Both were positions of need for the Arizona Cardinals. It was both of my personal prospects that somehow managed to land at #8. Isaiah Simmons was the pick and the rest is history. I was listening to the Locked On Cardinals podcast (April 21st episode) in which the CEO of The Draft Network, Paige Dimakos said that she lets Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim hear it about his choice in the first round last year.
While it is very true the protection for Kyler Murray wasn’t super, It wasn’t that great either (despite them getting ranked 12th by PFF). Would Tristan Wirfs have had the same impact in Arizona that he did in Tampa? Let’s consider the following with all players healthy and not injured as if they’d suited up last year.
Notable NFC West “In the Box” players last year
- Aaron Donald
- Nick Bosa
- Bobby Wagner
- Solomon Thomas
- Bruce Irvin
- Fred Warner
Notable “in the box” players from the NFC South last year:
- Cameron Jordan
- Trey Hendrickson
- Anyone else?
I don’t think Wirfs would’ve had the same type of success in the NFC West. It’s not a knock on Wirfs talent at all, but having Tom Brady as your quarterback sure helps a lot. Simmons was also not really put into a position to succeed with no clear direction from Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph.
Simmons faced a steeper learning curve than Wirfs in my opinion with having to play with a young QB and an offense that clearly sputtered down the stretch, tiring out the defense. Let’s not forget that Simmons did win the Cardinals the game against the Patriots, but one of the worst calls in Cardinals history on a penalty flag negated it.
Had that flag never been thrown, I wonder what people would think about this decision now. On top of that, the interception of Russell Wilson in the overtime game was a statement win at the time.
Of course, it is only one year in, and a lot can happen over the course of their careers and we’ll see what happens. I still think Simmons was the correct choice.