The Cardinals and their fans can get a chance to play “What if?” today. They visit the Baltimore Ravens, who feature a star-caliber player the Cardinals could have drafted: pass rusher Terrell Suggs.
This is more than just second-guessing; lots of draft observers and fans thought they should have taken Suggs at the time.
In 2003, the Cards could have taken the Chandler Hamilton High star out of ASU, but they decided to trade down; they ended up with linebacker Calvin Pace and receiver Bryant Johnson later in the first round. These were players they probably could have gotten in later rounds.
Suggs, 24, is a two-time Pro Bowler who could blossom into a superstar.
In the Cardinals’ defense, Suggs got in an off-field altercation before the draft, which called into question his judgment.
But on the field, Suggs has been “fabulous” for the Ravens, coach Brian Billick says.
“He has had a great offseason of conditioning and was ready to come into the season. He is becoming one of those guys that as an offensive guy, you better account for on every snap.”
Suggs has nine tackles in the Ravens’ first two games, though he does not have a sack.
“He is a force,” Billick said.
Billick says he remains “very much” surprised that the Ravens were able to draft him at No. 10 in 2003.
“I have vivid memories leading up to the draft of what we call our readings of players.”
He recalls Ozzie Newsome, the team’s general manager, saying, 'Look, we don’t need to spend a lot of time” on two or three players who would be gone by No. 10.
“Terrell was one of them,” Billick says. “We had him rated that highly, and when he did (fall) it was a great surprise and we were thrilled to death it turned out the way it did.”
The Cardinals are fortunate that they’re not seeing double in this area today.
That’s because another player they could have drafted — possible Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden — is expected to miss the game with a toe injury.
The Cardinals could have drafted Ogden in the first round in 1996.
Instead, they took Simeon Rice with the No. 3 pick. The Ravens, who had just moved from Cleveland, then took Ogden at No. 4.