ESPN Mock Draft: Cardinals rebuild is a go with 1st, 2nd picks

Jul 7, 2023, 10:15 AM

Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans reacts after he threw a touchdown pass against the Stanford C...

Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans reacts after he threw a touchdown pass against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half at Stanford Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

If ESPN’s Jordan Reid has anything to say about it, the Arizona Cardinals’ rebuild will hit warp-speed come the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit.

The prognosticator released his first 2024 NFL mock draft on Thursday. Football Power Index projects the Cardinals on the clock for the first overall pick, and to take action to reshape their team with a franchise-definition position — quarterback.

But that’s not all: FPI projects the Texans to continue to struggle, which is great for the Cardinals, as they own the rights to Houston’s first-round pick in 2024.

So, let’s break down where Reid believes Arizona could go with the first two picks in next year’s NFL Draft, and how that would reshape the franchise.


Reid has Arizona targeting USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the potential No. 1 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft.

The Trojan signal caller threw for 4,537 yards, 42 touchdowns and five interceptions last year on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy.

He threw for 348 yards, three scores and a pick against the local Arizona State Sun Devils in Los Angeles on Oct. 1, and 411 yards and five touchdowns against the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson on Oct. 29. Both were wins for USC.

For a team that had taken a franchise quarterback as recently as 2019, Arizona hitting the reset button so soon could seem a little opportunistic.

Incumbent starting quarterback Kyler Murray is recovering from a torn ACL and his return to the field is uncertain.

Even when he has been in the lineup, the team has struggled.

The 5-foot-10 signal-caller was 3-8 in 2022 before getting injured and is 25-31-1 in his career. He managed just a 14-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio while running for three more scores last season. He ranked 19th in the league in total QBR in 2022.

Fans can take in a quarterback double-dip on the weekend of Sept. 23 when Williams leads the Trojans into Tempe as they take on Arizona State. The next day, the Cardinals will take on the Dallas Cowboys at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

However, who will be under center for the Cardinals remains in question.

According to Spotrac, Murray’s five-year, $230-million extension goes into effect in 2024, but the quarterback is owed just a shade under $160 million in guaranteed money.

Wide receiver

Arizona is also projected to pick second overall in Reid’s draft. The Cardinals are owed a first-round pick from the Houston Texans, following a draft-day trade this season.

Reid slots Ohio State standout Marvin Harrison Jr. to Arizona at No. 2. The 6-foot-4 wideout had 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns on 77 receptions last season, catching passes from C.J. Stroud, the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Harrison Jr. is the son of Marvin Harrison Sr., the Hall of Fame wide receiver who played primarily with the Indianapolis Colts from 1996-2008. He appeared in eight Pro Bowls and was a Super Bowl champion with the 2007 Colts.

With DeAndre Hopkins no longer on the team, Arizona will look to Hollywood Brown as the No. 1 option in the WRs room. The 26-year-old veteran had 67 catches on 107 targets, going for 709 yards and three scores. He was brought in due to familiarity with Murray, as the two played at Oklahoma together.

Rondale Moore and Greg Dortch both took big steps forward in their second seasons in 2002. Moore had 41 catches for 414 yards while Dortch had 52 catches for 467 yards.

Newcomers Michael Wilson and Zach Pascal should also see their fair share of targets in 2023.

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ESPN Mock Draft: Cardinals rebuild is a go with 1st, 2nd picks