We have almost reached the 2011 NFL Draft and Cardinals fans are hoping for impact players that will create success for their team for years to come. We all know that some players surprise and others disappoint. Today we continue counting down the biggest success stories that the Arizona Cardinals have had with the draft. We are now at number three.
Looking back so far on the draft successes, we have covered Johnny Johnson, LaRod Stephens Howling, Steve Breaston, Eric Swann, the combination of Darnell Dockett and Karlos Dansby, Larry Centers and most recently Adrian Wilson.
Today we look at a big draft success, receiver Anquan Boldin.
Anquan Boldin was drafted by the Cardinals in 2003 with their second round pick, the 54th overall. It was a fateful year in the fact that we must recall how in the first round the team traded down to draft Calvin Pace and Bryant Johnson instead of local pass rushing stud Terrell Suggs. Johnson sadly is now remembered by us as one of the Cardinals' biggest draft busts.
In 2003, Boldin was ranked the fifth best receiver in the draft class and would have been drafted higher, but his 40 time at the combine caused his stock to fall. He ran a 4.72, certainly not a great time for a skill position.
Boldin immediately made his name known. In his debut, he set an NFL debut record with 217 receiving yards. He finished his rookie season with 101 receptions and 1377 yards and was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He was also the only rookie named to the Pro Bowl.
He earned a reputation for being one of the toughest receivers to tackle in the league and is famous for his catch and run for a game-winning touchdown against the 49ers several years ago, when he broke multiple tackles to get to the endzone.
He became the fastest player to log 300, 400 and then 500 receptions in a career, and this was even when he would frequently miss a few games because of injuries.
In his stay with the Cardinals, he twice caught more than 100 passes in a season, three additional years caught over 80 and amassed over 1000 yards receiving five times.
For the years of miserable team play he went through, the price of admission was frequently enough just to watch him play with the same intensity, regardless the game outcome.
He was traded last offseason to the Baltimore Ravens after years of contract unhappiness, but no one can deny that he was one of the Cardinals' best draft picks ever.
Note: To those who wonder why Boldin is above Wilson, it came down to the fact that Boldin made a huge contribution even his rookie year. Wilson did not start his rookie season.
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