Number ones from “Day One”

Posted by Darren Urban on July 3, 2012 – 10:08 am

It was a simple response to a Twitter comment yesterday, and somewhat open-ended at that, although it ended up generating a couple hours of Twitdebate. I wouldn’t say I expected wide receiver Michael Floyd to start “from Day One.” I’ve already covered that, actually. But it goes to a larger component — nothing surprising — with coach Ken Whisenhunt and his staff. Bottom line, he prefers to ease his top picks into the lineup, and earn their way.

Let’s look at the Cardinals’ No. 1 picks through the Whisenhunt era, and when they started for the first time:

— 2007: T Levi Brown. Started at right tackle Week 1. Brown was the fifth overall pick. The Cardinals had no holdover at right tackle that made sense to plug in for Whisenhunt’s first year. Heck, Mike Gandy was signed as a free agent just to play left tackle. When Brown hurt his ankle in the third game of the season, Elton Brown — a natural guard — was forced to start for a few weeks. You want to plug-and-play a top five offensive lineman, but Levi’s ascension was as much about need as anything else. (UPDATE: And as “footballguru80” pointed out in the comments — which I had forgotten — Oliver Ross was running at RT before going down with a season-ending triceps injury in the preseason. Ross likely would have started the opener, I’m thinking, given history.)

— 2008: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: Started at right cornerback Week 9. DRC was coming from Tennessee State and his learning curve was steeper than some. His natural talents were undeniable. But Eric Green started instead. DRC came in midseason (Green fell so quickly he was inactive every postseason game) and did a very good job. But he wasn’t ready at the outset and definitely was a player who needed to earn his time.

— 2009: RB Beanie Wells: Started at running back Week 7, 2010.Wells actually had just one start his first two seasons, playing behind Tim Hightower (and I’m not so sure Wells would have gotten that start had Hightower not had his fumbling issues, leading the coaching staff to try and make a point to Hightower.) Wells was obviously “The Man” last year but he continues to be challenged to work to keep that spot.

— 2010: NT Dan Williams. Started at the nose Week 1, 2011. Here’s another No. 1 pick who didn’t start as a rookie. He played, like Wells, but battled his weight and needed to show the coaches he deserved to get that honor. He couldn’t supplant veteran Bryan Robinson in 2010. It’s probably not a coincidence the two top picks who took the longest to crack the starting lineup were also the guys drafted latest in the first round, with Wells at pick No. 31 after the Super Bowl and Williams No. 26 after the Cards’ second straight division title.

— 2011: CB Patrick Peterson. Started at right cornerback Week 1. Peterson, the fifth pick, had an argument that he should have started right away. But I don’t think it would have happened if Greg Toler hadn’t shredded his knee in the preseason; Peterson was running second team at that point and I really have no doubt he would have been there when the regular season started if Toler had stayed healthy.

With all this in mind, and with Andre Roberts (who was, after all, a third-round pick; it’s not like he was an undrafted free agent) growing last year, I don’t know why my thought that Floyd will start the regular season as a reserve is so shocking. Will Floyd be a part of the offense? Of course. At least he should. But start? I don’t think so. Not from Day One.

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33 Responses to “Number ones from “Day One””

  1. By footballguru80 on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    Levi Brown was second string right tackle till Oliver Ross got hurt in training camp.

  2. By Darren Urban on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    footballguru80 —

    RE: Ross/Levi

    Good recall. I will amend.

  3. By beardinals on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    I was stunned (or maybe not) at all the idiotic comments blasted at Darren yesterday. Maybe Darren and Kurt Warner should get togehter and share war stories.

  4. By Mike in Mesa on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    This is why it cracks me up when I keep hearing fans say Whisenhunt isn’t afraid to have a competition at positions and playing the best player. How can that be when he has a preconceived notion that rookies shouldn’t start and be developed? Case in point once a again Acho sitting on the bench and Peterson also would have been sitting, even though they are better than the planned starters. Dan Williams should have been starting from Day 1 also. What was he 5 or 10 lbs overweight. Good reason to bench and start lesser talent. Whisenhunt still has ego problems in my opinion. If Floyd is better in preseason and he starts Doucet and Roberts will just add credence to my opinion on this.

