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.

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Arizona Cardinals v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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2. RB David Johnson

Year, Round: 2015, 3rd (86th overall)

The Cardinals' 2015 draft class was one of the better ones of the last decade – Golden, Johnson and DJ Humphries were the headliners, but Rodney Gunter (4th round) and JJ Nelson (5th round) also had some productive years in Arizona.

None of them will be remembered like Johnson, whose 2016 sophomore season was one of the best in team history. In 16 games that year, Johnson rushed for over 1200 yards and scored 16 (!!) touchdowns. Unsurprisingly, he was named to the NFL's First Team All Pro unit, made the Pro Bowl, and finished 3rd in Offensive Player of the Year voting. His 16 rushing touchdowns that year were a franchise record that still stands today.

Things kind of went downhill after that – he only played one game in 2017 and has yet to ever get over 1,000 yards rushing since. After a couple of seasons with the Texans, he last played with the Saints in 2022 – and now at 32, probably isn't going to find a fourth team anytime soon. If that's a wrap for Johnson's NFL career, it was a great one.

1. S Budda Baker

Year, Round: 2017, 2nd (36th overall)

If you want to argue that it's exceptionally hard for anyone to be a draft steal when they're taken 36th overall, I won't stop you. But in terms of production and longevity, no one in the last decade stacks up with Baker, who's the only Cardinals player to make multiple All Pro teams while actually playing for Arizona.

He's also made six Pro Bowls during that span, which is far and away the most of any anyone associated with the franchise. He's still playing at a high level, too: 2023 was his best year as a tackler, according to PFF's tackling grade and Baker's missed tackle percentage. He was also a team captain in 2023, which is a no-brainer considering how what he's meant to the organization and the fact that he chose to re-sign with them back in 2020 despite having one of the better markets in the history of the safety position.

Even at 36 overall, it's hard to have the type of career that Baker's already had.

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