Cardinals select UCLA OL Jon Gaines II with 122nd pick in NFL Draft
Apr 29, 2023, 10:17 AM | Updated: 5:24 pm
(Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Arizona Cardinals added another prospect to the offensive line in the 2023 NFL Draft, selecting UCLA offensive lineman Jon Gaines II with the 122nd overall pick.
The 6-foot-4, 303-pound offensive lineman heads to the desert after five seasons at UCLA. He was primarily used as a guard but did play four games — including two starts — at center from 2020-21. He also served as both a left guard and center at the East-West Shrine Bowl.
“UCLA blessed me with the opportunity to play all across the offensive line, to have a lot of snaps at a lot of different positions. I am excited to add versatility. I feel I can play anything,” Gaines said.
The pick marks the second used on revamping the offensive line following the team’s addition of former Ohio State lineman Paris Johnson at sixth overall during Round 1 of the draft on Thursday night.
The offensive line was among the positional priorities for the Cardinals this offseason.
Arizona has three starters returning to the mix in D.J. Humphries, Will Hernandez and Kelvin Beachum. It could also see a good amount of Josh Jones in 2023 following a strong showing at left tackle last year in addition to Johnson being tossed into the mix from the jump.
Johnson has inside-outside versatility, and Ossenfort said the team will try the rookie in different spots to find the best five.
The jury is out as to who will step up and command the left guard and center spots with Justin Pugh a free agent and Rodney Hudson heading into retirement.
The Cardinals went out and added a couple of potential starting options at guard in Dennis Daley, Elijah Wilkinson and Hjalte Froholdt, who is also in the mix at center.
Arizona also has Lecitus Smith coming off a 10-game rookie season and Marquis Hayes still looking for his first real taste of the NFL after spending 2022 on injured reserve who could fill a role.
It’s already been an eventful draft for first-year general manager Monti Ossenfort, who pulled off a pair of trades during the first round on Thursday night, nabbing Johnson and additional draft capital along the way.
Ossenfort started his wheeling and dealing in a trade with the Houston Texans that saw Arizona send out pick Nos. 3 and 105 in exchange for Nos. 12 and 33 on top of a 2024 first- and third-rounder.
From there, Ossenfort got on the phone with the Detroit Lions, who sent Nos. 6 and 81 to the Cardinals for pick Nos. 12, 34 and 168.
He wasn’t done, either, dealing pick Nos. 33 and 81 on Friday in exchange for Nos. 41 and 72 in addition to a 2024 third-rounder. Arizona used the 41st pick on LSU edge defender BJ Ojulari and the 72nd pick on Syracuse CB Garrett Williams.
Then came Ossenfort’s final move of Day 2, a deal with the Tennessee Titans that returned Nos. 122, 139 and 168 for No. 96.
There was, however, another trade facilitated by the Cardinals this draft, albeit for a different reason.
Moments before the draft began, the Cardinals and Eagles settled a tampering investigation involving the recruitment of former Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon as Arizona’s new head coach, the teams announced. The deal centered around the Cardinals agreeing to swap third-round picks (Arizona’s No. 66 and Philadelphia’s No. 94) in 2023. The Cardinals also received the Eagles’ fifth-round selection in 2024.
With the swapped No. 94 pick, Arizona turned around and added Stanford wide receiver Mike Wilson.