This is a post defending Ken Whisenhunt (yes this is the correct spelling). I have heard a lot about Whisenhunt being blamed for the poor performance of the Offensive Line and that he should have drafted an O-linemen in the draft. I also hear him being blamed for the lack of pass rush and that he should have drafted a pass rusher. The fact of the matter is Whisenhunt has drafted very well, unfortunately circumstances haven't played out to get an elite tackle or pass rusher. This post will outline the drafts of the Cardinals from 2007 to 2011. Keep in mind though hindsight is 20/20.
2007- Worst Draft of the Whisenhunt Era
1st round, pick #5- Levi Brown OT Penn State
Well Cardinals fans there is the Offensive tackle we wanted to draft. However when drafted many thought Levi Brown was a reach in a bad OT year. No one thought he'd be as poor a player as he is now though. This may go down a Whisenhunts biggest mistake as he passed on Adrian Petersen, Patrick Willis, Darrelle Revis and Lawrence Timmons. Remember hindsight is 20/20 and OT was one of the Cardinals biggest needs
2nd round, pick #33- Alan Branch DT Michigan
When picked Alan Branch was thought as a possible steal in the draft. He had all the talent of a first rounder but none of the motivation. Branch may be considered a bust as he had only one year of even notice and is no longer with the team. Passed on Paul Posluszny LB Penn State, Zach Miller TE ASU, or Eric Weddle S.
3rd round, pick #69- Buster Davis LB Florida State
5th round, pick 142 Steve Breaston WR Michigan
Breaston turned out to be the best pick of the draft. He was a great 3rd receiver and good 2nd receiver and a playmaker for the Cardinals. However Breaston is no longer on the team. That is not Ken Whisenhunt's fault though that falls on Bidwell the owner for not wanting to pay that man.
7th round, pick #215- Ben Patrick TE Delaware
Patrick showed some flashes but never the heart. He was cut form the team and is now retired. Not bad for a 7th round pick though. Missed on Ahmad Bradshaw but so did 31 other teams.
2008- Best Draft of Whisenhunt Era
Every pick of this draft contributed in large part for the Cardinals, that is unheard of.
1st round, pick #16- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie CB Tennessee State
This pick produced a Pro Bowl corner. However this was the one draft filled with offensive line talent. While taking DRC they missed out on taking some above average tackles in Gosder Cherilus, Jeff Otah and Sam Baker. All of the three start for their teams Lions, Panthers and Falcons and have for multiple years. I don't blame Whiz for taking DRC.
2nd round, pick #50- Calais Campbell DE Miami
Calais Campbell is a very good defensive end at times and a below average at others. He needs to find consistency in his play however this is the second starter drafted in this draft. Other notable possible drafts Ray Rice and Mike Pollack. Rice is very good but few thought he could be (I wasn't one of them thought he was a beast) Pollack is a least then average guard for Indianapolis.
3rd round, pick #81- Early Doucet WR LSU
Doucet hasn't quite match his potetial but I can confidently declare him a decent 3rd receiver. The only notable miss was Oneil Cousins an above average tackle drafted by the Ravens.
4th round, pick #116- Kenny Iwebema DE Iowa
Iwebema was steal in this draft. He was a very good rotational end that was key to our D-line success in 2009. However in week 7 of 2010 he had a knee injury and was not quite the same the next year. He was cut this year which was disappointing becuase he was a good backup to Calias Campbell. Josh Sitton guard for the Packers was a notable miss he has started every game since 2008.
5th round, pick #149- Tim Hightower RB Richmond
Hightower was a big gem in this draft. The 3rd starter drafted in 2008. He became a do everything back. However he was traded to the Redskins and is doing well. Notable miss Carl Nicks Pro Bowl guard for the Saints
7th round, pick #225- Brandon Keith OT Northern Iowa
Keith has shown some good and some bad. He has been injured which has limited his development but I still think for a 7th round pick to be considered a starter mean this was a good pick. Still like what Keith can do if with one more year. Notable miss Peyton Hillis
2009- An average draft some good some bads
1st round, pick #31 Beanie Wells RB Ohio State
Ask me last year I'd of said bust but Beanie is finally showing something. Picking at 31 the Cards missed out on some talent at OT earlier in the draft. After this year this pick will be better defined. Notable misses Louis Delmas safety, James Laurinatis MLB, Eben Britton OT.
