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The Cardinals’ historic 2004 draft class

Posted by Darren Urban on April 7, 2017 – 3:44 pm

With my retrospective about Larry Fitzgerald’s memorable 2008 playoff run due to post Monday at azcardinals.com, it’s fitting to have Fitz and his Cardinals’ draft class come up in an ESPN article about each team’s best draft classes ever. It goes back to the first common draft of 1967. The ranking is based on a tool created by profootballreference.com called “approximate value,” which is based on games, starts, awards and some meaningful individual stats. Winning games factors in. Obviously, the longer a player stays with the team that drafted him matters, and so would volume.

That’s why it would matter that the draft shrunk to seven rounds in 1994. It was 17 rounds in 1967, and 12 from 1977-1993. More chances to find players in a class. The Cardinals’ draft class of 2004 made at No. 18. That’s no surprise. It was a fabulous class, with Fitzgerald in the first round, Karlos Dansby in the second round and Darnell Dockett in the third round. Defensive end Antonio Smith, who started for the 2008 Super Bowl team, was a fifth-round pick.

(The other three picks from that class — fourth-round center Alex Stepanovich, sixth-round guard/center Nick Leckey, seventh-round quarterback John Navarre.)

Only one team — the Ravens, with their 1996 class of Hall of Famers Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis — has their draft class ranked higher than the Cardinals when their class in the seven-round era. The extra rounds (and no unrestricted free agency before 1992) helped many other teams have their best drafts long ago.

Fitz is still going strong, and Dansby has returned for a third tour with the team (and will build that draft class value again). Dockett is retired, but Smith hasn’t shut it down yet, playing for the Texans last season.


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19 Responses to “The Cardinals’ historic 2004 draft class”

  1. By Cardinale on Apr 7, 2017 | Reply

    awesome photo!!!

  2. By chris on Apr 8, 2017 | Reply

    Dockett gave so much crap to Dansby for being a sellout and taking the green to go play for the browns only to do the same thing for MUCH less money for the F@&$ing 49ers and get himself cut in the process. I LOVED to watch Dockett play for us, but he was a jerk at times. Now Los is back and Dock is the only one of the fantastic four watching games on his TV at home like the rest of us. That must really sting. Karma is b****. Still that was an awesome draft class! God rest in peace Coach Green!

  3. By Scott H on Apr 8, 2017 | Reply

    Fitz, Dockett, and Dansby need no commentary here. Great players, all. Smith tends to be a bit less recognized but he was a HECK of a player. I was very sorry to see him go but it reached that point where there was a lot of talent here and ya just can’t keep everybody.

    Darren – has Smith been with the Texans all this time? Didn’t he go there from the Cardinals?

    And, holy cow, HOW was the draft 17 rounds long at one point??? My God, could you imagine that today?? That many rounds would take 8 or 9 days!! Crazy….

  4. By Darren Urban on Apr 8, 2017 | Reply

    Scott —

    RE: Smith

    He went to the Texans, played well for a number of years, then spent time with the Raiders before going back to Houston.

  5. By Ric Italia on Apr 8, 2017 | Reply

    This is the year that Steve K has to hit on all his draft picks.

  6. By luisroc on Apr 8, 2017 | Reply

    This year bringing dansby back made next season alot more interesting. Bringing back Boldin would definitely better our chances because the guy can still catch and hold on to the ball. Great red zone threat. How motivated would fitz be if boldin were back! I hope he comes back, he is a big part of the reason why we made the super bowl the last time.

  7. By Scott H on Apr 9, 2017 | Reply

    Darren –

    Thanks. I thought Smith must have been somewhere else along the way.

    I think the post above is a bit harsh toward Dockett. First, let’s be honest, Dansby ALWAYS went where the money was better. And HE himself was crystal clear about his priorities, especially the first time he departed after 2009. So, why is Dockett wrong for saying something about it?

    Hey, I don’t fault Dansby for doing what was best for himself. He has every right to do that. Any pro athelete does. They have short careers, limited chances to get the best deals they can, it is seldom about loyalty to a team for them. Got it.

