NFL supplemental draft: 25 years since Timm Rosenbach

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The pick didn't end up working out, but revising history probably doesn't change much Cardinals fortune.

On July 7, 1989, the Phoenix Cardinals used a first round pick in the NFL Supplemental Draft, something they had never done previously and have not since. They selected quarterback Timm Rosenbach out of Washington State.

The 1989 Supplemental Draft was a strange one, as Pro Football Talk documents well. Three players were taken in the first round and five overall. Previously and since, that many players have not been taken overall or in the first round of any supplemental draft.

The Cardinals selected Rosenbach, the Dallas Cowboys selected quarterback Steve Walsh and the Denver Broncos drafted running back Bobby Humphrey. Only the Cardinals didn't have things work out. Humphrey was a fantastic back and part of a Super Bowl team. The Cowboys got three draft picks out of trading Walsh.

The Cardinals? They got 20 starts before his NFL career ended with his being a shell-shocked player.

What happened:

The Cardinals knew they needed a future quarterback when Neil Lomax injured his hip and his career was ended in 1988. In the 1989 NFL Draft, they did not take a quarterback, but they didn't pass on anyone worthwhile. Troy Aikman was taken with the first pick overall and he was the only impactful player at the position.

The Cardinals selected linebacker Eric Hill and offensive lineman Joe Wolf with their two first rounders. Hill was a great player and Wolf was not great, but remained with the team for nearly a decade.

Timm Rosenbach did not intend on entering the NFL Draft in 1989. However, after his head coach at Washington State, Dennis Erickson, left to go coach Miami, Rosenbach decided to declare for the supplemental draft rather than play his final season of college eligibility with a new coach and offensive system.

Rosenbach led the nation in pass efficiency in 1988, so he was a good prospect. The Cardinals pulled the trigger.

He sat behind Gary Hogeboom and Tom Tupa in 1989, but was given a start in the season's final game against the Denver Broncos.

In 1990, he was the unquestioned starter and took every single snap. He was not terrible, completing 54 percent of his passes for almost 3100 yards, 16 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. A mobile quarterback, he also ran the ball 86 times for 470 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked 43 times.

He suffered a knee injury (a burst bursa) in training camp the next season. He missed the entire season. He would only start three more games in the NFL after injuries affected his psyche and he walked away from the game.

Revisionist history:

What would have happened had the Cardinals not selected Rosenbach? Well, with their 5-11 record that season, they would have had the fifth pick in the 1990 NFL Draft. Having selected Rosenbach in the first round of the supplemental draft, they forfeited their first rounder.

In that draft, their first pick was in the second round, when they took running back Anthony Thompson, who was one of the team's bigger draft busts.

With a first round pick, they certainly would have targeted a quarterback if possible. With the fifth pick, they probably would have taken Andre Ware, who set the college world on fire with his high powered offense.He was the Heisman Trophy winner that year. He was taken by the Lions with the seventh pick, so it would have been plausible that the Cardinals would have taken him.

Drafting Ware would not have solved the team's QB issues. In four NFL seasons with the Lions, he had an even less impressive resume than Rosenbach. In four seasons, he started a whopping six games before he was out of the league. He surely would not have made any more of an impact in Arizona than Rosenbach did.

Rosenbach ended up being one of the many failed quarterback options, but he did actually show some promise. Unfortunately, even with how it turned out, it was still the best case scenario considering how a revised history still would have led to bad seasons.

Sorry, Cardinals fans, the history of the team is depressing. Good for you for sticking around.

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