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Round-By-Round, The Cardinals' Top Picks

Since moving to Arizona, here's a look at the best the team has chosen one through seven

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The Cardinals picked wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald with the third overall pick in the 2004 draft.


The Cardinals will hold the 24th pick in Thursday's draft, the 28th time the franchise has drafted since the team moved to Arizona. In total, there have been 243 players selected. Not all have panned out, and some picks have been better than others of the players that have done well.

Instead of choosing the best picks regardless – we did that last year – here's a look at the Cardinals' best pick in each of the seven rounds since the franchise moved in 1988:

FIRST ROUND: WR Larry Fitzgerald (2004)

The first round has produced multiple possibilities, which makes sense – it is the first round, after all. And Fitzgerald is still churning, going into his 12th season in 2015. He's not putting up the giant numbers anymore, which is at least in part because of a change in roles, but he was on pace for 1,000 yards last season before his and Carson Palmer's injuries. Given that he is by far the most famous Arizona Cardinal, this choice wasn't hard.

Others considered: LB Ken Harvey (1988), LB Eric Hill (1989), DT Eric Swann (1991), LB Jamir Miller (1994), DE Simeon Rice (1996), DB Antrel Rolle (2005), CB Patrick Peterson (2011)

SECOND ROUND: WR Anquan Boldin (2003)

The divorce wasn't pretty, especially since it lasted almost two years, but Boldin was everything the Cardinals could have hoped for during his career as a Card. He was tough, he was part of the group that changed the culture in the building and he made plays. That he is still plugging along, now on his third team in San Francisco, says something about him as well. His career stats, while playing a year longer than Fitzgerald, actually are strikingly similar to his former teammate.

Others considered: WR Frank Sanders (1995), QB Jake Plummer (1997), LB Karlos Dansby (2004), DE Calais Campbell (2008)

THIRD ROUND: CB Aeneas Williams (1991)

One thing is clear – the Cardinals have been able to find some high-level defensive backs in the third round. But it's hard to argue with Williams as the best choice, since the man was just voted into the Hall of Fame. Williams had 46 interceptions in a decade of playing for the Cardinals. He was excellence in the secondary.

Others considered: WR Ricky Proehl (1990), S Adrian Wilson (2001), DT Darnell Dockett (2004), S Tyrann Mathieu (2013)

FOURTH ROUND: DE Michael Bankston (1992)

A round noticeable by the lack of candidates. Bankston had a solid turn in Arizona and was a starter most of his six seasons as a Cardinal. He had 16½ sacks along the way. He wasn't dominant, and already, 2013 fourth-round pick Alex Okafor has a chance to get to the top of this list if he can produce for a couple of years like he did in 2014.

Others considered: RB Ronald Moore (1993), RB Michael Pittman (1998)

Images of the best players chosen by the Cardinals since their move to Arizona in 1988

FIFTH ROUND: FB Larry Centers (1990)

Centers was never a big threat as a runner, totaling only 1,736 yards rushing in nine Cardinals seasons. But the man was a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, including his 101-receptions, 962-yard season in 1995. He had 535 catches in Arizona, and his salary-cap-related departure following the memorable 1998 playoff season still rankles some fans.

Others considered: DE Antonio Smith (2004), WR Steve Breaston (2007), RB Tim Hightower (2008)

SIXTH ROUND: ST Justin Bethel (2012)

Bethel is hoping to eventually become a starting cornerback, and the Cardinals wouldn't mind that themselves. Still, Bethel has been so good on special teams, he already has made his impact on the franchise. That's what two Pro Bowl berths will get you. Athletically, Bethel has all the tools to create some separation from other picks in this spot.

Others considered: G Reggie Wells (2003), RB Andre Ellington (2013)

SEVENTH ROUND: S Pat Tillman (1998)

Tillman was a fan favorite just by playing for the team up the road from where he went to college, and by displaying the passion on and off the field he always carried with him. He became a hero when he walked away from the NFL to join the military and serve our country. He became a legend when he was killed in action doing that job. Larry Fitzgerald may be the most recognizable Arizona Cardinal, but Pat Tillman is in the discussion.

Others considered: RB Johnny Johnson (1990), CB Renaldo Hill (2001), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (2009)



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