Since 2015, the Arizona Cardinals have seen a dip in wins and have gone from favorites in the NFC to least likely team to make the playoffs in the NFC in 2018.
How did things get from an NFC Championship Game to this?
One of the biggest issues for the Arizona Cardinals the last three seasons has simply been lack of production from their first round picks.
The guys over at Windy City Gridiron, the Chicago Bears SB Nation blog, have done a great job of laying out the lack of playing time from the Cardinals first round picks over the last three seasons:
... twenty-one NFL teams have had exactly one first-round pick from 2015 to 2017 (essentially giving them parallel situations to the Chicago Bears), and the average (mean) is 75 “games appearances” across the last three seasons
On the list that Josh Sunderbruch brought together, the Arizona Cardinals tie with the Cincinnati Bengals for second fewest games by first round picks over the last three seasons, as their first round picks only appeared in 51 of 96 available regular season games.
That’s right, not started, but Arizona Cardinals first round picks have only appeared in 51 games out of 96 possible games, or 53.1%.
When you can’t get production from your first round picks it is tough to continue to play at a high level as a team.
Now, if you look at Sunderbruch’s list, you can see that playing time does not equal drafting well, as the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and New York Giants all have first round picks that played a lot, it just wasn’t necessarily well.
Yet, the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys are three of the top four teams in player appearances from first round picks over the last three seasons.
If the Cardinals don’t make a swift turnaround, it won’t be because of what happens in 2018 and 2019, but instead it will be the failures of the previous drafts that cause their issues.