One of the harshest Michael Floyd critics in 2012 was me, and that simply was because I felt like the pick was one you make when you are close and in need of a weapon to put you over the top, not a pick you make when you have obvious holes on the offensive line and need a pass rusher to take your defense from good to great to possibly elite.
No matter what Floyd does in 2013 and beyond, his lack of impact, because of poor quarterback play that was caused by a terrible offensive line, in 2012 was one of the final nails in the Ken Whisenhunt coffin.
The 2012 draft made me go back and look at the idea of drafting for need versus best player available, and where those two roads intersected in terms for the Cardinals during the Whisenhunt era of drafts.
For that I am going to go back and look at the first three rounds of each draft for the Cardinals from 2007-2010, to see where I believe that Cardinals should have gone. Hindsight is always 20-20, but I've been talking draft since 2009, and followed it very closely since 2004, so I have a good feel for this (in my opinion).
Why only through 2010? Well that's what we can judge thus far based on what the players have accomplished.
A couple of rules:
1. No crazy stuff like the Cardinals should have traded all of their picks for Robert Griffin III in round 1, picks have to mesh between what the Cardinals needed and where the player was picked.
2. No drafting Russell Wilson in round one. He wasn't a first round pick last year, while we are playing revisionist history; I still want to hold some sort of reality to this.
Let's get started.
1- Levi Brown, OT Penn St
2- Alan Branch, DT Michigan
3- Buster Davis, LB Florida State
The 2007 draft was one of the early downfalls to the Ken Whisenhunt era.
Sure Brown has been a serviceable offensive tackle over his six seasons, and Alan Branch has become a very good player in Seattle, but getting only three starts combined out of your second and third round picks is inexcusable.
Buster Davis is the definition of a bust, and not even making it out of training camp on the roster should have been a sign of things to come in the Whisenhunt era.
Starting off with that poor of player evaluation, and reaching for a need at tackle over taking one of the highest ranked running back prospects in the last two decades in the draft was a tough start, but something that was overcome over the next two seasons.
As for Yanda, the Cardinals needed to address the offensive line position, and Yanda would have been a great fit at right tackle, remember the Cardinals still had Mike Gandy on the roster as the starting left tackle.
Should have drafted:
2- Calais Campbell
3- Jeremichael Finley, TE Texas
I could have been gutsy and said the Cardinals should have drafted Duane Brown, and you wouldn't be wrong at all, but Brown was drafted after Gosder Cherilus, Jeff Otah and Sam Baker, and I feel like that would be too much hindsight.
The problem pick here for me was Doucet.
I know that this was Breaston's breakout season, and that the staff couldn't have expected him to take that big of a step, but the tight ends on the roster at that time were Leonard Pope, Stephen Spach, Ben Patrick and Jerame Tuman... or in other words a collection of "who the hell is that?"
Unger was my top rated interior offensive linemen in 2009 draft.
I loved his versatility, and nasty streak from day one, and adding a player like that on the interior of the offensive line would have been a huge get for the Cardinals and may have prolonged Kurt Warner's career.
I don't need to speak on Cody Brown simply because there's nothing to say. Mike Wallace was the deep threat that would have replaced Steve Breaston, who would have replaced the disgruntled and soon to be traded Boldin, and given the Cardinals the continued depth at the receiving position.
Should have drafted:
2- Daryl Washington
3- Andre Roberts
You'd think having a draft you wouldn't change would mean it was a great draft, but the reality is there wasn't talent that filled need positions that would have warranted picks higher.
The ultimate problem with what I've done is outline the problem for Ken Whisenhunt in years 1-4 of his reign as coach; there was one quarterback they had a shot to draft that could have been the guy post Kurt Warner, and that was Joe Flacco.
There's no way that anyone could convince the Cardinals and Whisenhunt to give up on Matt Leinart who looked good in partial time in 2007, before being injured.
That means that the best the Cardinals could hope for was keeping Kurt Warner for another season in 2010 and then drafting a quarterback in 2011 and begging Warner for one more season, but it likely would have kept the Cardinals as the best team in the division for one more season.
Drafting is an inexact science; in fact it's one of the hardest things to do in any sport.
The great teams look ahead, and prepare for the future, while also impacting the present.
Teams like the Cardinals have, in the Whisenhunt era, scrambled to draft in order to plug holes on the roster and fill needs, instead of taking players that would be more impactful.
Let's hope the Arians/Keim era changes that, and in at least one draft, they have drafted for impact players at need positions, a great combination, at least we as fans hope.