Heading into the 2022 season, expectations were sky-high for Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. With Kliff Kinsbury leading the charge, this team was meant to build on a strong 2021 season. But instead, this team headed in a different direction.
The Cardinals finished this past season with a 4-13 record and in last place in the NFC West. Unfortunately for this team, there was never a point when they were at full force. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins underwent a six-game suspension, and wide receiver Marquise Brown missed five games with an injury. Along with this, Kyler Murray suffered a torn ACL.
In the end, the Cardinals chose to part ways with Kingsbury. With their Head Coach search now underway, this team will likely look very different come the start of the 2023 season.
This offseason, the Cardinals will look to retool their roster. With Murray suffering his injury, he will likely be sidelined for the start of the season. This could lead to the Cardinals looking at next season as some sort of a rebuild. With the team locking up the third overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, they will likely find a foundational building block with their selection.
The Cardinals have needs on both sides of the ball. But two key areas of focus could be along both the offensive and defensive line.
With this draft class boasting elite talent in the trenches, the Cardinals will be able to find a star with the third overall pick. Here are three players the team should have at the top of their draft board.
3. Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech
With such a loaded defensive class, Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson could prove to be the odd man out. But he has the sort of talent that can elevate any defense in the NFL.
Over his four seasons at Texas Tech, Wilson has appeared in 35 total games. When on the field, he has been a disruptor. In total, he has recorded 121 total tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 17 total sacks, and one forced fumble.
After one season at Texas A&M, Wilson transferred to Texas Tech. Over the past two seasons, Wilson was able to find his footing. During this stretch, he took the field in 23 total games. While looking like a star, he recorded 99 total tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss, and 14 total sacks.
At 6-6 and 275 pounds, Wilson can give any blocker problems. He can make his presence felt both against the run and the pass. He has also proven that he can play both in the interior and on the edge of the defensive line.
While the Cardinals likely won’t look to Wilson with the third overall pick, he could be an intriguing option. He should at least be on their radar.
2. Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter may very well be the best player in this year’s class. And he has the sort of skill set that would give the Cardinals defense just what they need.
During his freshman season in 2020, Carter showed flashes of how good he could be. While taking the field in eight games, he recorded 14 total tackles and three tackles for loss.
After a strong first season, Carter took major strides in year two. He finished the year appearing in 14 total games. He recorded 37 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and three total sacks.
This past season, Carter once again put together an elite season. After losing several major starters to the NFL draft, he was one of the few remaining stars from the 2021 season. But with his efforts, this unit once again looked dominant. He recorded 32 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, and three sacks while often being double-teamed.
With the addition of Carter, the Cardinals would have a force in the middle of their defense. He could very well play a similar role to that of Philadelphia Eagles rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis.
If the Cardinals are looking for a player who could be the face of their defense, Carter could be just that.
1. Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama
There is a legitimate chance that Alabama’s Will Anderson will be the first player taken in this year’s draft. He has superstar potential, and could quickly develop into an elite talent at the next level.
During his three seasons at Alabama, Anderson put together one of the more impressive resumes in recent history. While taking the field in 41 total games, he stuffed the stat sheet. In total, he recorded 204 total tackles, 58.5 tackles for loss, and 34.5 total sacks.
In 2021, Anderson put together maybe the greatest defensive season for any college player ever. He finished the year with 101 total tackles, 31 tackles for loss, and 17.5 total sacks.
Given that Anderson can even remotely play at a similar level to what he did in college, he will be a star at the next level. If he is on the board when the Cardinals pick at three, he should be the selection.
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