ARIZONA CARDINALS

PFF has Cardinals getting defensive help in 3-round mock draft

Mar 18, 2023, 7:35 AM

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)...

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As the 2023 NFL Draft gets closer, buzz around the Arizona Cardinals has now shifted to the team’s third overall pick and what they will do in the early parts of the draft.

According to Pro Football Focus analyst Trevor Sikkema, the Cardinals will be looking for defense and running back depth in the first three rounds.

Here are the Arizona picks from his latest mock.

Round 1, Pick 3: LB Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

Possibly the most popular name surrounding the Cardinals’ No. 3 pick, Anderson Jr. is a top defensive player in the draft who could go a long way for a Cardinals defense that needs new blood at defensive line and pass rusher.

“The Cardinals could easily trade down here, but after losing Zach Allen in free agency, they badly need to shore up the defensive line,” Sikkema wrote. “They won’t want to trade down too far, especially when they could have a player like Anderson in the top three.

Former Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen just recently signed with the Broncos. Allen and the retired J.J. Watt were the team sack leaders last year, combining for 18 of the team’s 36 sacks.

Anderson Jr. is also a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year who led the nation in sacks (17.5) and tackles for loss (34.5) during his sophomore season in 2021.

Round 2, Pick 34: RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

Sticking with the Crimson Tide and ranked as the fourth-best running back in the 2023 class by PFF, Gibbs is a smaller, elusive running back who is a threat in the passing game.

Gibbs caught 78 passes for 848 yards and five touchdowns in his final two seasons with Alabama and would be a nice fit with James Conner for a committee in the backfield. Last year, Conner battled with some injuries and was sort of a one-man show, running for 782 yards and seven scores with 46 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown through the air.

The Cardinals last year were without a pass-catching running back after Chase Edmonds departed.

Round 3, Pick 66: CB Tyrique Stevenson, Miami

The Cardinals also lost Byron Murphy Jr. to the Minnesota Vikings in free agency, meaning they could use a young cornerback like Stevenson.

Stevenson allowed only 17 catches in his last season with Miami.

Stevenson is not known for top-notch athleticism but has the physicality and patience to be a pure outside corner for a young defense.

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