We have now reached part eight of our series of the worst players drafted by position in Arizona Cardinals history. After breaking down the defensive end position last week and discussing the Cardinals biggest bust of the 1990s defensive end Andre Wadsworth, we now head to the interior part of the defensive line the big boys in the middle, the defensive tackles.
The Cardinals have selected 10 defensive tackles in the first or second round of the NFL Draft in the past 50 years, including seven defensive tackles in the 2nd round and three defensive tackles in the third round. Out of these 10, six have started at least two years for the Cardinals including Dan Williams, Eric Swann, David Galloway, Mike Dawson, Bob Rowe, and Ken Kortas. These seven have combined to log 31 seasons as a starter for the Arizona Cardinals, but only one of which made the Pro Bowl with the Arizona Cardinals, Eric Swann, who did it twice in 1995 and 1996. Dave Butz, only played two seasons in a Cardinals uniform and none as a starter, but went on to start for the Washington Redskins for 12 years and make one Pro Bowl. Carl McAdams, whom the Cardinals took with the eighth pick of the 1966 NFL Draft, was also selected by the New York Jets in the AFL Draft and never played for the Cardinals. That leaves us with two candidates for the worst defensive tackle ever drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, both of which were drafted in the 21st century.
The runner-up for the dubious distinction of worst defensive tackle ever drafted by the Arizona Cardinals goes Alan Branch. Branch is a 6’6 330 pound behemoth who was highly touted and sought after coming out of Michigan entering the 2007 NFL Draft. The Cardinals thought they had a steal when he slipped out of the first round and they selected him with the 33rd pick of the 2007 NFL Draft. Branch never was a great fit for the Cardinals scheme and was viewed as a complete bust as he was only able to muster four sacks and three starts in his four seasons as a Cardinal. Branch turned his career around after leaving Arizona though and started 31 of 32 games for the Seahawks in 2011 and 2012 and was a key contributor. He went on to Buffalo where he started 13 of 16 games for the Bills last season. The fact that Branch has tapped into some of his massive potential and become a dependable starter in the NFL the past three seasons (albeit not for the Cardinals), means he cannot be considered the worst defensive tackle drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. That honor is reserved for a much more deserving man and disappointing draft selection.
And the winner is…… Wendell Bryant (Round 1: Pick 12, 2002)
Career Stats: 29 career games, 9 as a starter, 1.5 sacks, 29 tackles
Ah yes another classic in the Cardinals nightmarish history of draft busts good ole Wendell Bryant. He was a very highly touted defensive lineman coming out of the University of Wisconsin as he was named the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year his junior and senior seasons in 2000 and 2001. Hence why the Cardinals took him with the 12th selection of the 2002 NFL Draft. Bryant would only last three seasons in the NFL with little production before being suspended the entire 2005 season for his third strike in the NFL’s substance abuse policy and never played in the NFL again. He was signed by the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League in 2009 but was placed on injured reserve later that season. Bryant’s non-existence of production, and shortened career due to substance abuse problems are why he fits the bill as the worst defensive lineman ever drafted by the Arizona Cardinals.