2nd round, pick #63- Cody Brown DE Connecticut
Brown is another bust for Ke Whisenhunt. He recognized the need for a pass rush but Brown never panned out. Picking at the end of the round doesn't leave much talent left though. Notable miss Shonn Greene but after drafting Beanie he wouldn't have taken him any way.
3rd round, pick #95- Rashard Johnson Alabama
Johnson is a back up safety he has shown some good stuff and some bad stuff. He will start this weekend and we will see how much he has grown.
4th round, pick 131 Greg Toler DB St. Pauls
Toler has looked good now. He had made he way to the starting lineup and is a solid #2. Might of been steal of the draft if not for a later pick. No other notable talent even close to drafted near him.
5th round, pick #167- Herman Johnson G LSU
Johnson is big, he is slow and did not make it as an NFL guard but he was on the team for a couple of year and for a 5th round pick that's what you ask for.
6th round, pick #204- Will Davis Illinois
Will Davis is another failed attempt to draft a pass rusher. So far this is Ken Whisenhunts flaw in the draft
7th roud, pick #240 LaRod Stephens-Howling RB Pittsburgh
The "Hyphen" as he is known by, is a dangerous kick returner. I dare say second or third best in the league. Steal of the draft.
7th round, pick #254 Trevor Canfield G Cincinati
Who? Doesn't matter...
2010- Might be too early to analyze this class. This class was also severely affected by the Lockout and lack of a full off season. At 26th we couldn't get an elite tackle or Sam Bradford and Tebow and McCoy wouldn't have fit our system.
1st round, pick #26- Dan Williams DT Tennessee
Once again the Cardinals success put them out of contention for the numerous amount of 1st round tackles. The Cardinals did the reasonable thing and drafted the much needed NT. When it happened I liked this pick Williams has all the skills you want in a NT. However his drive and motivation was a question and that is not something you want in a 3-4 D-linemen. Williams showed up out of condition and hasn't lived up to his talent because of conditioning. In a year we will be able to tell if this is a continued trend and Williams is a bust. Locke better kick his ass this off-season.
2nd round, pick #47- Daryl Washington ILB TCU
Washington has really impressed in all aspects of the game. I compare him to Lawrence Timmons of the Steelers. Like Timmons I think he needs to put on like 15lbs this next off-season and he will be in the conversation with Pat Willis and Lawrence Timmons. Other LB drafted after him; Jason Worilds, Sean Lee and some people even wanted us to draft Jimmy Clausen.
3rd round, pick #88- Andre Roberts WR Citidel
Andre Roberts may have been hurt the most by the Lockout. Why? Well a WR biggest jump is from his rookie year to his second year. Roberts' growth was stunted due to lack of ability to talk to coaches or go to facility. He was also hurt becuase he was thrust into the starting lineup because of the loss of Steve Breaston. Roberts can be a very good 3rd WR time will tell if he can be a good starter.
4th round, pick #130- O'Brien Schofield LB Wisconsin
The first OLB drafted by Whisenhunt that hasn't been a complete bust. Schofield has shown flashes at times but not enough. I am not sure if he is the future but I am not sure he isn't. He was definitely hurt by the system change and lack of off-season. Want to see more of him, cause I think he can be at least average.
5th round, pick #155- John Skelton QB Fordham-
My favorite pick of the draft. I actually call this way back to Skelton's combine performance. Skelton is big strong and athletic. I thought Ken Whisenhunt would use him as this teams Ben Roethlisberger. With a full off-season to study the subtleties of the offense I don't thik we make the Kevin Kolb trade. Given one more year I thought John would be a franchise QB. Other notable picks Matt Tennant and Marshall Newhouse both look good now.
6th round, pick #201- Jorrick Clavin DB Troy
The guy was traded early in training cam to the Eagles. This was the first DB the Cardinals traded to Philly.
2011- Definitely too early to address these picks but I will try.
