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Arizona Cardinals: Best and worst draft picks


In the days leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, will allow users to determine the best and worst draft picks for every team. The series continues with the team that owns the No. 7 overall pick in this year's draft, the Arizona Cardinals.

The Arizona Cardinals, still rebuilding since 1947! To put it in perspective, that was about four names ago. While the Cardinals came close a few years ago when Kurt Warner nearly led them to the Super Bowl, this franchise has struggled.

To put it kindly.

So when I was given the chance to put together the five best and worst draft picks in Cardinals history, I laughed. I’m Mr. Pick Six. There is no way I could cap it at five. So here’s my stab at the six best and worst picks in Cardinals history.

Best picks

Pat Tillman -- 1998 (No. 226)
Tillman might have grown to legendary status for his post-Cardinals deeds, but realize the team took a pretty big risk on the former college linebacker in the seventh-round of the 1998 NFL Draft. Sure, some might have seen it as a publicity stunt to draft the local hero from Arizona State, but Tillman was a pretty solid safety for four years in the desert and even turned down millions from St. Louis to stay with the team who took a chance on him.
» 1998 NFL Draft

Darnell Dockett -- 2004 (No. 64)
Nobody questioned Dockett's on-the-field talent when he left Florida State, as he figured to be a first-round selection. But many teams were turned off by his off-the-field troubles. So the Cardinals took a chance on him in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft and have been rewarded with a three-time Pro Bowler and the anchor of the underrated Cardinals defense. Dockett has made the switch from defensive tackle to defensive end in the team's 3-4 defense.
» 2004 NFL Draft

Larry Centers -- 1990 (No. 115)
The Cardinals used a fifth-round pick in the 1990 NFL Draft for the little-known fullback out of Stephen F. Austin. Centers was one of the premier players at his position during his tenure, and was valuable for the team's passing offense. Centers set an NFL record with 101 receptions in 1999, but he slumped the following year when he caught just 99 (he wrote facetiously). Centers was selected to three Pro Bowls and finished his career with 827 career receptions. That's good for 20th. Of all-time. At any position. To put it in perspective, Centers has more all-time receptions than Steve Largent.
» 1990 NFL Draft

Aeneas Williams -- 1991 (No. 59)
The Cardinals selected Williams from Southern University (alma mater of Mel Blount) in the third-round of the 1991 NFL Draft. Williams went on to play 10 years for the Cardinals and was selected to six Pro Bowls. Williams is second all time in club history with 46 interceptions and he scored eight touchdowns. Williams has been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
» 1991 NFL Draft

Larry Wilson -- 1960 (No. 56)
Wilson was a standout at the University of Utah, but he lasted all the way until the seventh round when he was selected by the newly relocated St. Louis Cardinals in 1960. Wilson was originally a cornerback, but was converted to safety and he went on to be selected to eight Pro Bowls. Wilson also selected to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team, the 1960s All-Decade Team and the 1970s All-Decade Team. His No. 8 has been retired by the Cardinals and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
» 1960 NFL Draft

Larry Fitzgerald -- 2004 (No. 3)
The 2004 NFL Draft will be known as the quarterback draft with Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger being regarded as the biggest prizes. But the Cardinals smartly selected Fitzgerald with the third-overall pick in the draft, and he's emerged as arguably the best at his position since Jerry Rice. Of course, if the Cardinals could ever land a real quarterback, Fitzgerald would probably have an even bigger legacy.
» 2004 NFL Draft | Larry Fitzgerald photographs the world

Worst picks

Clyde Duncan -- 1984 (No. 17)
The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Duncan out of Tennessee with the 17th overall selection in the 1984 NFL Draft. He appeared in eight games for the Cardinals during his rookie season without a reception. But he had a "breakout" during his second season with much increased production -- he had four receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown in 11 games. Duncan was out of the league by 1986. When you think of all of the receiver busts the Cardinals have drafted over the years (such as Bryant Johnson, who was drafted a round ahead of Anquan Boldin in the 2003 NFL Draft), it's quite an accomplishment to be considered the worst.
» 1984 NFL Draft

Kelly Stouffer -- 1987 (No. 6)
Tony Sacca might draw some sentimental favoritism for those who remembered that era, but no quarterback bust (Matt Leinart included) could top Stouffer. The Cardinals used a sixth-overall selection on Stouffer in the 1987 NFL Draft and he refused to play his rookie year because of a contract dispute. The Cardinals eventually traded his rights away to the Seattle Seahawks.
» 1987 NFL Draft

Wendell Bryant -- 2002 (No. 12)
The Cardinals selected Bryant with the 12th overall selection in the 2002 NFL Draft. Bryant, however, battled drug and alcohol problems during his career and was eventually suspended for the entire 2005 NFL season for his third violation. The defensive tackle registered just 1.5 sacks in 29 games for the Cardinals. Bryant tried to revive his career a number of years later, but was never able to live up to his talent.
» 2002 NFL Draft

Buster Davis -- 2007 (No. 69)
You would think the Cardinals would have been scared off by a guy who had "bust" in his name. Undaunted, the Birds drafted the linebacker out of Florida State in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. While not unusual for a third-round pick to not make it, Davis didn't even make the final roster cut for the Cardinals. He was released before the season started and claimed by the Detroit Lions. Davis, you might be surprised to find, is no longer playing football.
» 2007 NFL Draft

Andre Wadsworth -- 1998 (No. 3)
Wadsworth was considered by some to be the top prospect in the 1998 NFL Draft. Yes, the same draft with Peyton Manning in it. The Cardinals selected Wadsworth with the third-overall selection. And that was the high point. He held out initially and had a somewhat productive rookie year. But injuries soon mounted and Wadsworth was gone by 2001. Thankfully for Wadsworth, people only remember the player selected just before him before in the 1998 draft, Ryan Leaf.
» 1998 NFL Draft

Bryant Johnson -- 2003 (No. 17)
You don't want to get too involved with the guys the Cardinals could have had. Because that's not always fair. However, the Cardinals held the sixth-overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft and Terrell Suggs of Arizona State was just waiting to be picked by the Birds. Nobody would have flinched if the Cardinals swung and missed with Suggs. You almost had to do it. Instead, they traded out of the spot and ended up with Johnson. Your Arizona Cardinals, ladies and gentlemen.
» 2003 NFL Draft

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.

Best and worst draft picks
April 3: Chiefs | Jaguars
April 4: Raiders | Eagles
April 5: Lions | Browns
April 8: Bills | Cardinals
April 9: Jets | Titans
April 10: Chargers | Dolphins
April 11: Bucs | Panthers
April 12: Rams| Saints
April 15: Cowboys | Steelers
April 16: Bears | Giants
April 17: Bengals| Redskins
April 18: Colts | Vikings
April 19: Packers | Seahawks
April 22: Broncos| Texans
April 23: Falcons| Patriots
April 24: 49ers| Ravens


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