  5. By johnnybluenose on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    i think beanie wells was a good pick for us in 2009 eventhough his potential and effectiveness have been slowed by injury and maybe even by a less than stellar work ethic at times. at least that’s the way it has appeared to me viewing him from afar and watching him run sideways and being tackled too easily too often. maybe the blocking was at fault too, i don’t know. but i am still waiting for beanie to dominate games and i think others are too. so here is my question for you darren, if you have an opinion you wish to share. i was actually hoping we would draft donald brown in 2009 but the colts picked him a couple of picks before we took beanie. i think brown has been a disappointment so far but do you think we would have taken brown over wells had they both been available?

  6. By Darren Urban on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    johnnybluenose —

    RE: 2009 draft

    I do think they would have seriously considered it, yes.

  7. By Peter in Canada on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    Darren –

    I am not sure about Peterson. I agree that you are right about Toler probably starting but the other starting CB was Jefferson, an undrafted second year free agent. Do you not think it plausible that Peterson might have been switched to compete against and likely beat out Jefferson had Toler not been injured?

  8. By Darren Urban on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    Peter —

    RE: Peterson

    An argument can be made, although Peterson didn’t go anywhere and Greg didn’t get hurt until the third preseason game. Do I think Peterson would have started pretty early? Yes. Would it have been for the opener, with Marshall and Jefferson and Toler around? No.

  9. By D on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    Should be a good battle for the 7 LB spots this summer in Flagstaff…
    We know, Washington, Acho, Schofield, Lennon, Bradley should make it…but who out of these Darren do you think will also make the cut….Groves, Sturdivant, Walker and Haagans….


  10. By Darren Urban on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    D —

    RE: Linebackers

    Great question. I’d think one inside guy (Quan or Walker) and one outside guy (Haggans or Groves). The beauty of preseason games. They do mean something.

  11. By joe67 on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    I think the players, young ones and vets alike, would tell you they appreciate having a coach that makes players “earn their stripes” and work their way into the lineup. Not just Cards but players anywhere. I don’t think anyone’s ego has anything to do with it. Lets not create a problem unless there is one.
    You are doing a great job during this slow time of the season, Darren. I think we all appreciate. I know I do.

  12. By cobra on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply


    re: Beanie:

    A highlite reel could be put together showing hin running over db’s and lb’s. We all hope the o-line gets better.

  13. By Travis McCollum on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    I try to tell other cards fan this all the time but none of them want to listen.

  14. By AndyStandsUp on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    Rookies have a tough time starting under Whiz, regardless of draft postion.

    The only guys I can think of that MAY have started under his guide (and Darren, a little help please) were “Backpack Boy” Breaston and LaRuSH on STs, Campbell and Washington on D and Anthony Sherman at FB.

  15. By Darren Urban on Jul 4, 2012 | Reply

    AndyStands –

    RE: rookie ST

    Most rookies, if they are active, play roles on special teams from day one. You have to contribute something.

    Campbell definitely didn’t start on D. He was behind Antonio Smith. Washington started because Gerald Hayes was hurt.

  16. By Sect113 on Jul 3, 2012 | Reply

    Im too am glad that Whiz will wait to start a player. And unless Floyd is head and shoulders better than Roberts than Roberts should start. I wish he would have done this with Kolb last year — started Skelton, who had some familiarity with the offense, and then brought in Kolb after the bye week. But hind sight is 20/20.

  17. By Luke Strauss on Jul 4, 2012 | Reply

    I think my comment on twitter was taken a little out of hand. I did not say that Floyd should start from the beginning or believe he will, I just think that by picking a top 15 player, Whiz expects him to start or at least push for a start in preseason.

  18. By shannon robinson on Jul 4, 2012 | Reply

    D: I think they’ll keep 8 LB’s this season.Outside are Acho, Schofield,Haggans with the battle between Groves and either Brandon Williams (former 4th R pick for Dallas) and Antonio Coleman (Auburn is a great pedigree).Inside are Washington, Bradley, Lenon, and Walker. Sturdivant is practice squad elligible again. All of this can change with performance and maybe Quan is due. I also expect them to keep 6 CB’s and 5 Safeties! It’s now a passing league and Horton gets the depth he will use. That means bad news on the offensive side where we keep only 25 and my guess is the crunch comes at WR where only 5 make the roster! But hey, I’m wrong a lot.

