Arizona (and Phoenix) Cardinals All-Time Draft Picks Team: Offense
Since the Arizona Cardinals moved to the Valley from St. Louis in 1988, they’ve drafted 278 players — from their very first pick, linebacker Ken Harvey from California in 1988, all the way to last season’s seventh-round pick (and Mr. Irrelevant) Caleb Wilson, a tight end from UCLA.
With that many picks in their team history, yes, it is possible to field a team comprised of nothing but their very own draft picks.
Before general manager Steve Keim adds more talent through the draft later this month, this is as good a time as ever to construct such a team.
So, starting with the offensive side of the ball, here you go:
Yes, Jake Plummer (2nd round, 1997) has more starts, wins, yards and touchdown passes than any other Cardinals’ QB draft pick, but Murray did something no other signal caller has in Arizona — he won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. In the process, he justified Keim’s 180-degree about-face from 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen.
Murray threw for 3,722 yards and 20 touchdowns while adding 544 more yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The belief is he’s just scratched the surface.
Others considered: Jake Plummer
There was more than a little bit of rejoicing when the Cardinals were able to unload Johnson’s albatross of a contract and pick up DeAndre Hopkins in the same trade (again, how did that happen?), but you can’t escape the fact that Johnson is the franchise’s leading rusher since 1988.
Johnson’s contributions on offense and special teams helped the Cards to a franchise-best 13-3 record in 2015. In 2016, all he did was lead the league in yards from scrimmage and total touchdowns.
Number 31 became a source of frustration late in his tenure in the desert, but he’s the best they’ve ever drafted.
Others considered: Johnny Johnson, Garrison Hearst, Ronald Moore, Michael Pittman, Thomas Jones, Tim Hightower, Beanie Wells
FB: Larry Centers — Fifth-round pick (115th overall) in 1990 out of Stephen F. Austin
Centers wasn’t a tremendous threat as a runner (only 1,736 yards over nine seasons), but as a chip-blocker and receiver, he was devastating.
Centers ranks third in Arizona team history in receptions, with 535, behind only two guys to be named at the next position.
Others considered: None
Fitz holds every receiving record in team history. Back for a 17th season in the desert, he’s threatening Jerry Rice’s all-time receptions record, which at one time seemed totally out of reach.
His performance, combined with his dedication to the franchise and the community, makes Fitzgerald far and away the best draft pick the franchise has ever made.
Many Cardinals fans were outraged when Arizona traded the 10th overall pick in the draft to Baltimore and passed on ASU stud pass rusher Terrell Suggs. The two first-round picks they did make that year (Bryant Johnson and Calvin Pace) never really did much in the Valley.
Boldin, their second-round pick, was a bit of a consolation. The former high school quarterback (hell, he even played QB for the Seminoles in the 2003 Sugar Bowl) made an early impression with 214 receiving yards in his first game, and played with a maniacal ferocity every time he took the field for the Cardinals.
Sanders, believe it or not, is fourth on the Cardinals’ all-time Arizona receiving list with 493 catches.
He had his best two seasons in 1997 and 1998, going over 1,000 yards receiving both years while forming a deadly one-two punch with Rob Moore.
Others considered: David Boston, Ricky Proehl, Michael Floyd, John Brown, Ernie Jones
This may have been the hardest position to pick on the whole squad due to the sheer void of impact tight ends Arizona has drafted in the last 32 years.
Patrick gets the nod simply by scoring the Cardinals’ first touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Others considered: Rob Housler
Davis wasn’t the savior of the offensive line that the Cardinals were hoping for when they invested the second pick in the draft to get him. He’d split time at tackle and guard during his six-year stint with the team and started 91 out of a possible 96 games.
He’d actually continue developing after signing a massive free agent contract with Dallas, where he’d earn three Pro Bowl honors in his first three years there.
*Braces for ‘you’re an idiot’ comments below, but hear me out.*
I know the Cardinals passed up on a chance to draft Adrian Peterson in that slot, but let’s remember that they had just signed Edgerrin James to a $30 million deal a year earlier.
And I’ve always maintained that Brown was thought of as a bust because he wasn’t Peterson, who set records in Minnesota. But the truth is, Brown was a serviceable fixture on the Arizona line for five years, including the only NFC Championship team in franchise history.
Other considered: L.J. Shelton, Bobby Massie, D.J. Humphries
Wells came out of a tiny school that had only produced one other draft pick ever, but he turned out to be a solid NFL player in Arizona.
No other guard drafted by the Cardinals since 1988 started more games at the position than Wells, who helped Arizona to the Super Bowl in the 2008 season.
Lutui took over a starting guard spot in Week 8 of his rookie season and would hold on to it for the next four-and-a-half seasons.
Others considered: Chris Dishman, Anthony Clement
If only the Cardinals had more than five picks in the 2007 draft, they may have used one on Texas center Lyle Sendlein, who became a stalwart on the offensive line, but only after he was signed as an undrafted free agent. That would have made this choice a lot simpler.
So we’ll go with Graham, who started 40 games in the middle of the offensive line, including 13 for the 1998 playoff squad that knocked off the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round.
Others considered: Ed Cunningham, Mason Cole