As we continue our series looking back at the history of the Arizona Cardinals, this week the attention is on the inside linebackers. It’s always interesting to see a team’s tendencies when it comes to the draft and free agency. There are certain positions that the Cardinals have done extremely well drafting and others that the team has been content to pick up available free agents to fill the role.
Inside linebacker is one of those positions that over history the Cardinals have not done a very good job drafting. At least until recently that is. Over the previous 40 years, the Cardinals have only had one inside linebacker that they drafted make the Pro Bowl. That’s right; only one. Can you guess who the one is?
If you said Daryl Washington then you would be right. Karlos Dansby has never made a Pro Bowl, although he did make the Associated Press All-NFL second team last season and should have made the Pro Bowl as well. The only other inside linebacker that is worth mentioning is Eric Hill. Hill was drafted with the tenth-overall pick in the 1989 draft. He played 11 seasons in the NFL and finished with 870 tackles, nine forced fumbles and nine sacks.
So out of pretty slim pickings, who makes the cut as the best inside linebacker ever drafted by the Arizona Cardinals?
As of now that honor belongs to Karlos Dansby, who the Cardinals took in the second round of the 2004 draft. Dansby has had two stints with the Cardinals and just signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent this offseason. He has been a very solid and often underrated player. So far in his career he has amassed an impressive 824 tackles, 38 sacks, 17 forced fumbles, and 9 interceptions.
Dansby may not be able to keep this status for long though. Washington has already made one Pro Bowl and has proven to be a dynamic player on the field. The true test for Washington will be if he can get his act together off it. He already missed games due to a suspension last season and is likely to miss more this season as well after pleading guilty in a domestic violence incident.
Sadly, in the NFL, we have gotten used to the fact that brains and talent don’t always come in the same package.