Going into the 2007 draft the Cardinals were coming off a 5-11 season but believe it or not there at least some promise that the team was headed in the right direction. The team won four of the last seven games and rookie QB Matt Leinart had a decent first season finishing with a 74 QB rating and throwing 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The Arizona Cardinals held the 5th pick in the draft and would have a new coaching staff running their first draft.
First Round Pick: Levi Brown OT - Penn State
Levi Brown was the second tackle selected and the Penn State product ended up playing in 13 games, starting 11 of them at right tackle. The offensive line as a whole greatly improved in 2007 going from allowing 35 sacks in 2006 to just 24, despite the second most passing attempts. Brown's first season was about what you'd expect from a rookie starter, spotty at times (allowed 3 sacks to Patrick Kerney in Week 14) but overall he showed the power and agility that made him a top 5 pick. Brown missed several games with a high ankle sprain and there was an indication that he was missed. Edge averaged 78.7 yards per game with Brown in the starting lineup but just 68.2 in games that he didn't. Brown will have to become a more consistent player and I'm sure at some point he'll be moved over to left tackle but for now he seems to be on track to becoming a productive player.
Other possible picks: LaRon Landry, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis
Second Round Pick: Alan Branch DT - Michigan
The second round saw the Cardinals trade their second and fourth round selection in order to move up five spots so that they could select former Wolverine, Alan Branch. Branch was considered by some to be a mid-to-late first round selection and given the Cardinals desire to move to a 3-4 defense, it's not hard to understand what they saw in the 6'6 330 pound defensive tackle. Branch ended up playing in the final 11 games totaling 9 tackles as part of the defensive line rotation. Branch should see an increase in playing time in 2008, with a permanent switch to the 3-4 and in time he should push Gabe Watson for the starting nose tackle spot.
Other possible picks: Paul Posluszny, Chris Houston, LaMarr Woodley
Third Round Pick: Buster Davis MLB - Florida State
Buster Davis was supposed to be a athletic middle linebacker who had great instincts, a non-stop motor and an unquestionable leader on the field. His biggest knock of course was a lack of size (5'9 240) which would prevent him from shedding blocks or being able to see in the backfield. He went through a rough camp and saw his playing time diminish in the preseason as he became less and less effective. Eventually he was cut on September 1st. The story didn't end there though because after not a single team picked him up through waivers, Davis refused to go to the practice squad. After he refused, GM Rod Graves questioned his attitude and commitment to the game. He'd end up on the Lion's practice squad for most of the season although he appeared in one game without registering a tackle.
Other possible picks: Jacoby Jones, Yamon Figurs, Matt Spaeth
Fourth Round Pick: Traded to Oakland
As stated before the Cardinals traded their second round pick and this pick to the Raiders in order to move up to select Alan Branch.
Possible picks without the trade: Antonio Pittman, Paul Soliai
Fifth Round Pick: Steve Breaston WR - Michigan
Breaston was billed as a marginal reciever who had upside as a returner and he didn't disappoint in his rookie season. Breaston would win the kick and punt return job during the preseason and never relinquished the job. He'd end up with nearly 1,800 return yards and would average 22.4 yards on kickoff returns and 9.4 yards on punt returns. The best part though is that he didn't have a single fumble. Breaston's reportedly work very hard in the off season on his route running and added some muscle to his slender frame. For now though, as long as he continues to be an above average returner, the Cardinals got great value out of a fifth round pick.
Other possible picks: Kolby Smith, Tarell Brown
Sixth Round Pick: Traded to New England
The Cardinals traded for an offensive tackle Brandon Gorin in August of 2006. In exchange the Patriots got a conditional pick which ended up being this selection. Gorin would be on the Cardinals roster for basically one year before being cut in August of 2007.
Possible picks without the trade: Kasey Studdard, Trey Lewis
Seventh Round Pick: Ben Patrick TE - Delaware
The former Fighting Blue Hen had been described as guy who did many things well without doing any one thing great. He was considered a solid athlete who had the quickness to get into his routes and the size (6'7 270) to be a good blocker but he lacked the top end speed to separate from defenders. In his rookie year, Patrick ended up starting three of the final six games after Pope went down with an ankle inury and was able to haul in 7 passes for 73 yards and 2 touchdowns on the season. He'll need to improve his blocking and get more consistent to overtake Pope, but for now he played well enough to guarantee that he'll be on the field more in 2008.
Other possible picks: Trumaine McBride, CJ Wilson
Overall there's two different ways to look at this draft. On one hand, the players that did make the team, all contributed and each seem to have a solid future with the team. Each player could conceivably become, or already is, a starter. On the other hand, they had a third round pick that didn't even make the roster and traded another pick away on a guy who never stepped on the field for them. They also traded another pick away to move up five spots and only time will tell if Branch ends up becoming a player worthing of costing the team another pick. I'm somewhere between an optimist and a realist so even though I can see the potential for this draft producing a Pro Bowl LT, a solid starting NT, a really good returner, and a future starter at TE, I can also see the missed opportunities from two wasted picks. In the end it's grade can't be higher than a B minus.