  19. By Andy Kw on Jul 4, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Darren,
    Do you think RB Jarvarris James and DE Landon Cohen will make the final 53 man roster? Will James compete with Alfonso Smith for the 4th Running back spot or will both be on the final roster? I expect LB Quentin Groves to make it to the final roster but since we got Talley backing up Campbell already, do you think there will be a competition between Talley and Cohen for the backup role?

  20. By Darren Urban on Jul 4, 2012 | Reply

    Andy Kw –

    RE: James/Cohen

    I think both are major longshots.

  21. By Bryth on Jul 4, 2012 | Reply

    Darren –

    Off topic but when finally gets around to doing the Cards 32 in 32, will it be posted on this website?

  22. By Darren Urban on Jul 4, 2012 | Reply

    Bryth –

    RE: 32 in 32

    I’m not sure. Probably.

  23. By johnnybluenose on Jul 5, 2012 | Reply

    cobra, re Beanie. i know. he made some great runs and he is a powerful runner. i just want to see more of them. a lot more of them. i hope he rushes for 1500 yards this year. if he does we should be in pretty good shape… let’s get started !!

  24. By Marcos Tucson on Jul 5, 2012 | Reply

    I think fans need to worry less about “when” a top pick will play and worry more about the quality of play a pick will have which is something you can’t judge so hastily

    There is no rule that says a #1 draft pick has to play day one. Let the coaches teach and let the players learn and you will see a better player on the field later on than just throwing an unprepared player on the field day one. I know it’s hard, but have patience.

    And good job on your writing Darren. Always keep us fans in the know. Keep up the great work!

  25. By Louisville Card on Jul 6, 2012 | Reply

    Hi Darren,

    I hope you had a good 4th. I’ve been reading a lot about Laron Byrd. Is he going to be this year’s Stephen Williams?

    Do you think Williams is who he will end up competing with for a PS spot or do you think he might actually make the roster?

  26. By Darren Urban on Jul 6, 2012 | Reply

    Louisville —

    RE: Byrd

    I think Byrd is intriguing but I haven’t seen anything yet that made me say, ‘Yes, he’ll stick for sure.” I don’t think Williams is PS eligible anymore.

  27. By brad oneill on Jul 6, 2012 | Reply

    I think whiz knows that once a player gets in the game the learning is a lot different. he wants to have them learning his way before they revert to what has worked their whole lives. the lessons are easier to get across when the guy is fighting to get in the game instead of after he makes some fantastic play and starts believing he belongs on a wheaties box. You only have so long to mold these guys and then it becomes tweaking. Keep them out as long as possible for the long run good you can instill in them while they still hear.

  28. By Mike on Jul 9, 2012 | Reply

    I would like Ken Whisenhunt a whole lot more if he would implement more of a Todd Haley type offense. The Cardinals went to the Super Bowl on Dennis Green’s drafts and offensive style. No one really knows how much power Ken Whisenhunt truly has to say if he wanted to give up on a 1st round draft pick (Levi Brown) if he would really be allowed to do so. I do not care to recall how many times especially crucial times where a flag was thrown and we hear “false start, offense #75…) I 100% believe we should have moved on from bad bad Levi Brown!

  29. By cardsfan on Jul 9, 2012 | Reply

    And how is that plan working out for Whiz & the top draft picks he chooses to sit? Dan Williams and Beanie Wells should proly have been starting since day 1 like DRC & PP rather than ride pine under Robertson & Hightower, ya think? The kid from ND better start day 1

  30. By William Barry on Jul 23, 2012 | Reply

    As far as Linebackers, It would be great if Quan could make the roster this year. Darren, your thoughts on his ability….

  31. By Darren Urban on Jul 23, 2012 | Reply

    William —

    RE: Sturdivant

    I think he’s got a chance to make the roster, but he will have to fight for it. Certainly not a lock.

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