Where do the Arizona Cardinals rank in the quality of their drafts?

Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Have the Cards truly failed at developing their team?

Recently Khodder posted an article on the Cardinals drafting under former GM Rod Graves. As a fan, it is tough reading that Cardinals have drafted poorly in terms of building a winning franchise. Khodder states that he believes the Cardinals have been doing a poor job drafting. I disagreed and wanted comparisons. I asked Khodder to compare our drafts to other teams for perspective because while the Cardinals failed to draft the essential building blocks (as detailed by Khodder in his article) I believed the team at least drafted good talent overall. In response, Kodder compared the Cardinals drafts to the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, which put into perspective that the Cardinals may not have been as good a drafting team as I once thought.

I needed more perspective, though, and so I wanted to build a comprehensive draft ranking over the last ten years to give me empirical data to measure the Cardinals against. I knew right away this would be a daunting task, that is, until I used Google. I found that I wasn't the only person who wanted to know how teams have been drafting the last ten years. However, I also found that only two websites had even slightly credible draft rankings. I only used two rankings because many rankings were based on opinion. While I respect authors like Bill Polian, the Colts former GM, I do not want to use rankings that did not use some mathematical reasoning to back the opinions made.

The two rankings systems I used are based on different metrics which I found to be well thought out. The first one used is by DRAFTMETRICS which uses a tiered system to rank a team's drafts over the last ten years (2002-2012). They use total number of starts by the players drafted, number of active players in 2012, average share of annual starts and number of Pro Bowl players. The system ranks players from 2002 higher than 2012. A Pro Bowl player from 2007 will have a greater impact on the teams overall score than a Pro Bowl player from 2010. Please visit the website linked below to get the full explanation of their ranking strategy.

The second draft ranking system used is based on information from Pro Football Reference and their playing rankings. The system also takes into account team' Pro Bowlers and draftees active in 2010. The player rankings are a big part of the system and are given more weight than the other categories, which is what really differentiates this system from DRAFTMETRICS. There ranking system highlights the quality of players drafted and their effect in the game, not just if they started which in my mind is a better gauge of a team's ability to draft.

Here are the individual articles for DRAFTMETRICS and Pro Football Reference for your reference. There is no perfect system and so these rankings are to be taken with a grain of salt like anything else. There are so many factor that neither of these systems take into account (injuries, trades, etc), however they do give fans a better perspective of how their respective team has drafted over the past decade.

Without further ado:

Team

DRAFTMETRICS

Pro Football Reference

Cumulative Ranking

New England Patriots

5

1

1

Baltimore Ravens

7

2

2

Carolina Panthers

4

8

3

Atlanta Falcons

10

5

4

New York Giants

11

4

5

San Diego Chargers

12

3

6

Dallas Cowboys

6

10

7

Arizona Cardinals

1

16

8

Indianapolis Colts

13

6

9

San Francisco 49ers

2

17

10

Green Bay Packers

9

11

11

Tennessee Titans

8

12

12

Philadelphia Eagles

18

7

13

Chicago Bears

16

13

14

Cleveland Browns

3

28

15

Seattle Seahawks

14

18

16

Jacksonville Jaguars

20

14

17

Pittsburgh Steelers

29

9

18

New York Jets

24

15

19

Houston Texans

17

23

20

Buffalo Bills

21

19

21

Kansas City Chiefs

15

26

22

Cincinnati Bengals

22

21

23

Miami Dolphins

19

27

24

Minnesota Vikings

25

22

25

New Orleans Saints

28

20

26

Denver Broncos

26

25

27

St. Louis Rams

27

24

28

Oakland Raiders

23

29

29

Detroit Lions

31

30

30

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

30

31

31

Washington Redskins

32

32

32


The results in several rankings surprised me. First is that the Cardinals were ranked number one by DRAFTMETICS with most starts over the last decade. This can be taken several ways, the team drafted well or that the team has been so talent deprived that drafted players played a lot of snaps. Honestly, who knows? It is likely that 2004 plays a large part of this ranking, as Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby and Antonio Smith were all drafted in 2004 and have all played significant snaps, been selected to Pro Bowls and thus boosted the team's score greatly. Overall, the Cardinals came out as the eighth best drafting team in the NFL. The 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons showed the Cardinals had a talented roster, but, like Khodder pointed out in his article, many of the players drafted were great skill players and not the type of building blocks a franchise needs to win the big game.

Comparing what Khodder wrote to this it both disagrees and agrees with his statement. First, the Cardinals overall have drafted well from rounds one through seven, but the main talent drafted (picks 1-3) haven't been what the team needs to get to the top. Maybe the Cardinals drafted well because the team took WRs when everyone else was taking QBs and OL; that is something we can only speculate on. With a legitimate QB at the helm for the first time since Kurt Warner, it is possible the Cardinals could really shock the league with a more talented roster than given credit for, or it could blow up in our faces as the team has relied too heavily on skill positions and the years of negligence to the core positions will be the teams Achilles heel.

2013 will be a big year and it will be fun to update these rankings in a few years to see how current GM Steve Keim has drafted and if he will be able to build the Cardinals into a championship caliber team.

Let me know your thoughts, especially if you can poke holes in this or have suggestions on how it can be improved. Maybe we can all do some homework and research a team to create the most impressive draft ranking guide ever made and become a beacon of awesomeness that all of SBNation will be envious of. I'm a dreamer, am I the only one?

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