Despite trade, Cardinals land Will Anderson in McShay’s 2-round mock draft

Apr 4, 2023, 7:00 PM

Linebacker Will Anderson of Alabama participates in the 40-yard dash during the NFL Combine at Luca...

Linebacker Will Anderson of Alabama participates in the 40-yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 02, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Sitting with the third overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals are in a prime spot to add a generational talent or pick up additional assets for their current rebuild.

In Todd McShay’s latest two-round mock draft released Tuesday, the ESPN analyst has the organization achieving both thanks to a first-round pick swap with the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4.

For Arizona, this is the best-case outcome. The Cards drop only one spot to No. 4, can still draft a dominant defender and pick up something in the ballpark of a third-rounder (No. 79) and a future second-rounder along the way.

And with quarterbacks going off the board 1-2-3, the Cardinals still end up with one of the top talents in the draft class in Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr.

Talk about a win-win.

If new GM Monti Ossenfort wants to turn this ship around, he needs to find a dominant force off the edge who can get after the quarterback. Luckily for the Cards, they land the best one in the class despite moving back a spot. Anderson has real explosion to his game, getting on offensive tackles in an instant and then displaying the power to beat them one-on-one.

With J.J. Watt retired, Markus Golden released and Zach Allen off to Denver, the Cardinals fill a major need for a pass rusher at No. 4.

Anderson is coming off an impressive senior season where he racked up 10 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, an interception he returned for a touchdown and a pass defensed across 13 games in 2022.

It marked another strong year for the linebacker after he amassed 17.5 sacks and 31 tackles for loss the season prior.

McShay has the Cardinals doubling down on adding Alabama talent in the second round with running back Jahmyr Gibbs.

The Cardinals have James Connor, Corey Clement and Keaontay Ingram still on the roster, but Gibbs was a nearly 1,000-yard rusher last season with pass-catching abilities.

James Conner is under contract, but the Cards’ offense is at its best when it rolls out multiple backs who can do a lot of different things. Gibbs is a shifty runner with the suddenness to make defenders miss and a devastating second gear to run away from them once he hits daylight. He not only ran for 926 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022, but also caught 44 passes.

Arizona’s run game was efficient during the first half of 2021 when Connor and Chase Edmonds were healthy and provided different looks. That’s what a Gibbs draft pick would seek to recreate or improve upon.

Gibbs had 44 receptions for 444 yards last season, his first with Alabama after transferring from Georgia Tech.

Arizona has two more Day 2 picks, both in the third round with a compensatory selection from losing WR Christian Kirk last offseason.

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