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Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Draft rewind: Cardinals' five-year recap

By Mike Sando

A look at the NFC West's best and worst from the past five NFL drafts, one team at a time.

Arizona Cardinals

Best choice: Calais Campbell, DE, 2008 second round. Campbell and inside linebacker Daryl Washington were the top candidates in this spot. Both were second-round picks who signed contract extensions in the past year. Campbell's deal averages $12 million per year over the first three years.  The three-year average for Washington's deal is $9.2 million. Teams value defensive linemen over inside linebackers as a general rule. That is one reason I selected Campbell over Washington for our purposes here. Arizona credited Campbell with 11 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 14 quarterback hits and seven passes defensed despite missing three games to injury in 2012. Some might point to Patrick Peterson as a candidate for consideration. Expectations for a player drafted fifth overall set the bar high.

Worst choice: Cody Brown, OLB, 2009 second round. Brown suffered a wrist injury during his rookie camp, went on injured reserve and never played a down for the team. Brown bounced from the Cardinals to the New York Jets to the Detroit Lions without ever playing in a regular-season game. None of the other 36 players Arizona has drafted since 2008 challenged Brown for consideration in this spot. Ryan Williams, a second-rounder in 2011, could qualify if injuries continue to keep him off the field. Williams has already played in games and shown promise when healthy, however. Brown did not do those things.

Verdict pending: Williams, RB, 2011 second round. This assumes the verdict is already in for 2009 first-round choice Beanie Wells, whose future with the team appears tenuous. Williams suffered knee and shoulder injuries during his first two seasons with the team. He has missed 27 of 32 games and averaged 2.8 yards per carry on 58 career attempts. The Cardinals still have high hopes for Williams. There's still a chance Williams will become a key contributor, particularly as the Cardinals upgrade their offensive line. He must stay healthy, however.