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Cardinals get CJ2K, lose out on Campbell in The Ringer’s 2008 re-draft

(AP photos)

It’s been a minute since the Arizona Cardinals last went to the Super Bowl. By a minute, we mean a decade.

The 2008 season feels just like yesterday, and the folks at The Ringer are celebrating a weird, wacky NFL season this week as the 2018 preseason begins 10 years later. On Friday, The Ringer published a 2008 NFL re-draft.

Because 2008 was such an important year for the Cardinals, a lot stands out from the exercise.

That’s because before going to the Super Bowl at the end of the 2008 season, Arizona used its second-round pick at 50th overall to select Miami defensive end Calais Campbell. Still going strong for the Jacksonville Jaguars a decade later after spending his first nine years with the Cardinals, Campbell went second overall to the St. Louis Rams in The Ringer’s re-draft.

The big, 6-foot-8, 300-pound defensive lineman out of Miami (originally chosen by the Cardinals with the 50th overall pick) is as disruptive as they come: He’s collected 71.0 sacks, 45 pass deflections, 11 forced fumbles, and three picks in his 10-year career, winning All-Pro honors three times (two second team, one first team). He finished tied for second in the league in sacks last year (14.5) for the Jaguars at 31 years old.

Taking Campbell off the board second after quarterback Matt Ryan, who went No. 1 to the Miami Dolphins, would have obviously changed the Cardinals’ fortunes.

In the real 2008 draft, Arizona selected Tennessee State cornerback Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie 16th overall, tapping into the small school pipeline before taking Campbell with its second pick.

Cromartie was by no means a bust, playing in 16 games in each of his three years with the Cardinals and picking up 10 interceptions in his first two seasons before he was traded to Philadelphia in a deal for quarterback Kevin Kolb.

While his career is still going — Rodgers-Cromartie has been working out as a free agent for teams this week — The Ringer has better ideas for the Cardinals if they were to hop back in the time machine.

How about taking East Carolina running back Chris Johnson with that No. 16 pick?

CJ2K is known mostly for his 2,006-yard, 14-touchdown sophomore campaign, but he enjoyed a long and productive career well after that seminal season. In all, he racked up 9,651 yards on the ground, another 2,255 yards as a receiver, and 64 touchdowns. He could’ve been an excellent complement to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in the Kurt Warner–led offense.

That might’ve added just a little more offensive punch in Super Bowl XLIII, which Arizona lost to the Steelers, 27-23, after producing just 33 total rushing yards in the game. Johnson was a 1,000-yard back in his first six years, all of which were spent with the Tennessee Titans after he went 24th overall in the 2008 draft.

Of course, the Cardinals got a late taste of CJ2K from 2015-17, the final years of his career. He rushed for 814 yards in 11 games of 2015 before suffering a season-ending injury, opening the door for Arizona’s new star back, David Johnson.

Bringing up David Johnson, a third-round pick in 2015, is a nice way to circle back to the Cardinals-angled theme brought up in The Ringer’s re-draft.

And that’s the fact that the Cardinals have pulled off some pretty nice middle-round draft heists in the last decade.

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