The NFL draft process is the result of months and months of film, interviews, filling out scouting reports, navigating the trades and fake interest, all for the point of hearing the names called out from behind the podium of the newest members of the Arizona Cardinals.
Some rise to the occasion from a lowly draft status, some fall short of the lofty expectations. But ultimately, what captivates fans is the thrill of the pick and the endless possibilities.
5. Ernie Jones, WR, Indiana
Going all the way back to when they were the Phoenix Cardinals having just moved to the desert in 1988, Ernie Jones was a very productive wide receiver for the Cardinals, catching 210 passes for 3,574 yards and 18 touchdowns in five years. Jones' last season with the Cardinals, however, wasn't one to be remembered, as he was arrested for drug possession and released by the team.
It was for these concerns that Jones fell to the seventh round, however, as productive as he was, Jones is an excellent example of the risk-reward factor that can be there for red-flag prospects should a team take a chance on him. His numbers, after all, still rank in the top 20 for Cardinals All-Time wide receivers.
4. Ben Patrick, TE, Delaware
Call it what you will, though no longer in the league, Ben Patrick will always be remembered for his amazing Touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLIII, giving the Cardinals their first ever Super Bowl score.
Patrick finished his Cardinals career with 45 receptions for 446 yards and 4 TD's, but it's the one versus the Steelers we remember the most.
3. LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB, Pitt
Better known by his moniker "The Hyphen", LaRod Stephens-Howling was never a full-time back for the Cardinals, and even spent the majority of his career as a backup during the difficult years of 2010-2012 following Kurt Warner's retirement. So why does he get mentioned here?
In part, because of what the likeable Stephens-Howling overcame to play in the NFL. His 5'7, 185 lb frame was bashed by every draft expert as being too small, making the Hyphen a bit of a David and Goliath story whenever he stepped onto the field.
What else did he do?
He won a couple a house in a promotion on this kickoff return. Not even David Johnson's franchise-setting 108-yard kickoff return this past year was able to accomplish that. Stephens-Howling finished his Arizona career with 189 rushes for 671 yards and 5 touchdowns, as well as 58 receptions for 545 yards, 3 TD's and over 4,000 yards as a kick returner. His versatility as a role player and late-round value makes him #3 on our list.
2. Johnny Johnson, RB, San Jose State
Johnny Johnson was with the Cardinals for only four years but had quite the impact. After falling to the seventh round due to a negative reputation from practices and missing meetings, he showed to be an impact player as a rookie, rushing for 962 yards and went to the Pro Bowl as a Cardinal.
However, Johnson's tenure in Arizona was cut short when the team included him in a package for the 3rd overall pick in the 1993 draft to move up for another running back, Garrison Hearst. While the idea of turning a 7th round pick into getting a first seems like a win-win, Hearst's time in the desert was only half the length of Johnson's, and he played his best years in the desert as a member of the now-division-rival 49ers.
Johnson's time was cut too soon as a Cardinal, but he still finished with 608 touches for 2,326 yards and 15 touchdowns over four years.
1. Pat Tillman, S, Arizona State
Was there any doubt over who the #1 player would be on this list? A fan favorite as a local Sun Devil, Pat Tillman's on-field play and tenacity was only matched by his post-playing legend. The man gave up a profitable career in the NFL to do what he believed in his heart was right, was his calling.
And like so many of the brave and noble men who went before him, he paid the ultimate price while defending his country's freedom. Tillman's legacy lives on through the entire Cardinals' organization, and there is arguably no Arizona Cardinal more deserving of the statue that he has outside of the stadium.
Tillman wasn't just a good 7th-round selection.
He was one of the best choices the Cardinals ever made.
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Be sure to check out the rest of our series and NFL Draft content as we approach the 2016 NFL Draft!