I will admit that I was inspired by the FanPost on Friday that graded the 2007 draft class for the Arizona Cardinals. Sadly, Ken Whisenhunt's first draft class was not very successful at all. We got a frustrating Levi Brown and Alan Branch and an overachieving Steve Breaston. After that, it was a bunch of nothing.
The 2008 class fared a bit better, as Whisenhunt bounced back to find some talent in his second year of drafting for the Cardinals. Let's look at how that group of players has panned out.
Round 1, Pick 16: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
DRC has been a very good draft choice. He has shown he can be as good a cover corner as there is in the game. He has made timely interceptions and has played well. He also has not been the hardest worker, which causes him to inexplicably start off every single season slowly. He also avoids tackling as if it were a disease and then, last season, the one time I have ever seen him square his shoulder pads to hit someone, he gets injured. His potential is through the roof, but he has yet to tap into that potential fully.
Round 2, Pick 50: Calais Campbell
CC had a breakout year in 2009, logging seven sacks and had another five or six that just got away from him. Coming into 2010, he was poised to become one of the better players at his position. He disappointed. Mind you, he was not bad, but he did not have the impact that was hoped. He logged six sacks, but was not the disruptive force he was in 2009. He has also been a solid contributor on special teams.
Round 3, Pick 81: Early Doucet
The story of Doucet's career has been getting hurt. He can't seem to stay on the field. When healthy, he has shown flashes that he could be similar to Anquan Boldin. Who can forget his six catches and two touchdowns in the epic playoff victory over the Green Bay Packers. He has yet to play in more than 10 games, and 2010 was rough because he was seen as the reason why Boldin was somewhat expendable. He only had 26 receptions in 10 games.
Grade: Incomplete (due to absences)
Round 4, Pick 116: Kenny Iwebema
As a fourth round selection, Iwebema has not been spectacular, but he is an outstanding special teams player -- the type that does not have statistics to show off. His injury in 2010 was a blow to the defensive line depth and to special teams. Being drafted as late as he was, it is exactly the type of player you expect to get -- a depth guy who helps the team.
Round 5, Pick 149: Tim Hightower
The fifth round has been fruitful for the Cardinals over the years. 2008 was no exception. He is not flashy, but he has just enough speed, blocks just well enough, is strong enough and catches well enough to have been able to overtake Edgerrin James as the starter in 2008 by the end of the year and keep the promising Beanie Wells behind him on the depth chart. Yes, he has a habit of fumbling at inopportune times, but he is a solid running back and was far more than you can expect from a fifth-rounder.
Round 6, Pick 185: Chris Harrington
I know what you are thinking. Who is he? That's right. He is the guy the Cardinals missed on. He didn't even make the team coming out of training camp. He was signed to the practice squad and later signed from the practice squad by the Bengals later in the season.
Round 7, Pick 225: Brandon Keith
What can you expect from a seventh-rounder? Usually he's lucky to stay in the NFL, bouncing from team to team. He was a headache for Cardinals fans in 2010. After two years of grooming, he entered 2010 as the starting RT and played nine games before getting hurt. He was not great and some say he was not even good, but he was good enough to be a starter. Ron Wolfley has gushed about him since his rookie year. Expect to see him play some more in 2011.
Grading the overall draft class
Out of seven players in this draft, the Cardinals have gotten four starters, one very important special teams player, a player who could be a starter or a very good contributor if he could stay healthy and one dud. It is a very good draft. If Doucet can have a breakout year, it could change to an A. But considering his inability to show what he can do, combined with DRC's incomplete development as an elite corner, their final grade is a B+.