All those wasted #3 jersey purchases, never made. All that controversy over drafting Kyler Murray this past Draft? What controversy? (Also, isn’t Kyler Murray a baseball player?). The Josh Rosen year in Arizona never happened.

What did happen instead though is that they kept hold of those 3rd and 5th round draft picks, stayed put at 15th overall and went back-to-back on first round safeties with the addition of Derwin James in this do-over. A tremendous talent and first team All-Pro as a rookie, plenty of teams will be kicking themseleves that they passed over him for guys like Daron Payne, Minkah Fitpatrick and some guy called Josh Rosen?

Imagine that secondary of Patrick Peterson as the shutdown corner, Malik Hooker and Derwin James as the Safety duo, last year’s second rounder Budda Baker in at the slot corner spot…and probably Brandon Williams at CB2? I really should have done over that pick as well. Ah well.

What a secondary that would have. Look what I could have done instead of Steve Keim.

2019 NFL Draft – K1. Duh.

The Cardinals Actual Selection – Kyler Murray, Quarterback, Oklahoma
The Cards’ Hindsight Selection – Kyler Murray, Quarterback, Oklahoma

Well, I mean, you can’t expect a change for this selection when he hasn’t even played a single down in the NFL yet – not because he’s garbage, but because it’s the off-season, duh – and all we’re hearing this offseason is how amazing he is looking like a rookie.

The future is bright with Kyler Murray, but it could have been much brighter with me and my power of hindsight drafting the superstars of tomorrow instead of Steve Keim.

As I mentioned before, Mr Bidwill, you know where I am if you want to make that call.

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