Cardinals hoping to come up lucky at No. 7
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Regardless of what Cardinals general manager Steve Keim or coach Bruce Arians might have said at Thursday’s pre-draft press conference, there is no sure way to know what the Cardinals will do with the No. 7 pick in next weekend’s NFL draft.
Credit Keim for feeling comfortable enough to admit that when asked how many offensive linemen the Cardinals had rated as first-round picks.
“Well, I could tell you, but it probably wouldn’t be the truth,” Keim said, drawing laughter. “So I’d prefer not to answer that one.”
This time of year is infamous for the misinformation flowing from all 32 NFL teams as they try to throw media and other clubs off the scent of their true intentions. Aside from that, the Cards don’t know what will happen with the six picks before them, although they probably have a pretty good idea since there are so few.
While some mock drafts still have the Cardinals selecting a quarterback at that spot, that choice seems highly unlikely given the free-agent signing of backup Drew Stanton and the trade for Carson Palmer, whom Arians has already named the starter. The more likely scenarios are an impact pass rusher or an offensive lineman to shore up an area the Cards have not really addressed in free agency (other than the signing of backup guard Chilo Rachal).
Arians insists that drafting for need is a recipe for disaster in the NFL because you end up overvaluing players, but lots of coaches and GMs say that only to draft a player that fills a need in their next breath. The idea Arians is floating makes sense, but it is far from an absolute, and it is one numerous NFL teams violate every year.
“You’ll have four or five guys graded within a fraction of each other. If one of them is a need position, well, obviously that would take precedent over a strength on your team already,” Arians said.
Both Keim and Arians made it clear Thursday that they expect the No. 7 pick to have an immediate impact.
“If we draft this guy at seven, if he expects me to keep my job, he’s going to play,” Keim said, smiling, before Arians quickly added, “Mine, too.”
So will No. 7 be a lucky pick for the Cards? Arizona has only selected No. 7 twice in its history, and you can see the results below. A look at the history of the No. 7 pick over the past 20 years, while is probably still too small a sample size, reveals a mixed bag.
At the top of the positive spectrum – as if Cardinals fans need to be reminded again – is running back Adrian Peterson, whom the Vikings took two picks after the Cards selected Levi Brown. Last season, Peterson fell nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, and this came following major knee reconstruction.
Aldon Smith has already made a Pro Bowl, Champ Bailey has been a terrific cover corner for years and Thomas Jones, of course, evolved into a very good running back after he left Arizona for Chicago and New York, rushing for more than 1,100 yards in five straight seasons, including 1,402 yards and 14 TDs in 2009.
On the flip side, there has been an even larger share of disappointments, such as Curtis Conway, Byron Leftwich, Troy Williamson and Roy Williams, or players with off-field issues such as Terry Glenn, Bryant McKinnie and Kyle Turley.
Looking at the list, you’d expect to find a greater number of high-impact players at No. 7, but that simply hasn’t been the case. The Cardinals clearly hope they can buck that trend.
Thomas Jones, RB, Virginia1974: J.V. Cain, TE,
Mark Barron, SS, Alabama (Tampa Bay)2011: Aldon
Smith, LB, Missouri (San Francisco)2010: Joe
Haden, CB, Florida (Cleveland)2009: Darrius
Heyward-Bay, WR, Maryland (Oakland)2008: Sedrick
Ellis, DT, USC (New Orleans)2007: Adrian
Peterson, RB, Oklahoma (Minnesota)2006: Michael
Huff, SS, Texas (Oakland)2005: Troy Williamson,
WR, South Carolina (Minnesota)2004: Roy Williams,
WR, Texas (Detroit)2003: Byron Leftwich, QB,
Marshall (Jacksonville)2002: Bryant McKinnie, OT,
Miami (Minnesota)2001: Andre Carter, DE,
California (San Francisco)2000: Thomas Jones, RB,
Virginia (Arizona)1999: Champ Bailey, CB,
Georgia (Washington)1998: Kyle Turley, OG, North
Carolina (New Orleans)1997: Ike Hilliard, WR,
Florida (New Orleans)1996: Terry Glenn, WR, Ohio
State (New England)1995: Mike Mamula, DE, Boston
College (Philadelphia)1994: Bryant Young, DT,
Notre Dame (San Francisco)1993: Curtis Conway,
WR, USC (Chicago)
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