CARDINALS CORNER

Cardinals’ mock draft scenarios: Arizona keeps the No. 3 pick

Mar 22, 2023, 4:07 PM | Updated: Mar 24, 2023, 9:52 am

Alabama's Will Anderson Jr.(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)...

Alabama's Will Anderson Jr.(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Trade the third overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft or keep it?

That’s the question new Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort will have to answer soon enough.

But until he does, that gives us a chance to look at both sides of the coin. With some help from the Pro Football Focus mock draft generator, I ran through each of Arizona’s eight draft picks, dictating what they should do with each.

The rules are simple: Focus solely on the Cardinals’ current draft picks and no skipping allowed.

For the first edition of this two-part series, it’s all about staying put at No. 3.

A look at the chaos:

No. 3: Will Anderson Jr., OLB (Alabama)

No-brainer here!

Anderson is the best player on the board and an easy choice for the Cardinals to make.

Yes, there is more than one need on this roster, but adding a generational-type talent to build around on the defensive side of the ball is a great way to speed up a rebuild.

The pass rusher’s numbers speak for themselves.

Lining up primarily as an outside linebacker, Anderson rattled off 51 tackles, 17 of which were for losses, 10 sacks and an interception that was returned for a touchdown across 13 games. Per PFF, Anderson totaled 65 QB pressures in 2022.

The 6-foot-3, 253-pound linebacker’s final season at Alabama may not have been as stellar as his sophomore year — 17.5 sacks, 101 tackles, 31 TFLs, 82 pressures — but it was far from anything to scoff at.

Following all the downs Arizona faced last season, bringing in a guy like Anderson would be an immediate boost to the locker room.

Feedback: PFF graded the Anderson pick with an A+.

No. 34: Will McDonald IV, OLB (Iowa State)

Defensive-minded head coach, defensive-minded start to the draft for the Cardinals.

With additional help needed at pass rusher, the Cardinals find a potential running mate for Anderson in the 6-foot-4, 245-pound McDonald.

I personally don’t think he makes it to No. 34, but if he does, Arizona should jump at the opportunity.

The former Cyclone is coming off five sacks and 7.5 tackles for losses in 12 games played last season.

Entering 2022, McDonald had combined for 22 sacks and 26 tackles for losses from 2020-21.

He also proved his determination and overall work ethic at the 2023 NFL Draft Combine.

Despite falling ill with a high fever two days before the combine, McDonald still impressed with a 36-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump.

The linebacker followed up that combine performance with a strong pro day, headlined by a 4.62 40-yard dash time, on Tuesday.

Toss him in the mix with Anderson, Cam Thomas, Myjai Sanders, Dennis Gardeck and Victor Dimukeje and see what sticks.

Feedback: PFF graded the second-round pick of McDonald with an A.

No. 66: Eli Ricks, CB (Alabama)

It’s a run of defenders!

After looking at the line of scrimmage the first rounds, it’s time to add some depth to the secondary with the selection of Ricks in the third.

A college teammate of Anderson, Ricks gives the Cardinals another option on the outside alongside Marco Wilson and Antonio Hamilton.

The 6-foot-2, 188-pound Ricks is coming off 13 tackles, one of which was for a loss, to go along with four passes defensed in his lone season at Alabama (nine games).

Feedback: PFF graded out the third-round pick of Ricks with an A-.

No. 96: Kobie Turner, DL (Wake Forest)

OK, one last defender before we turn our attention to the offense.

As much as there is a need on the outside of the defensive line, the same can be said for the interior.

Could Turner help lock down the inside?

The 6-foot-3, 290-pounder recorded two sacks, 10 tackles for loss and two passes defensed playing the majority of his snaps at defensive tackle last season.

Given the current makeup on the interior, Turner could have the chance to fight for reps early on with Rashard Lawrence, Leki Fotu and Kevin Strong.

Feedback: PFF was not a fan of this third-round compensatory pick, handing out a D+.

No. 105: Olusegun Oluwatimi, C (Michigan)

There was no way I was going through this exercise without adding a center this draft after what we saw transpire last season.

With Rodney Hudson headed for retirement and no real answer at the center spot, Oluwatimi is a legit option that could be utilized right away if he can get up to NFL speed.

After spending three seasons at Virginia, the 6-foot-3, 307-pound Oluwatimi wrapped up his college career as a graduate student at Michigan where he was recognized as both the top center and interior lineman in the country with the Rimington and Outland Trophies. He started 14 games in 2022.

Not a bad player to build around by any means.

Feedback: PFF graded out the fourth-round pick with a C.

No. 168: Chandler Zavala, OG (North Carolina State)

Another pick, another body along the line of scrimmage.

Seeing all but one of his 745 offensive snaps at left guard last season, the 6-foot-5, 325-pounder gives Arizona another option at a position up for grabs alongside Lecitus Smith, Marquis Hayes, Hayden Howerton and Hjalte Froholdt.

Feedback: PFF graded out the fifth-round compensatory pick with an A.

No. 180: Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR (West Virginia)

With all the trade speculation surrounding wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, it felt necessary to burn a late-round pick on a big-bodied wideout that can line up on the outside.

At 6-foot-4 and 221 pounds, Ford-Wheaton fits that mold.

Seeing 625 of his 688 offensive snaps out wide, Ford-Wheaton reeled in 62 catches for 675 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games played last season.

Feedback: PFF graded the sixth-round pick with an A.

No. 213: Alex Forsyth, C (Oregon)

Call me crazy, but after what we saw last season, why not have more than one option at center to fall back on?

If anything, the addition of the 6-foot-4, 303-pounder coming off 12 starts last season for the Ducks provides some depth in the OL room.

Feedback: PFF graded out the sixth-round compensatory pick with a C.

Overall draft grade: A-

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