The Arizona Cardinals accomplished addition by subtraction this week. They traded away left tackle Levi Brown for a conditional draft pick from the Pittsurgh Steelers. The key question for me: What future round draft pick will the Cardinals have to surrender to the Steelers for agreeing to take Levi off our hands and out of our misery?
Since 2007, I have watched good ole’ Levi game after game from my seats in Section 201 at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Repeatedly, he was too slow to block a defensive end who took an outside route to the quarterback, too clumsy to fight off a spin move into an inside route, and too overwhelmed to fend off a bull rush from even a smaller defensive lineman. I did notice that Levi was always right next to any of the revolving door Cardinal quarterbacks as they were sacked or hit by the rush. To Levi’s credit, he was almost always the first to offer a hand to his downed-quarterback as he picked himself up from the turf.
Levi’s body of work (or lack thereof) as a Cardinal could explain my confusion when Bruce Arians described Brown as an “elite” tackle this past offseason after Arians arrived and assessed our returning “talent.” “What game film had he been watching?” I asked. Or, was Arians the eternal optimist? Whatever the case, the education of Coach Arians occurred during the opening game of the 2013 season when Levi allowed Robert Quinn of the Rams to perfom as if he was a potential Hall of Fame defensive end when lined up opposite to the Cardinals’ left tackle.
Levi Brown was selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. We then and since have needed help on the offensive line, so I can’t be too critical of the Cardinals for attempting to fill a need. Nonetheless, in selecting Levi, the Cardinals passed on the likes of Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, and Darrelle Revis. Each of these greats were selected in the 2007 draft AFTER the Cardinals’ selection. Ouch!
This number five overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft will likely be replaced for the rest of this season either by Nate Porter or Bradley Sowell. Porter played collegiately for Boise State and was selected by the Cardinals in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. Sowell went undrafted after his college days at Ole Miss and is now with his third team in just over one NFL season. Yet my guess is that either of them is an upgrade at the position. If I am mistaken, they can at least watch game film from over the past five seasons to emulate Levi’s method of assistance as they help Carson Palmer get up from the ground after being nailed by a defensive end.
The Steelers are winless after their first four games of the 2013 season. What harm can be done by adding Levi Brown? Ask that to Ben Roethlisberger sometime in November.