When you look at the longevity of good teams they have a couple of factors.
First, they have consistent leadership who has a plan and is able to bring in players that buy into that plan.
Second, they typically have an alpha, usually the quarterback who helps put the vision of the head coach and GM into practice.
Finally, they draft well.
The Arizona Cardinals had the first two when it came to the tandem of Steve Keim and Bruce Arians. A clear vision of trying to win in a small window, which allowed them to compete at a high level for three seasons and be a fringe playoff team for two seasons.
The problem is, even though five seasons is a lifetime in the NFL it does not lend itself to sustained success, especially if the last part never comes to fruition.
Football Outsiders did a 10 year study on drafting efficiency and effectiveness of all NFL teams and you’d be shocked to find that the Cardinals are one of the worst drafting franchises in the NFL.
First, when it comes to draft capital the Cardinals are basically upper middle of the pack. They finished 13th in total draft capital from 2010-2019. Steve Keim likes his draft picks and it shows as he rarely trades them away.
So, with the fact that the Cardinals are basically average in available capital, the results are even more stinging.
Their return on draft capital over the 10-year spans is the fourth worst in the NFL, only ahead of the Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Chargers and the worst team, the New York Giants.
You may be saying, okay but what about the Steve Keim era? Glad you asked, their five year return is... the fourth worst in the NFL; behind the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles and those same old Jets.
What hurts the Cardinals the Cardinals the most is their returns from 2016-2018 was awful. They had one of the worst drafts of the decade in 2016 (sixth worst overall), but in ‘17 and ‘18 they finished with the fifth worst draft return in both classes.
Meaning the Cardinals in what should have been the section of the decade where they were rebuilding the franchise, completely blew it.
In fact, only two draft classes this decade, 2015 and 2019 finished in the top ten in return in the NFL.
Drafting has been a problem, let’s hope 2019 fixed it for years to come.