Ranking Cardinals’s 4 biggest NFL draft gems of the last decade

Even through a tough 10 years in Arizona, there have been some impressive draft hits.
Arizona Cardinals v Philadelphia Eagles
Arizona Cardinals v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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It's been a rough decade for the Arizona Cardinals.

After finishing with 10+ wins in back-to-back seasons in 2014 and 2015, the Cardinals have only won double-digit games once since. In that time, they've finished in the bottom half of the NFC West six times, and four of those six times, they came in last. 2021's 11-win season, which ended in a 23-point Wild Card game loss to the Rams, was a nice change of pace, but the team has only won eight total games in the two years since.

Taking Kyler Murray 1st overall in 2019's Draft was supposed to change things, and yet Murray's already showing up as a valuable trade piece in mock drafts this year. And we're not even going to get started on the Josh Rosen decision, but you remember. We all remember.

Interestingly enough, however, the Cardinals' draft board over the last 10 years has a surprising amount of good picks.

They're certainly not the savviest draft group in the league, but a semi-deep dive into the cavernous pit that is Football Reference shows that the team has had some recent success finding draft gems. And since it's Draft SZN, let's take a look at some of the biggest Cardinals draft gems of the last decade. From Tyrann Mathieu to Chase Edmonds to Christian Kirk, there are plenty of guys still playing at a high level that we can say a few nice things about.

4. S Tyrann Mathieu

Year, Round: 2013, 3rd (69th overall)

This one's kind of cheating, considering that 2013 was technically 11 years ago [deep sigh]. But outside of one other safety (who's going to show up later on this list, if you can believe it) who's been a bigger Cardinals draft success than Mathieu?

After being a star for LSU, Mathieu came to Arizona and immediately made an impact, starting 11 games of the 13 games he appeared in. After a season where he put up 68 tackles, two interceptions, and one forced fumble, Mathieu finished 4th in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.

And while injuries played a somewhat significant role in his Cardinals career – he only played 16 games once while in Arizona – Mathieu continued to get better, and was a bonafide defensive star by the time he was named to the NFL's First Team All-Pro squad in 2015. He's since made two more First Team All-Pros, been named to a couple of Pro Bowls, and won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs.

On top of all that, going into his 11th year, he's still playing at a high level with the Saints. It was quite the find, even if most of Mathieu's career highlights have played out elsewhere.