Arizona Cardinals add to the trenches in ESPN’s 2-round mock draft
Feb 7, 2022, 9:44 AM | Updated: 9:58 am
The Arizona Cardinals have a number of positional areas they need to improve on this offseason.
While free agency is certainly an avenue Arizona will travel, the Cardinals also have at least five draft picks to work with in the 2022 NFL Draft.
In ESPN’s latest two-round mock draft, the Cardinals attack both sides of the trenches in 2022.
With the 23rd pick in the draft, ESPN has Arizona taking Texas A&M offensive lineman Kenyon Green.
Green played every position along the offensive line for the Aggies, looking comfortable at all five spots. He projects best at guard in the NFL, and that versatility is exactly what the Cardinals need. Considering the talent of the defensive lines in the NFC West and the playing style of quarterback Kyler Murray, he would be a welcome addition to a unit that needs help around center Rodney Hudson.
Green played at both guard and tackles spots during his junior year at Texas A&M in 2021. For his efforts, he was named to the AP All-American and All-SEC first teams.
Injuries and poor play impacted the consistency along the interior for the Cardinals. After getting the starting nod over the likes of Justin Murray at right guard, Josh Jones underwhelmed in his role. He was eventually replaced by Max Garcia, who took backup center reps throughout training camp.
And with left guard Justin Pugh’s contract up at the end of 2022, on top of the unknown on Murray’s back injury, it would be wise to spend some draft capital on a versatile lineman for run game coordinator and offensive line coach Sean Kugler to mold.
Keeping quarterback Kyler Murray out of harm’s way is key.
After shoring up the offensive line in the first round, ESPN has the Cardinals shopping for a pass rusher in Penn State linebacker Arnold Ebiketie with their second-round pick (No. 55).
With Chandler Jones possibly moving on in free agency, Arizona could target a young pass-rusher opposite Markus Golden. Ebiketie is raw, but Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has shown he’s not afraid to select projects early and hope that coaching allows them to reach the ceiling of their potential. A fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Ebiketie’s explosiveness and natural traits as a pass-rusher could help him be a contributor in spots early in his rookie season. The Temple transfer had 9.5 sacks last season.
With the uncertainty surrounding linebacker Chandler Jones, rolling the dice with Ebiketie makes sense.
Jones got off to a hot start, recording five sacks in Week 1, but saw his sack total finish at 10.5 by season’s end. And with the linebacker looking for a nice pay day, he and the Cardinals could be on different wavelengths.
Fellow pass rusher Markus Golden is coming off one of his best years as a pro, pacing the team in sacks with 11 to go along with 19 QB hits and 10 tackles for loss. Pairing a consistent and energetic Golden with a young rookie eager to learn could have its benefits, especially long term.
There isn’t much depth at the position, either, with Devon Kennard and Victor Dimukeje the only other outside linebackers signed through at least next season.