Cardinals' Draft Do-Over

Brooks Reed (Getty)

Arizona's 2011 draft is now in the books and while the results weren't disastrous, a different strategy could have left the team in much better shape. Brad Wilbricht gives his take on who Arizona should have selected based on how the draft board unfolded.

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Round 1 (5th overall)

Actual pick: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
Should have picked: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU

As soon as Peterson fell to pick No. 5, this choice was a no brainer. The Cardinals only other option would have been trading down and a similar deal that the Cleveland Browns received from the Atlanta Falcons might have been a possibility. Passing on a potential impact player such as Peterson, however, would have been a risky proposition.

Round 2 (38th overall)

Actual pick: RB Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
Should have picked: OLB/DE Brooks Reed, Arizona

Reed appears to be an ideal fit at outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense and Arizona could have desperately used his pass-rushing expertise. Instead the Cardinals opted for Williams who is set to join an already crowded backfield consisting of Beanie Wells, Tim Hightower and LaRod Stephens-Howling. Williams might develop into a game breaker at running back but injury concerns and more pressing areas of need at linebacker and along the offensive line should have nixed this pick. Reed went four slots later to the Houston Texans.

Round 3 (69th overall)

Actual pick: TE Robert Housler, Florida Atlantic
Should have picked: LB Martez Wilson, Illinois

Wilson, widely considered the top inside linebacker prospect in the draft, surprisingly dropped into the third round and logical thinking would have assumed the Cardinals would call his name. Instead, another unconventional pick came in as Housler got the nod. Housler could be the vertical threat the team has been seeking at tight end, but his inability to block won't even allow him to be an every down player. Selecting him in Round 3 was a reach and Wilson would have filled an immediate need at inside linebacker. Wilson was selected three picks later by the New Orleans Saints.

Round 4 (103rd overall)

Actual pick: OLB/DE Sam Acho, Texas
Should have picked: DT Christian Ballard, Iowa

Based on what the Cardinals should have done, Acho would have been an unnecessary addition at this point. Although Arizona's defensive line is one of the team's strengths, grabbing Ballard in Round 4 would have been considered one of the steals of the draft. Instead the Minnesota Vikings cashed in three picks later. Ballard would have provided the Cardinals with another versatile threat in the trenches due to his ability to line up across the defensive line. Ballard mainly played defensive end in college but has the bulk and strength to also play on the interior.

Round 5 (136th overall)

Actual pick: FB Anthony Sherman, Connecticut
Should have picked: OT Marcus Cannon, TCU

Arizona took a chance on OLB O'Brien Schofield in the fourth round of last year's draft and stands to benefit now that he's fully healed from a torn ACL. Cannon could have done the same and was certainly worth the risk in the fifth round. Cannon is a punishing blocker who, when healthy, would have arguably been Arizona's best lineman. Instead of investing in Cannon, who will undergo treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the Cardinals went with Sherman.

Round 6 (171st overall)

Actual pick: LB Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina
Should have picked: OL Brandon Fusco, Slippery Rock

Sturdivant provides good value here, but addressing needs at linebacker earlier would have left this spot open to acquire help along the offensive line. Fusco lined up at center in college, but also demonstrates the versatility to contribute at guard. With the uncertain futures of center Lyle Sendlein along with guards Alan Faneca and Deuce Lutui, Fusco would have given the team more flexibility when free agency eventually commences. Furthermore, Arizona has done an excellent job of identifying small-school talent in recent years and Fusco could have been the next in line.

Round 6 (184th overall)

Actual pick: DT David Carter, UCLA
Should have picked: LB Greg Jones, Michigan State

Carter being selected in Round 6 is a suitable choice but the earlier addition of Ballard would have solidified the defensive line. Although Reed and Wilson have already been selected in redo scenario, the linebacking corps in Arizona was so bad in 2010 that another newcomer would have been welcomed. Jones has the versatility to play both inside and outside linebacker while providing new defensive coordinator Ray Horton with another weapon in blitzing formations. Instead, Carter was the choice and Jones was taken with the next pick by the New York Giants.

Round 7 (249th overall)

Actual pick: WR Demarco Sampson, San Diego State
Should have picked: Any available offensive lineman

It's hard to knock a pick made this late in the draft, but obtaining the rights to a player is a more important factor than previous years due to the ongoing lockout. Sampson is a long-shot to actually make the team – as many other seventh-round picks would be – but investing in a more pressing area of need, such as the offensive line, would have made more sense.

Cardinals actual draft

Round 1 (5th overall): CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
Round 2 (38th overall): RB Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
Round 3 (69th overall): TE Robert Housler, Florida Atlantic
Round 4 (103rd overall): OLB/DE Sam Acho, Texas
Round 5 (136th overall): FB Anthony Sherman, Connecticut
Round 6 (171st overall): LB Quan Sturdivant , North Carolina
Round 6 (184th overall): DT David Carter, UCLA
Round 7 (249th overall): WR Demarco Sampson, San Diego State

Cardinals should have picked

Round 1 (5th overall): CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
Round 2 (38th overall): OLB/DE Brooks Reed, Arizona
Round 3 (69th overall): LB Martez Wilson, Illinois
Round 4 (103rd overall): DT Christian Ballard, Iowa
Round 5 (136th overall): OT Marcus Cannon, TCU
Round 6 (171st overall): OL Brandon Fusco, Slippery Rock
Round 6 (184th overall): LB Greg Jones, Michigan St.
Round 7 (249th overall): Any available offensive lineman

Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at

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