The Arizona Cardinals would enter the 2006 draft with the tenth overall pick after a 5-11 season. It would be Dennis Green's last draft to oversee.
Two seasons into Leinart’s career he’s started a combined 16 games and while his stats aren’t eye popping by any means they’re not terrible for basically a season. With nearly 3,200 yards, 13 TDs, 16 INTs, a 56.0 % completion percentage and a QB rating of 71.2, he didn’t immediately become the Cardinals’ savior as we’d all hoped but he’s still young and it’ll be his second season in the same offense. He struggled in 2007 with a change in the coaching staff which isn’t all that uncommon for a young quarterback. Hopefully some consistency in the coaching staff and offensive system will help him reach a full potential not to mention his mix of explosive weapons.
Other possible picks: Jay Cutler, Haloti Ngata, Antonio Cromartie
Second Round: Deuce Lutui OG – USC
Lutui came has started 24 of the 30 games he's played over the past two seasons and goes into camp looking to improve on his first full season as a starter. He's got to work on his consistency and having the same starting five for the second year in a row should help out quite a bit. Lutui looks to have a solid future ahead of him andsome consider him the best
member of the Cards offensive line. Whether or not he's the best or not, the right side of the line seems set for the next several years with Lutui and Levi Brown.
Other possible picks: LenDale White, Marcus McNeil, Kellen Clemens
Third Round: Leonard Pope TE – Georgia
Pope is a mountain of man at nearly 6'8 260 pounds and even though he's yet to stay healthy for a full season, he showed flashes of a dynamic red zone target with 5 touchdowns in 2007. His biggest weakness so far in his career has been an inconsistency in the running game but with former Steeler, Russ Grimm, instructing the offensive line, there's hope that he'll improve in that area and become a complete player. Together Pope and Ben Patrick should be a fairly versatile and effective one-two punch at the tight end position, if they can manage to stay healthy.
Other possible picks: Jerious Norwood, Anthony Smith, Brodie Croyle
Fourth Round: Gabe Watson DT –
Watson became a full-time starter in 2007 and the results were somewhat mixed. On one hand, with the increased 3-4 defense his stats don't look as impressive as they were his rookie season. Nose tackles in the 3-4 rarely rack up good stats though since they basically asked to hold their ground and occupy as many blockers as possible.Most of the time a 3-4 nose tackle is the key to the front seven's ability to stop the run, so
considering the Cards ranked in the top 10 in run defense they can't be too unhappy with his performance. Watson and Alan Branch should team up to be formidable duo and give opposing centers fits every game.
Other possible picks: Leon Washington, Brandon Marshall, Willie Colon
Fifth Round: Brandon Johnson LB –
Johnson was an undersized but athletic outside linebacker who didn't get much of an opportunity in Arizona but didn't do much with his limited playing time. In 9 career games he had just 4 tackles after being known as a standout-special teams player during his days at Louisville. He was a free agent this offseason andsigned with Cincinnati
Other possible picks: Dawan Landry, Brad Butler
Sixth Round: Jonathan Lewis DT – Virginia Tech
Lewis would play in four games during his rookie season but would be cut during in August of 2007. Since then he ended the 2007 season on the Oakland Raiders' practice squad but wasn't resigned and has since signed with and been cut by the Seahawks. Shortly after being cut by the 'Hawks he signed a one year deal with the Lions.
Other possible picks: Lawrence Vickers, Antoine Bethea
Seventh Round: Todd Watkins WR – BYU
Watkins would spend most of the 2006 season on the practice squad after being a 'toolsy' prospect in the '06 draft. The 6'3 receiver had sub 4.4 speed but has yet to put it all together. He's bounced around from the Cardinals to the Falcons and was recently signed by the Raiders and he's yet to appear in an NFL game.
Other possible picks: DJ Shockley, Rodrique Wright
Looking back it's hard to be too disappointed in a draft that has produced 4 players who've combined to start 78 games over the course of two seasons. Watson and Pope could eventually end up losing their jobs to but both are at the very least quality players who will help this team win in the future. Leinart and Lutui should both be solid starters and possibly Pro Bowl caliber players in the future and will be cornerstones for the offense for years to come. The continued progression of Leinart is critical to not only the Cardinals success in the future but also to the perceived view of this draft class. For now I'd have to give it a B.