NFL Draft grades: Arizona Cardinals grab high marks for class of 2023, Ossenfort’s first
Apr 30, 2023, 11:52 AM | Updated: 12:07 pm
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
The 2023 NFL Draft concluded Saturday, closing the book on the whirlwind first draft-experience of new general manager Monti Ossenfort with the Arizona Cardinals.
Before the draft even got underway, Ossenfort had to swap third-round picks with the Philadelphia Eagles after he tampered in his pre-hire contacts with head coach Jonathan Gannon.
Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort reflects on his first NFL Draft in his new role following a busy three days of action:
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) April 29, 2023
That move may have been a harbinger of what was to come for the Cardinals, as the franchise moved many picks for those in different slots throughout the draft.
The first few moves were likely the biggest. Arizona dealt No. 3 to the Houston Texans for No. 12 and more assets before using No. 12 and a second-rounder to move back up to No. 6 in a deal with the Detroit Lions.
By the end of the draft, the team made nine selections even though they had seven coming into the draft. Arizona also picked up an additional first-round pick and two third-round picks in next year’s draft.
But how did these picks rate to NFL pundits across the country?
Six of seven national outlets graded the Cardinals with a ‘B+’ or higher. Only one was a ‘D.’
Reasoning: “I liked what Arizona did on Day 1. It added extremely valuable 2024 picks (a first and third) from Houston and got my top-ranked offensive tackle in Paris Johnson Jr. (6), though trading back up to get Johnson cost them another second-rounder. This roster needs a lot of work, and general manager Monti Ossenfort has his work cut out for him … The Cardinals might be rough this season, but there’s hope next year and beyond.”
Reasoning: “Arizona moved down three spots in the first round, essentially netting a 2024 first-round pick and still picking the athletic, versatile Johnson to bolster the line. Ojulari, Williams and Wilson were quality picks at need spots … They also picked up selections with two wise trades on Day 2. The offensive line rebuild continued with the smooth-moving Gaines. The fifth-round run on quarterbacks included Tune, who might be a good backup for Kyler Murray. Getting Clark as a slot corner and Pappoe at linebacker were absolute steals.”
Reasoning: “The Cardinals went into trade down mode to stockpile for new coach Jonathan Gannon and new GM Monti Ossenfort, but this is very underwhelming outside of Ojulari and Williams, including a bit of a forced luxury pick in Johnson (prompted by Kyler Murray). Wilson, Gaines and Tune were shaky selections in the middle, with a mild rebound from Pappoe and Clark.”
Reasoning: “For a team in full prebuilding mode, adding talent while also securing future picks for the acquisition of new players made it a productive and impactful draft for Arizona. First-round selection Paris Johnson Jr. improves Arizona’s pass protection for Kyler Murray. B.J. Ojulari adds juice for a Cardinals pass rush that lost J.J. Watt (retired) and Zach Allen (signed with Denver Broncos in free agency).”
Reasoning: “…Ossenfort did exactly what you’d hope he would do after inheriting a barren, talent-deficient roster. He traded back several times so he could accumulate a bevy of picks—including what could be a high-end first-rounder from Houston in 2024, while also picking up four extra third-rounders, a fourth-rounder, and a fifth-rounder). Overall, this could be a foundation-building draft for a team whose roster has fallen into disrepair over the last few years.”
Reasoning: “Pass rush was a clear need for the Cardinals entering this draft, and Ojulari was one of the better remaining options. He doesn’t have elite traits, but he wins with a deep collection of pass-rush moves and a high motor off the edge … Gaines may not have any particular special skill, but his consistency and balance are much needed in Arizona … Tune earned back-to-back grades above 90.0, and his 79.5% adjusted completion percentage ranked seventh in the country in 2022. With Murray on the mend from a torn ACL, the Cardinals were smart to add a young, developmental piece to the room.”
Reasoning: “New GM Monti Ossenfort quickly got to work, importing nine rookies to a roster that needed a talent infusion. Trading the No. 3 pick to Houston and ultimately winding up with OL Paris Johnson Jr. at No. 6 to protect recuperating QB Kyler Murray – while adding a first-rounder in 2024, among other assets – are indicative of a strong weekend. And Ossenfort might still eventually move WR DeAndre Hopkins to add to next year’s balance sheet.”