Arizona Cardinals Top 10 Draft Successes: No. 9, LaRod Stephens-Howling

We began yesterday with the new draft series -- who have been the biggest draft successes for the Arizona Cardinals since 1990? Yesterday we kicked it off with Johnny Johnson, the 10th biggest draft success. Today at number nine, we go with another running back who also was drafted in the seventh round. However, this player is currently a member of the Cardinals and is a very important contributor for the success of the team.

Let us see draft success number nine...LaRod Stephens-Howling.

Stephens-Howling (known as "Hyphen" by many) was a seventh round selection by the Cardinals in 2009. He was the 240th player selected. At that point in the draft, teams will take risks. Hyphen is small -- really small. He is listed at 5-7, 180 lbs. in college, he only started one year at Pitt. He was replaced in 2007 by now Philadelphia Eagle LeSean McCoy. 

The Cardinals drafted him primarily to compete for a spot on the roster as a returner, which he did basically only his senior year. 

Hyphen has been so much more valuable than his draft position. His rookie year was only returns and very few plays from scrimmage. He carried the ball only six times and returned 52 kicks, one for a touchdown. His speed was noticed. He posted a 4.41 40 time at the NFL combine. 

In 2010 he became a bona fide scoring threat. Yes, 2010 was a terrible year for the team, but Hyphen became the team's biggest scoring threat. He returned 57 kicks and averaged over 27 yards per return. He returned two for touchdowns and had a third touchdown nullified by a penalty. If the conversation is about the best returners in the NFL, his name certainly deserves to be brought up along with guys like Josh Cribbs, Devin Hester and Leon Washington.

He even saw an expanded role in the running game. He averaged just under five yards per carry in 23 attempts and even found the endzone once. I would expect to see him featured even more in the running game in 2011.

Because of his spectacular contributions to the return game and his low draft position, he makes this list of biggest draft successes for the Cardinals.

 


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