1st round, pick #5- Patrick Petersen DB LSU
This is the not Von Miller pick. Why the Broncos pick him is beyond me because this guy would have been on another level as a 3-4 ROLB. Patrick Petersen was the can't miss pick. DB isn't that important in Hortons scheme but the Cardinals could find a trade partner and couldn't pass him up. I believe, because of how A.J. Jefferson is playing and because we will have Greg Toler and Richard Marshall , that Patrick Petersen will be move to Safety in the next two years. Safety play is much more important in this system and Wilson hasn't cut it. Could of had Aldon Smith or Tyron Smith but it would have been too high and the Cards remember last time the reached and took a tackle at #5.
2nd round, pick #38- Ryan Williams RB Virginia Tech.
Going to be hard to defend this pick because of Williams injury. Look he was a high character kid who flashed in training camp. However we could of had Akeem Ayers, Brooks Reed both could have made good 3-4 LOLBs or Ben Ijalan or Orlando Franklin as O-linemen. I think William will be good but we didn't need to get rid of Tim Hightower we needed a pass rusher or O-linemen.
3rd round, pick #69- Rob Housler TE Florida Atlantic
Don't get me wrong this guy is a huge weapon but we did need pass rush. There was Justin Houston available as well as more O-line help in John Moffit and Will Rackley. Housler can be a beast but we had bigger needs. Right now Whisenhunt get the benefit because when you reach for need you have a better chance of busting. I wasn't of the opinion Justin Houston could be a good 3-4 OLB anyway. Good pick!
4th round, pick #103- Sam Acho DE Texas
I really liked this pick. Sam Acho I believe could make a solid LOLB in the 3-4. He is first of all smart which decreased he learning curve. He also has the frame. Don't think he has an elite first step but he could be a good LB for a log time. Just never going to be great. Good pick!
5th round, pick #137 Anthony Sherman RB Connecticut
Again liked this pick. Sherman was a do everything, blue collar FB need in this system. Notable misses Marcus Cannon however Cannon was diagnosed with Non-Hodgekins Lymphoma. He came through it in the off-season but if a year away from playing at least and who knows at what level.
6th round, pick #171- Quan Sturdivant LB North Carolina
Thought this could be big, need at ILB but Sturdivant didn't last.
6th round, pick #184- David Carter DT UCLA
Best pick of this draft. Not only did Carter have prior experience in a pro-style 3-4 defense at UCLA, but he has the drive and a non-stop motor. This 6th round pick is already pushing for starting time. New flash Graves this is the type of character you want in your D-linemen. Watch the guy the play 100% every snap and draft them.
7th round, pick #249- DeMarco Sampson San Diego State
Sampson looked good in preseason and made the the active roster. We will see how good he is with a full off-season under his belt.
So why did I write all that? Well I was ask who I blame for the Cardinals not playing well and not having a pass rusher or tackle. The proceeding showed that Ken Whisenhunt was a victim of circumstance when it came to an OT. Ironically it was the Cardinals success that kept them from getting an elite tackle. As for a pass rusher there hasn't been a lot of depth over the last couple of years. The biggest flaw is that we probably should have drafted Akeem Ayers or Brooks Reed, but that is being said without seeing Ryan Williams ever take a professional snap. So where does my blame go? It goes to Micheal Bidwell and his hierarchy. These guys had been known for year to not pay out the money to keep good player. Because of this policy and the losing Free Agents won't play here, Also because of this the Cardinals lose their up and coming players like a Steve Breaston. The Cardinals also looked unprepared to for the possible lockout. They fired the DC which means a new more advanced system needed to be learn in a severely condensed off season. The Cardinals also traded for Kevin Kolb who had to learn the offense in the same condense time. The organization as a whole should have prepared better for the lock out, Maybe not fire Billy Davis let him stay one more year, maybe don't trade away Tim Hightower because you know Beanie is injury prone. As I said hindsight is 20/20 and right now Whisenhunt is doing good with what he has. You can't make chicken soup out of chicken shit. If by week 11 or week 12 the Cardinals are still playing horribly then the blame game can start adding Whiz. However the Cards can't wait that long but it might be to their at vantage as the OT class is fairly good so far for this draft class. The Cards are a year away mark my words! Just hope the organization doesn't ruin that by starting from scratch. Consistency makes good teams good for long. The longer Graves knows the system he scouts for the better draft pick the Cardinals will have. Don't give up on Whiz yet and don't give up on season yet.
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