After a 4-13 season, the Arizona Cardinals approach the offseason attempting to rebuild around the assets they already have. Last season’s record was far from ideal, but it did earn the Cardinals the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. That’s something new general manager Monti Ossenfort can work with. Here we’ll look at the three best players for the Arizona Cardinals to target with their 2023 NFL Draft first-round pick.
The Cardinals are facing a pivotal moment in their future. There’s uncertainty around their next steps. However, with a top-three pick and other valuable picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, they have the potential to make meaningful changes. With eight total selections, including three compensatory picks, the team has an opportunity to acquire much-needed young talent.
Recall that despite their 11-6 record and playoff berth in 2021, the Cardinals were relatively inactive on the trade market last year. That may have contributed to their regression in 2022. However, the third overall pick in the upcoming draft presents a prime opportunity to add game-changing talent to their roster. This is also mainly because of the top quarterback prospects likely to be selected by the two teams ahead of them.
While the addition of new head coach Jonathan Gannon offers hope, the Cardinals may still require a soft reset. This is given their lack of overall talent and depth. Therefore, the team may need more than one high-profile addition to bounce back from a disastrous 2022 season.
Now let’s look at the three best players for the Cardinals to target in the 2023 NFL Draft first-round.
3. Tyree Wilson
Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson has proven to be one of the standout players in college football this past season. Despite being a three-star recruit out of West Rusk High School in Texas, Wilson has been one of the top pass-rushers in the country. Over the past two seasons, he amassed 27.5 tackles for loss and 14.0 sacks. Even though he missed three games in 2022 due to a foot injury that ended his season, he continued to shine on the field.
Wilson is an edge-rusher with a tall and angular build who possesses impressive length and strength. His straight-arm technique is one of his signature moves. Although he is not explosively dynamic off the line of scrimmage, he is smooth and unfazed by chips or contact. Wilson is a consistent worker in defending the run, although he can sometimes struggle to get off blocks. While his handwork could use some improvement, he makes up for it with his tireless effort. He also generates significant power and has a decent ability to bend. Wilson has experience playing inside and has proven to be effective in that position. Overall, he is a long, high-energy, and reasonably refined edge rusher who can play all three downs.
2. Jalen Carter
Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter is considered one of the top prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. That’s regardless of position. Take note, though, that despite being a 6’3, 310-pound force against the run and a disruptive pass rusher, his draft stock may have taken a hit. That’s because of some legal trouble he got into after leaving the scene of a fatal car crash in January. However, he avoided jail time and received probation, a fine, community service, and a driving course.
Jalen Carter really picked up Jayden Daniels with one arm 💪😂
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 3, 2022
Back on the field, though, recall that Carter has been the centerpiece of Georgia’s championship-winning defense over the past two seasons. In fact, he recorded 15.5 tackles for loss and six sacks last 2021. Some even believe he was the best player on that 2021 Georgia defense that had five first-round picks. Though his Pro Day was disappointing, Carter’s talent is undeniable. He remains one of the best defensive prospects in this draft class.
1. Will Anderson Jr.
Now, Will Anderson Jr. of Alabama is considered to be one of the top rookie prospects bar none. Again, that’s regardless of position. Anderson was a five-star prospect coming out of Dutchtown High School in Georgia and quickly established himself as a dominant force along Alabama’s defensive line. He also had a standout season in 2021, leading the nation in tackles for loss and sacks. He even finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting since he was consistently excellent throughout his time with the Crimson Tide. Anderson eventually ended his college career as the program’s second-best player in both tackles for loss and sacks. He’s behind just one guy — Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas.
Originally from outside Atlanta, Will Anderson Jr. has lived up to his hype since joining the Crimson Tide. Over the past two seasons, he has tallied an impressive 98 hurries and 29 sacks. That just showcases his dominance on the field. Widely considered the best Alabama defender in the Nick Saban era, Anderson is a strong candidate to be the best defender out of this draft class.