As we continue our series on the best and worst draft picks in Arizona Cardinals history there was bound to be a position or two that stood out. When I researched the wide receiver position I was surprised by how well the Cardinals have done finding successful wide receivers through the draft. Tight ends on the other hand leave a lot to be desired. The Cardinals have not had a single Pro Bowl tight end in the modern era.
Before the NFL and AFL merged, the Cardinals did feature 5-time Pro Bowl tight end Jackie Smith. Since then the Cardinals have used 26 draft picks on the tight end position. There hasn’t been a whole lot to write home about. Recent third-round pick Rob Housler has been solid, but with the current trend of pass catching and dynamic tight ends, Housler doesn’t quite stand out.
So who is the best tight end the Cardinals have drafted in the modern era? That distinction goes to a name most of you will probably recognize. Jay Novacek may not have made a Pro Bowl as a member of the Cardinals, but he was selected to five straight as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. He was part of the great Dallas teams that won three Super Bowls in four seasons. His career was cut short due to a back injury.
The tight end position as certainly changed over the years. The evolution of guys like Shannon Sharpe to Tony Gonzalez to the new breeds like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski has made the tight end a dangerous weapon in many offensive arsenals. Is it time the Cardinals found their own matchup nightmare? Could Eric Ebron fall to them at number 20 and be that guy?
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has gone on the record that his tight ends must block first and catch second, so I doubt any record breaking tight ends are going to be wearing a Cardinals jersey any time soon. Then again, the draft is full of coaches who are well versed in the art of misdirection.