Looking Back On The Arizona Cardinals Draft Class Of 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 01: Runningback LaRod Stephens-Howling #36 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates with Beanie Wells #26 after LaRod Stephens-Howling scored a 19 yard touchdown reception against the Denver Broncos during the first quarter of the preseason NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Broncos 26-7. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

After reading a blog post from the Arizona Republic's Kent Somers, it inspired me to write a critique of my own. In case you have not read it, I encourage you to do so. It basically takes at least three seasons before fans can fairly judge a draft class and assign them a grade. Somers basically breaks down the entire 2009 group and assesses the work they have done so far.

In my post, I will do something similar, but I intend to assign them a grade at the end. I encourage you to leave your grade in the comments section as well and to vote in the poll. Now on to the grades...

As we all know, 2009 was the year the Cardinals were coming off of their miraculous Super Bowl run. Because of that, all of their draft selections were near the bottom of each round. In the first round, they selected RB Beanie Wells out of Ohio State. Beanie has played decently while on the field, including rushing for over 1,000 yards last season, but he has been OFF the field far too often. Injuries have hampered his career thus far and even if he is able to play through them, he will need to watch his back now that Ryan Williams is in town.

After Wells came the biggest bust selection the Cards have had in a while. Cody Brown was expected to be the dominating pass rushing force the team needed on the edge, but he never found his niche. The conversion from a defensive end to linebacker apparently proved to be too difficult. Because of that, he was cut only one year later and has not been able to latch onto an NFL team since.

The third round was more productive, but only slightly, in my eyes. Rashad Johnson was the choice, a safety out of Alabama who continues to play behind Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes on the depth chart. Johnson has shown some flashes of potential, but most of the time he is still getting beat and looks lost on the field. Look for Johnson to make a greater impact in 2012. If not, this could be his final season in Cardinal Red with so many veterans available and Justin Bethel waiting in the wings.

Greg Toler was the 131st pick overall and as Somers noted, it may be a bit early to pass judgment on him as of yet. He looked promising as a starter in 2010 and many were anxious to see how he would play as a starter yet again in 2011, but he was kept off the field after tearing his ACL in the preseason. I fully expect him to earn that starting job back (possibly right away) even though it is impossible to know how a player will perform coming off an injury of that magnitude. 2012 should provide us with a good guide to how his career will progress and play out.

After Toler, it was downhill until the seventh round. Herman Johnson was the fifth round pick, but he never got on the field due to his weight issues. He is currently out of the league. After Johnson, Will Davis was selected in the sixth round. I thought he would catch on eventually, but that never happened. Like Johnson, he is probably working 9 to 5 like the rest of us.

LaRod Stephens-Howling, the Cardinals' seventh round selection, was easily the greatest value pick, if not the greatest pick overall in this draft. He made an immediate impact on special teams both in the return game and as a tackler. LaSH will get more opportunities to run plays with the offense as a running back due to his shiftiness and awareness. Look for his role to keep increasing. Unfortunately, his seventh round teammate, Trevor Canfield, never made the team, but it's hard to always expect a late round draftee to do so.

After examining each player and look at what each has contributed, I would give the 2009 draft class for the Cardinals a C+. I think it has mostly been rather average at best, but the kicker for me is Stephens-Howling. Finding hidden gems like him late in the draft is always a big boost for any NFL team. Wells, Johnson and Toler can help improve the grade pending on how they play this season.

What are your thoughts? What grade would you assign this group?

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