Could Cardinals trade down and still draft Will Anderson Jr.?

Mar 21, 2023, 9:32 AM | Updated: 11:13 am

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting comb...

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, March 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Since Mel Kiper Jr. last made an NFL mock draft for ESPN, things have changed.

The Chicago Bears traded their top pick to the Carolina Panthers, effectively lining up the first two selections in the 2023 draft to be used on quarterbacks.

It could end up being more than helpful to the rebuilding Arizona Cardinals as they sit in the third slot. And Kiper’s new mock draft certainly looks like it was made by a greedy Cardinals fan.

He has Arizona trading down a single spot and still drafting the guy who many prognosticators believe GM Monti Ossenfort should be targeting: Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr.

The notable portion of Kiper’s mock draft is with regards to how valuable that No. 3 pick is at this moment and how much Arizona could receive for trading down.

I mentioned last month the Mitch Trubisky trade from 2017, when the Bears moved from No. 3 to No. 2 in a deal with the 49ers. Chicago gave up the Nos. 3, 67 and 111 picks along with its third-rounder in the 2018 draft. That’s the comp for this move, though as we saw in Carolina’s trade up to No. 1, the asking price increases based on the competition. If Las Vegas or Seattle gets involved, Arizona could get much more.

The trade down gives the Indianapolis Colts a chance to select quarterback Will Levis as the third signal caller taken in a row to begin the draft, behind Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young.

Arizona pockets two top-100 picks to do it.

This trade down likely would give Arizona the Colts’ second- and third-rounders (Nos. 35 and 79) at the very least, giving it a bunch of capital to make upgrades.

Because of the likely interest in the No. 3 pick, Kiper believes there’s the possibility Arizona dangles it in front of bidders all the way to being on the clock on draft night.

But the crown jewel of any draft haul in the eyes of a strong majority is Anderson, who according to Pro Football Focus posted 65 and 82 total pressures in 2022 and 2021, respectively.

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Could Cardinals trade down and still draft Will Anderson Jr.?