NFL Draft roundtable: What do the Arizona Cardinals do at No. 23?
The offseason is about to enter its next phase with the 2022 NFL Draft kicking off Thursday night.
The Arizona Cardinals have a lot of avenues they can traverse with their No. 23 overall pick.
Figuring out which way they’ll go is the tricky part.
With that being said, Arizona Sports hosts and editors gave their picks as to what they think the Cardinals will do in the first round while also pinpointing the team’s biggest positional need.
What do you predict the Cardinals will do with the No. 23 pick?
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: I believe the Cardinals will listen to offers from teams trying to move up, but ultimately will stay at No. 23 and draft their biggest need currently: A cornerback. And I believe the best CB that will be available at that point will be Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: I expect the Cardinals to work hard for a trade, most likely back to add an extra pick. I can see them going offensive line with either Tyler Linderbaum or Kenyon Green. Arizona only has two offensive lineman under contract for next year so this should be a priority.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: Best guess is it will be a wide receiver and specifically Penn State wideout Johan Dotson. I think he profiles well as a potential outside receiver despite his size. Steve Keim has committed crazy resources to the receiver position over the years, but Kyler Murray could use all the weapons he can get so I feel like he must address it again.
Luke Lapinski, co-host of Wolf & Luke: I think they’ll go best available like they keep saying, but I have to assume that means best available at either CB, EDGE, DL or WR. You don’t want to reach for someone based entirely on need in the first round, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to take someone who plays a position you’re already loaded at either. They have enough needs where a really good player with a quick path to playing time should still be there for them, even at No. 23. Adding a guy who can get after the quarterback would probably make the most sense, but that’s the deepest position in this draft so they might be able to wait and address it in the second round. If they choose to go that way, they could easily get a corner or maybe even a really talented receiver in the first round.
Ron Wolfley, co-host of Wolf & Luke: They will make a selection with the pick. And that selection will be a player that can help them in 2022. Whomever they pick at 23, the floor is more important than the ceiling. They need to get a player that will contribute immediately.
Tyler Drake, Cardinals reporter, co-host of Cardinals Corner: As we get closer and closer to the draft, I continue to flip-flop between players. If a Chris Olave, Jermaine Johnson or Trent McDuffie is there at No. 23, I think Arizona jumps at the chance. However, if that trio is off the board (highly likely), I could see the Cardinals moving back and opting to add another bodyguard for Kyler Murray in the form of versatile Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green. If you’re going to pay the man, which I think happens soon after the draft wraps, why not add another reinforcement in the trenches? This draft is deep enough at the positions the Cardinals need to address that I think they can get away with shoring up protection up front. And let’s remember, the Cardinals don’t have a fourth- or fifth-rounder. I could see Keim moving back if it means getting a pick or two back in that range.
Erik Ruby, afternoon contributor, co-host of Cardinals Corner: I don’t think anyone can confidently say they’ll predict which player the Cardinals will draft in the first round. This class lacks a definitive hierarchy, meaning a lot of players can jump and, of course, fall. With that being said, I believe the Cardinals will take the No. 23 pick and trade it. It could be a move backwards to gain more picks and depth because everyone they wanted got taken already, or they could move up to get into position and cut the line for their “must-have” prospect. I expect the pick to be on the move and whichever player the Cardinals end up drafting, it will be to take the best WR or EDGE available.
Kevin Zimmerman, lead editor for ArizonaSports.com: If I had to put money on it, they will draft a cornerback. There are a handful hovering in the back-half of the first round who could be on the board, be it Washington’s Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon, Clemson’s Andrew Booth or Florida’s Kaiir Elam. That’s assuming an edge rusher like Jermaine Johnson out of FSU or a receiver like Alabama’s Jameson Williams or Ohio State’s Chris Olave does not fall.
Kellan Olson, editor of ArizonaSports.com: Trent McDuffie. Steve Keim loves a DB from Washington.
Jake Anderson, editor of ArizonaSports.com: Keim’s history tells us that the Cardinals will either pick No. 23 overall or earlier via trade if there is a guy Arizona loves, although they don’t always pan out (Josh Rosen). I think the team either takes a cornerback or a defensive lineman — not a linebacker/safety hybrid — in the first round for the first time in three drafts.
In your eyes, what is the biggest positional need that has to be addressed this draft and why?
Marotta: It’s not like they don’t have other needs, because they do (DT, edge, WR, interior OL), but the corner position got worse as the season went on in 2021 and they still don’t have a clear-cut No. 1 at the position. Not saying Booth fills that need immediately, but at least he increases depth and could materialize into that guy.
Gambo: Biggest need is edge rusher but that does not mean they have to address that in the first round. Could find someone they like in the second at that position.
Burns: Positional needs are aplenty. Receiver, corner, edge, offensive line. The Cards need long term answers at all of those spots. Too many to fill in one draft.
Lapinski: EDGE rusher and receiver. And fortunately for Arizona, those are widely considered two of the strongest positions in this class. I’d like to see them add a corner too, but a vet makes more sense there, since they’re already so young with Byron Murphy, Jeff Gladney and Marco Wilson. Really as long as they just don’t draft another inside linebacker I’ll be ok with it.
Wolf: EDGE. Even though you can scheme pressure in the NFL — and many teams do — the best way to get pressure on the QB is to just be better than the guy trying to block you. Rush four, drop seven and get pressure is still the best way to get after a quarterback. The Cardinals have a void to fill at EDGE and even though corners and wide receivers are positions of need, the Edge is the biggest vacancy on the depth chart.
Drake: Of the three positions Keim mentioned in his pre-draft availability (cornerback, pass rusher, wide receiver), I think you can flip a coin between wide receiver and pass rusher. If I had to pick, wide receiver is the biggest position of need in my eyes. Give Kyler Murray another passing option that can be that No. 1 guy for the future. A.J. Green showed flashes last year and appears ready to continue to build his rapport with K1, but after watching the offense as a whole falter after D-Hop went down in the second half of the season, the Cards need another world-beater in the mix to learn from Hopkins and compete with Green and Rondale Moore. You can never have too many pass catchers in this offense.
Ruby: Could it be a tie between WR and EDGE? I guess, but in my opinion, the Cardinals NEED to fill that Chandler-Jones-sized hole in the defense and they need to do it now. With a defense that will now be relying on the young core of Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins, having someone alongside them who is talented and impactful is a must. Of course, there are risks with dropping another young, inexperienced player into the fold but that is a risk Keim and Co. have put themselves in a position they have to take. Obviously, a young talented WR would be a great addition to Arizona but they have to go defense. I feel the WR trade market will be better than the EDGE market, therefore the focus must be on the EDGE in the draft.
Zimmerman: Talking about the whole draft, I can zero in on the front-seven. Edge is an obvious need with Chandler Jones gone, but the defensive line could use a boost on the interior arguably as much. Arizona has been forced to go with undersized, pass-rush-heavy packages too often in the past three years.
Olson: Wide receiver. I do not have faith in A.J. Green and Rondale Moore being enough as the supplementary options outside of DeAndre Hopkins and Zach Ertz. A long-term No. 1 would be good to have too.
Anderson: With how deep this year’s draft class is for EDGE rushers, perhaps the Cardinals address the secondary in the first round and then replace the franchise’s all-time sack leader in Chandler Jones with the 55th overall pick. And unless Keim pulls off one of his trademark deals, Arizona will only have three selections in the top 87 picks before having to wait until the sixth round at No. 201, as the team doesn’t have a fourth- or fifth-rounder. Other deep positions in this class include offensive line and wide receiver, but do Keim and Co. want to take another WR in the top three rounds again for the third time in four drafts?