By the time the Arizona Cardinals step up to the podium for the first time on April 25th a couple of hours will have past and 30 other team will have chosen their first round draft pick. For a franchise that's held a top 15 overall pick in the NFL draft in 13 of the previous 15 drafts, the Cardinals front office will be on some uncommon ground. Recent Cardinals draft picks have become almost instant starters and solid contributors as rookies but can we expect the same results this year?
Here's a look at each player who was selected 31st overall in the previous ten years.
2008 - Kenny Phillips (FS) - New York Giants: Phillips' rookie season mirrored many of this list (16 games, 3 starts) and the Giants expect him to be a starter in 2009. Despite not getting many starts Phillips still racked up 67 tackles and a pick.
2007 - Greg Olsen (TE) - Chicago Bears: Olson parlayed a tremendous combine performance into a first round selection and considering he's been on the passing-challenged Bears for the past two seasons ,he's been pretty decent. He's still not a full time starter but he's picked up 11 starts over the two seasons and is progressing quickly. He was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2008 and his 54 receptions, 574 yards and five TDs are quite remarkable considering the passing limitations in Chicago.
2006 - Kelly Jennings (CB) - Seattle Seahawks: Jennings has been up and down in his three seasons as a pro. He's played in every game so far but he started two games as rookie, 15 games as a sophomore but lost his starting job last season resulting in just six starts. He's still a decent tackler but his ball skills (one pick in 23 starts) leave plenty to be desired.
2005 - Mike Patterson (DT) - Philadelphia Eagles: Patterson started seven games rookie season and has started 47 of 48 games over the past three seasons. He's averaged 51 tackles and just over two sacks per season since entering the league and his play was impressive enough for the Eagles to offer him a seven year extension after just his second season.
2004 - RaShaun Woods (WR) - San Francisco 49ers: Woods was a record setting receiver at Oklahoma State but his career never got off the ground. He lasted two seasons in the NFL with the Niners, playing all 14 games of his career in his rookie season (7 rec, 160 yards, 1TD). He spent the '05 season on IR with a thumb injury and was traded to the Chargers the following off season. San Diego cut him just four months later though and his NFL career was over after the Broncos tried to claim him off waivers but he couldn't pass a physical. He spent a short amount of time in NFL Europa and the CFL but couldn't revive his career.
2003 - Nnamdi Asomugha (CB) - Oakland Raiders: Asomugha wasn't a full time starter until his third season with the Raiders, after starting just eight games in his first two seasons, but he's since established himself as the best cover corner in the NFL. He's started 61 games over the past four seasons and the closest thing that the league has to a true 'shut down' corner.
2002 - Robert Thomas (OLB) - St. Louis Rams: Thomas started 30 games for the Rams over his first three seasons but he's since played for the Packers and Raiders without ever establishing himself as much more than decent backup and special teams player. He's started just 20 games over the past four seasons but his best year came in 2003 when he had 72 tackles and two sacks for the Rams.
2001 - Reggie Wayne (WR) - Indianapolis Colts: Wayne started 16 games during his first two seasons but he's been the Colts full time starter for the past six seasons. Has hasn't missed a game midway through his rookie season and has averaged 1,178 yards and eight TDs since becoming a full time starter in 2003.
2000 - Keith Bullock (LB) - Tennnessee Titans: Bullock didn't become a full-time starter until his third season but he's started 112 consecutive games for the Titans and has averaged over 125 tackles per season during that span. Bulluck's been one of the most consistent and productive linebackers since 2002 and he's been voted to one All-Pro team and one Pro Bowl squad.
1999 - Al Wilson (LB) - Denver Broncos: Wilson, a former Tennessee Volunteer, became an instant contributor for the Broncos starting 12 games as a rookie and playing in all 16. He career lasted eight seasons (119 starts) before a serious neck injury effectively ended his career at the age of 29. He was a voted to one All-Pro team and five Pro Bowls and he finished his career with 580 tackles, 21.5 sacks and five interceptions.
Considering the unexpected nature of the NFL draft, seven or eight quality players out of ten picks are odds that can't be too disapointing. With Woods being the only true 'bust' of the group, it's somewhat encouraging when trying to project what kind of player the Cardinals will select. One might even argue that the odds of finding a quality starter at the end of round one might be better than finding one in the top five or ten picks. Are you surprised by these ten or do you think this is just an analomy?