As of this writing, the Arizona Cardinals own the 3rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. After that, they have seven more picks to go. There are many ways these picks can go, of course, but they could surely use more depth on their roster. Here we’ll look at three bold predictions for the Cardinals in the 2023 NFL Draft, including drafting Will Anderson
In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Cardinals selected nine players. Eight of them played in at least seven games. These players are tight end Trey McBride and defensive ends Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders. There was also running back Keaontay Ingram, offensive lineman Lecitus Smith, defensive back Christian Matthew, and linebacker Jesse Luketa. However, only McBride started every game in his rookie season.
As the 2023 NFL Draft approaches, we may see the same thing as the Cardinals adding more youth to their roster. They do need players in various positions such as the secondary, running back, wide receiver, and both lines.
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Let’s look at three bold predictions for the Cardinals in the draft.
1. Cardinals surprise nobody by picking Will Anderson
The majority of NFL mock drafts predict that the Cardinals will select Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. They will likely take him with the third pick unless a trade occurs. Due to the quarterbacks being highly sought-after in this draft, a trade is possible. However, Anderson Jr. is seen as a safe pick. He is highly rated on most draft boards and has an impressive track record, with 34.5 sacks and 58.5 tackles for a loss in his college career.
Although Anderson Jr.’s statistics dropped off slightly in the 2022 season, he is still a highly talented player. He also appears to be a person with impeccable character, making him an ideal pick for the Cardinals. As the team searches for players who fit both requirements, Anderson Jr. could be the perfect combination of talent and character.
Keep in mind also that the Cardinals need a replacement for JJ Watt, who is considered a legend in the NFL. Although Watt had a strong comeback season in 2022, he is getting older and may not play at his previous level for much longer. Anderson Jr. could fill Watt’s role as a standup outside linebacker. He has the potential to achieve double-digit sacks in the upcoming season. With this in mind, the Cardinals could benefit greatly from selecting Anderson Jr. with their first-round pick.
Nick Saban keeps Will Anderson Jr. in high regard 🙌
"I have never heard [Nick Saban] speak about a player like he did Will Anderson. … I'm gonna trust Nick Saban and I'm gonna take Will Anderson and sleep real well." —@McShay13 pic.twitter.com/fwu86yeVwN
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 19, 2023
2. Cardinals offensive line gets a boost
The Cardinals are going through significant roster changes, especially in their offensive line. Recall that several of their starting linemen left in free agency. The center position is one of the Cardinals’ most significant voids, with Hjalte Froholdt, who is seen as a backup-level player, being the only option. To address this, the Cardinals may look to the 2023 NFL Draft to add young talent. As such, John Michael Schmitz, a highly rated center prospect from Minnesota, should be a target for them. Schmitz is known for his run-blocking ability and could provide the Cardinals with a much-needed boost in their interior pass protection.
Schmitz was a three-star recruit out of Illinois, where he was considered one of the top-10 center prospects nationally. He started as a reserve in his freshman year, then became a starter the following year, where he played four out of 13 games as the center. In 2020, Schmitz started six games. He also earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. In his senior year, Schmitz started in all 13 games. He was named second-team All-Big Ten Conference. In 2022, Schmitz returned for a sixth season. That’s when he was named first-team Associated Press All-American and earned all-conference honors in his 12 starts.
3. Eli Ricks joins the Cardinals’ secondary
Due to the departure of Byron Murphy in free agency, the Cardinals need a cornerback. They should address this position in the draft. One option for them is Eli Ricks. He is a good value prospect with an impressive combination of size, strength, and speed.
At 6’2 and 188 pounds, Ricks has a tall frame and near-elite length. This allows him to have a wide disruption radius. He is known for his physicality at the line of scrimmage, as he uses his length to shock receivers and delay their releases. Stingley also fully extends on jams, generating force inside his opponent’s torso.
Sure, he may need some time to adjust before he can start. Still, Ricks has the potential to be a solid starting cornerback with his physical talent and edge.