After months and months of speculation, it's finally here.
Thursday marks the start of the 2014 NFL Draft -- a three-day extravaganza during which 256 young men will become professional football players.
The Arizona Cardinals have six selections in this year's draft, including the 20th overall pick in the first round.
The player they'll pick in that slot will remain a mystery until Thursday night, but we can certainly look back at the team's 25 years of draft history since it moved to the Valley in 1988.
Here are some interesting odds and ends about the Cardinals' draft history that you may find interesting.
• In their history in Arizona, the Cardinals have drafted more players from Oklahoma and LSU than any other school. They've picked seven Sooners and seven Bayou Bengals -- with greatly different results.
Of the seven Oklahoma products they've picked, only three of them (Scott Evans, DE, 1991; Lance Mitchell, LB, 2005; and Jamell Fleming, CB, 2012) ever suited up for the team. The other four never played a snap in a regular-season NFL game.
Meanwhile, LSU players like Eric Hill, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu have thrived in the desert.
• The Cardinals have selected six players each from Auburn, Nebraska and Ohio State.
• Interestingly enough, the Cardinals have never selected a player from either Oregon or Oregon State -- those two schools have combined to have 126 players selected since 1988.
• Other BCS-conference teams that have never produced a Phoenix/Arizona draft pick: Baylor, Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Minnesota, Purdue and Texas Tech.
• The Cardinals have drafted as many players from Miami of Ohio (2) as they have from Miami of Florida. They've selected wide receiver Andy Schillinger (1988) and defensive back Paris Johnson (1999) out of Miami, OH, and defensive back Antrel Rolle (2005) and defensive end Calais Campbell (2008) out of "the U."
• Interestingly enough, the Cardinals have selected only one player from Notre Dame (Michael Floyd, 2012). In that span, there have been 135 Fighting Irish players drafted by NFL teams.
• More interestingly, three players from Sam Houston State (DB Ricky Royal, 1989; DE Michael Bankston, 1992; QB Josh McCown, 2002) have been drafted by the Cardinals. Only eight players from SHSU have been selected since 1988.
• The Cardinals have selected more players (4) from Arizona State and Washington than any other Pac-12 schools.
• The Cardinals have drafted more defensive backs (38) than any other position. Second on the list is linebacker, with 33 overall selections.
• Since '88, the Cardinals have drafted only seven centers -- including two in the same year! In 1992, they chose Washington center (and future college football analyst) Ed Cunningham in the third round and Jeff Christy out of Pittsburgh in the fourth round.
• Eleven quarterbacks have had their name called by the Cardinals on draft day -- starting with Tom Tupa in 1988 and ending with Ryan Lindley in 2012.
Of the 11, 10 played for the Cardinals in at least one regular-season game and eight started for the team. Of those who started games, John Skelton (5th round, 2010) had the best winning percentage (.471).
In all, drafted Cardinals starting QBs combined to go 60-97.
• Only Jeff Bridewell (12th round, 1991) never took a snap in a regular-season game.
• The Cardinals have had trouble finding productive tight ends in the draft. In all, they've selected 16 tight ends and Rob Housler (4th round, 2011) has more career receptions for the Cards (96) than anyone else.
All-time Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals Draft Team
|WR||Larry Fitzgerald||Pittsburgh||2004 - 1st Round, 3rd overall|
|T||Levi Brown||Penn State||2007 - 1st Round, 5th overall|
|G||Leonard Davis||Texas||2001 - 1st Round, 2nd overall|
|C||Ed Cunningham||Washington||1992 - 3rd Round, 61st overall|
|G||Reggie Wells||Clarion||2003 - 6th round, 177th overall|
|T||L.J. Shelton||Eastern Michigan||1999 - 1st round, 21st overall|
|TE||Rob Housler||Florida Atlantic||2011 - 3rd round, 69th overall|
|WR||Anquan Boldin||Florida State||2003 - 2nd round, 54th overall|
|QB||Jake Plummer||Arizona State||1997 - 2nd round, 42nd overall|
|RB||Beanie Wells||Ohio State||2009 - 1st round, 31st overall|
|RB||Johnny Johnson||San Jose State||1990 - 7th round, 169th overall|
|FB||Larry Centers||Stephen F. Austin||1990 - 5th round, 115th overall|
|DE||Simeon Rice||Illinois||1996 - 1st round, 3rd overall|
|DT||Eric Swann||Wake Technical CC||1991 - 1st round, 6th overall|
|DT||Darnell Dockett||Florida State||2004 - 3rd round, 64th overall|
|DE||Calais Campbell||Miami, FL||2008, 2nd round, 50th overall|
|LB||Jamir Miller||UCLA||1994 - 1st round, 10th overall|
|LB||Karlos Dansby||Auburn||2004 - 2nd round, 33rd overall|
|LB||Eric Hill||LSU||1989 - 1st round, 10th overall|
|LB||Daryl Washington||TCU||2010 - 2nd round, 47th overall|
|CB||Aeneas Williams||Southern||1991 - 3rd round, 59th overall|
|S||Adrian Wilson||North Carolina State||2001 - 3rd round, 64th overall|
|S||Antrel Rolle||Miami, FL||2005 - 1st round, 8th overall|
|CB||Patrick Peterson||LSU||2011 - 1st round, 5th overall|
|K||Bill Gramatica||South Florida||2001 - 4th round, 98th overall|
|P||Tom Tupa||Ohio State||1988 - 3rd round, 68th overall|
Five Cardinals' draft picks who worked out better for other teams
• DT Chad Eaton (1995 - 7th round, 241st overall)- Eaton was cut in training camp and never played a regular season game for the Cardinals. But he was picked up by the New England Patriots and enjoyed a productive career. The Washington State product was a five-year starter with the Pats and Seahawks and registered 15.5 career sacks.
• C Jeff Christy (1992 - 4th round, 91st overall) - Many were confused when the Cardinals used two of their top three picks in 1992 on centers. Washington's Ed Cunningham was the team's third-round pick and they piggy-backed it with the selection of Christy, out of Pittsburgh. Well, the double-center offense never materialized and Christy was cut. He hooked on with the Minnesota Vikings in 1993 and stuck around as their starting center for six years before moving on to Tampa Bay for the final three seasons of his career. Christy was a three-time Pro Bowler.
• RB Garrison Hearst (1994 - 1st round, 3rd overall) - Admittedly, Hearst's first two years in the desert were complicated by knee injuries. In his third season, 1997, he fought his way back to the field and ran for 1,070 yards for the Cardinals. For his hard work, he was cut in August of 1996 and signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. He'd last just one season there before hooking on with the San Francisco 49ers, where he experienced a career rebirth. He ran for 1,000 or more yards in three straight seasons, including a 1,570-yard campaign in 1998. He's fifth on the 49ers' all-time career rushing list.
• DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (2001 - 2nd round, 34th overall) - Like Hearst, Vanden Bosch's time in Arizona was defined by injuries. The former Nebraska Cornhusker had just four quarterback sacks in three seasons with the Cardinals. But after moving on to the Tennessee Titans, Vanden Bosch was able to stay healthy and sacked opposing QBs 38.5 times while earning three trips to the Pro Bowl.
• DT Darwin Walker (2000 - 3rd round, 71st overall) - Walker would play exactly one game in a Cardinals uniform before getting cut and being picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles. He'd spend the next six years in Philly as a starter on their D-line while racking up 27.5 sacks.