For as long as I can remember when you talk about the Arizona Cardinals, you would always bring up their offensive line. It usually was a discussion about how they need to improve their line or just how outright bad it was. Long time Cardinals fans will tell you that it wasn’t always that way.
In this edition of our series that covers both the best and worst picks the Cardinals have made in the modern era, we are looking at the best picks from the interior of the offensive line. Last season the Cardinals made the interior line a priority by selecting Jonathan Cooper with the seventh overall pick out of North Carolina. The Cardinals are finally starting to put the pieces together for a strong offensive line. Before Cooper, it had been quite a while since they drafted a stud on the inside.
Throughout the history of the Cardinals, there are only a handful of top quality interior linemen that have been drafted by Arizona. In the early seventies they hit on two within two years of each other. In 1970 they drafted center Tom Banks in the eighth round. Banks played nine years with the Cardinals and went to four Pro Bowls. In 1972 they drafted Conrad Dobler in the fifth round. Dobler went to three Pro Bowls, playing on the same line that feature Banks and Dan Dierdorf. Dobler was known as a vicious and dirty player, including the time he punched Mean Joe Greene.
The Cardinals would only find that kind of success once in each of the next two decades. In 1986 they drafted Ray Brown in the eighth round. Brown finally made the Pro Bowl at the end of his career in 2001 when he also made his first All-Pro team. Brown won a Super Bowl as a member of the Washington Redskins in 1992.
So who was the best Cardinals’ interior offensive linemen ever drafted? That honor would go to center Jeff Christy. Christy was drafted by the Cardinals in the fourth round in the 1992 draft. Christy never played a regular season game with the Cardinals. He was cut by the Cards and missed the entire 1992 season before catching on with Minnesota the next year. Christy went on to make the Pro Bowl three times, was selected as an All-Pro twice and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003.
For some reason it’s not a real big surprise to me that the best interior linemen ever drafted by the Cardinals, never actually played for the Cardinals. That was just the kind of franchise they were back then.