Cardinals Corner: Ranking the rookies’ levels of importance now, in the future

Jul 5, 2023, 12:30 PM | Updated: 12:51 pm

From Paris Johnson Jr. at No. 6 overall to Dante Stills at No. 213, the Arizona Cardinals attacked multiple positions of need with players that exude what general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon call “football character.”

So far this offseason, that attribute has largely been on display for a majority of the rookie class.

But when it comes down to overall importance, which rookies project to make the biggest impact now and down the line?

Taking the present and future outlook of each into account, Cardinals Corner podcast co-hosts Tyler Drake and Erik Ruby share their thoughts:

2023 Cardinals rookie rankings

No. 9

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Drake: Linebacker Owen Pappoe

Ruby: Defensive lineman Dante Stills

Pappoe has his work cut out for him if he figures to make an impact right away defensively, with veterans Kyzir White, Krys Barnes and Josh Woods all vying for playing time.

Pappoe is an athletic specimen. I won’t be surprised when he has an impressive special teams play or two. But defensively, it’s going to be a climb this year and beyond. — Drake

No. 8

Kei'Trel Clark

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

Drake & Ruby: Cornerback Kei’Trel Clark

The thing with Clark that I really like is his mentality. I like that off the field he seems very committed to be a better person. — Ruby

No. 7

Clayton Tune

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

Drake & Ruby: Quarterback Clayton Tune

What moved him up over the last few guys for me is the fact that he can potentially be that replica mobile quarterback that you need to see what this offense can be until Kyler Murray returns. That deserves a little extra bump from me — Drake

No. 6

Dante Stills

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

Drake: Defensive lineman Dante Stills

Ruby: Linebacker Owen Pappoe

There is a very real chance Stills will end up being the team’s darkhorse rookie in 2023.

There are spots open for the taking along the interior of the defensive line. The expectation Arizona is going to roll out a 4-3 defense only helps Stills’ chances at making an impact from the get-go.

A strong showing in training camp could shoot Stills up the depth chart. — Drake

No. 5

Garrett Williams signs rookie contract

(Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

Drake: Offensive lineman Jon Gaines II

Ruby: Cornerback Garrett Williams

It’s the ACL injury that holds me back a little bit but when you hear Williams talk about football, he really knows what he’s doing. Who knows, that Cardinals secondary might need some help in a little bit. — Ruby

No. 4

Jon Gaines II could be an option at center for the Cardinals

(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Drake: Cornerback Garrett Williams

Ruby: Offensive lineman Jon Gaines II

There is a chance he’s their starting center at some point this season. If he does well, he’s their starting center for the next couple years on a cheap rookie deal. He played a lot of positions at UCLA. Smart guy. Another person with football character. — Ruby

No. 3

BJ Ojulari at Cardinals rookie minicamp

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

Drake & Ruby: Linebacker BJ Ojulari

There’s an unproven pass rush on this team and from everything defensive coordinator Nick Rallis and head coach Jonathan Gannon have talked about, Ojulari seems like he can be the guy that can come in and really make an impact right away. They picked him with the thought that he can be a game changer for the Cardinals defensively. — Drake

No. 2

Michael Wilson during OTAs

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

Drake & Ruby: Wide receiver Michael Wilson

He is somebody that from the moment I started watching his tape when the Cardinals picked him, I immediately gravitated to him as somebody who can make plays. I’ve been singing his praises for awhile. And he’s one of Arizona’s biggest receivers. — Ruby

No. 1

Paris Johnson signs rookie contract

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

Drake & Ruby: Offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr.

When you’re paying your quarterback that much, you better have a big bodyguard to help him out. That’s what the Cardinals did. Not only that, Murray wanted him. He started his foundation in high school and he’s already giving back in Arizona. He seems like he’s been in the league 2-3 years already just from talking to him and seeing him on the practice field.

He’s a guy that is going to come in and make an impact right away and be that cornerstone along the offensive line for seasons to come. — Drake


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