    Yeah, maybe Dockett knows that, too. But maybe Dockett DID have more of a sense of loyalty to he Cardinals and maybe he DID want to achieve something special here, so maybe it DID bother him a bit that a guy who would have made this team better chose to split for more money on a team that wasn’t going anywhere. Maybe they just had different priorities. Dockett was always one to speak his mind, so he did.

    But regardless, Double D was a straight up warrior for this team. I don’t think he ever wanted to leave here. But after that knee injury, I think the Cardinals knew he was done. Maybe Dockett didn’t want to be done, so he went elsewhere to try to continue playing. THAT was a little different than leaving to get more money somewhere else.

    It didn’t work out, so I guess the Cardinals were right.

    But why is it a knock on Dockett that he is the only one of these players to be sitting home watching games on his TV? Hey, they were drafted 13-14 years ago! Many players drafted that long ago are done playing, too. Let’s show some respect and realize that Dockett gave gave everything his body had to give to the Arizona Cardinals for a long time. He might have been able to get more money somewhere else, too, along the way. But he never did.

  8. By Joe Cardea on Apr 9, 2017 | Reply

    Well said about Dockett

  9. By shannon robinson on Apr 9, 2017 | Reply

    My memory is Antonio playing on our practice squad for a year and being designated to the Europe League. Yes he was a great defensive end and had to work his way into the NFL, a lot like his QB, Mr. Warner.

  10. By Jacob Hewitt on Apr 9, 2017 | Reply

    Darren
    Is there a exact release date on the 2017 season schedule

  11. By Darren Urban on Apr 9, 2017 | Reply

    Jacob —

    RE: Schedule

    No, not at this point.

  12. By Coach K on Apr 9, 2017 | Reply

    This is how I see the draft shaping up based on who will be on the board
    with each pick. Picks are based on needed depth behind current starter.

    1. Pat Mahomes, QB
    2. Jarrad Davis, ILB
    3. Jordan Leggett, TE
    4. Howard Wilson, CB
    5. Lorenzo Jerome, S
    5. Detrich Wise, DE

  13. By Scott H on Apr 10, 2017 | Reply

    Darren –

    Just wanted to say, great work on the piece you did on Fitz. I haven’t taken in the whole thing yet, but great work. I can only hope that if Fitz’ career has the ending we’d ALL love to see, you will perhaps give this story a proper ending!

    To be continued. One can only hope.

  14. By Darren Urban on Apr 10, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Fitz

    Thank you. I appreciate that.

  15. By Scott H on Apr 10, 2017 | Reply

    OK, so I see that Tracy Porter was released by the Bears….anyone? Anyone? Not that I’d be REAL excited about him at this point, but….hey, if nothing else, he fits the age group requirement for our in-coming free agent class.

    Clearly, it seems CB is going to be a position addressed in the draft. But I still feel like there is going to be a veteran CB acquisition somewhere along the way. And at THIS point, if that’s gonna happen, Tracy Porter is exactly the type of player you could expect to be available. So….

    Couldn’t hurt…..we could do worse. Or, we could do nothing – which would be worse.

  16. By Brett Colorado on Apr 10, 2017 | Reply

    Hey Darren, I am going to jump on Scotts bandwagon, and also say awesome job on the Fitz piece!! Thank you for doing that. Also that strip fumble still hurts to watch to this day.

  17. By Scott H on Apr 11, 2017 | Reply

    Darren –

    Every time I see this picture, from whatever angle, I always think of how just it was that Fitz out-ran James Harrison to the end zone for that glorious TD. Because we all remember how, on the INT that Harrison took the other way right before halftime, it was Fitz making that desperate attempt to catch him but came up just short. I never realized until much later that Fitz got detoured to the Cardinals sidelines but kept going, doing everything he could to overcome the many obstacles he encountered, trying to catch up to Harrison. A more valiant effort, I cannot remember.

    Regardless of the outcome of the game, it was nice to see Fitz get even on Harrison later in the game.

  18. By Scott H on Apr 11, 2017 | Reply

    Dang it….obviously, the picture I am referring to in my previous post is the picture from the OTHER blog, the one of Fitz getting ready to hit the jets and leave Harrison behind.

    Having one of those days….can’t get anything right.

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