Cardinals address 2 big defensive needs in Mel Kiper Jr.’s 2-round NFL mock draft

Apr 11, 2024, 9:19 AM

Darius Robinson makes a tackle...

Defensive lineman Darius Robinson #6 of the Missouri Tigers tackles running back Deuce Vaughn #22 of the Kansas State Wildcats during the first half at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

(Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. hasn’t changed up his thinking when it comes to the Arizona Cardinals’ fourth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

In three consecutive mock drafts, Kiper has Arizona landing Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. with the No. 4 pick.

As for Arizona’s No. 27th overall pick, there’s been a bit of a debate to be had between a couple of pass rushers in Missouri’s Darius Robinson and Penn State’s Chop Robinson.

But in his latest mock draft published Wednesday, Kiper has Darius Robinson heading to the desert just one pick later than his counterpart in the first round.

Robinson was one of the best prospects at the Senior Bowl in early February; he overpowered blockers in one-on-one drills. At 6-5, 285 pounds, he’s a tweener between end and tackle, but he should take snaps at both positions at the next level. That versatility is valuable.

You had Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon at “versatility,” Kiper.

Robinson’s final season at Missouri was easily his best, with the pass rusher registering 8.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in 12 games played. He also forced a fumble.

The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder’s turned more heads during the week of the Senior Bowl before posting a 4.95-second 40-yard dash time and a 35-inch vertical at the NFL Draft Combine.

Getting added pass-rushing talent could go a long way in the Cardinals improving a defense that ranked 30th in sacks (33) and 31st in opposing passer rating (102.9).

The defensive revamp doesn’t stop there in Kiper’s two-round mock draft, either, with the analyst adding to Arizona’s secondary in the form of Iowa State cornerback T.J. Tampa with the No. 35 overall pick.

I’m a big fan of Tampa. He’s fast, physical, experienced — he started 29 games in his career — and has long arms for his 6-1 frame. The Cardinals brought in Sean Murphy-Bunting this offseason but have to add more talent at cornerback. Tampa likely would slot in as a starter on the outside, which would give Arizona three impact players with its top three selections.

Tampa spent four years at Iowa State, registering 44 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defensed across 12 games.

He primarily played out wide throughout his four seasons as a Cyclone.

Despite adding Murphy-Bunting, Arizona could still use added cornerback help in a room that features a trio of second-year pros in Kei’Trel Clark, Garrett Williams and Starling Thomas V.

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Cardinals address 2 big defensive needs in Mel Kiper Jr.’s 2-round NFL mock draft