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Arizona Cardinals mock draft: 2022 NFL Draft projections and analysis

The Arizona Cardinals are coming off yet another late-season meltdown under head coach Kliff Kingsbury. After starting the season 7-0, Arizona lost six of its final 10 regular-season games. The team was then blown out by the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs.

More than anything, Arizona needs to find a way to draft better under general manager Steve Keim. He’s struggled in this aspect of the job over the past few years.

Before we get into our Arizona Cardinals mock draft, let’s check in on the selections they boast during the annual event in Las Vegas later this week.

Related: 2022 NFL mock draft

2022 Arizona Cardinals draft picks

  • 1st round: 23rd overall
  • 2nd round: 55th overall
  • 3rd round: 87th overall
  • 6th round: 201st and 215th overall
  • 7th round: 242nd, 256th and 257th overall

Arizona Cardinals mock draft: Overcoming recent struggles

arizona cardinals mock draft
Rob Schumacher / The Republic

Despite recently signing extensions, Kingsbury and Keim could very well be on the hot seat should Arizona struggle again in 2022. This team is set up to win now, but has fallen behind Los Angeles and San Francisco in the NFC West.

Heading into the draft, there’s multiple needs on the defensive side of the ball. That includes both edge pass rush and cornerback. Below, we address those needs and more in our initial Arizona Cardinals mock draft.

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1st round, 23rd overall: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

arizona cardinals mock draft: george karlaftis
Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

With Chandler Jones having moved on to the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency, these Cardinals find themselves in a precarious position out on the edge. J.J. Watt is coming off another injury-plagued season. Sure the team has Markus Golden (11.5 sacks in 2021), but it needs more young talent.

That’s why Arizona must target a young edge rusher in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Enter into the equation this talented pass rusher from Purdue. Karlaftis recorded 29 tackles for loss and 14 sacks in three seasons with the Boilermakers. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound defensive end already boasts plus-level pass-rush technique and is seen as pro-ready. He’s also a perfect fit in Arizona’s scheme under defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

Related: Ranking 2022 NFL Draft prospects

2nd round, 55th overall: Roger McCreary, cornerback, Auburn

arizona cardinals mock draft: roger mccreary
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

As for a fit with the Cardinals, they have an obvious need at corner opposite Byron Murphy. A fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Marco Wilson struggled big time as a rookie (120.8 passer rating when targeted). Going up against the likes of Matthew Stafford and Trey Lance in the NFC West, Arizona simply needs more talent in its defensive backfield.

The 5-foot-11 McCreary would change this in a big way. He can play both the slot and out on the boundary. The former Auburn star also boasts an ability in both press and man coverage. Last season with the Tigers, he recorded 14 passes defended and two interceptions.

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3rd round, 87th overall: Jeremy Ruckert, tight end, Ohio State

NCAA Football: Penn State at Ohio State
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, Ruckert was a mismatch waiting to happen for the Buckeyes. While the team didn’t necessarily take advantage of it, there’s a lot to like about his game. Primarily, he’s seen as an elite-level red-zone threat. That’s something Kyler Murray needs moving forward should he return to Arizona.

As for Arizona, the team traded for Zach Ertz last year and has been attempting to find Murray that go-to tight end. Adding Ruckert to the mix would create a new dynamic for Arizona’s potentially dominant offense.

Related: Find out where the Arizona Cardinals stand in our NFL power rankings

Rounding out the Arizona Cardinals mock draft

  • 6th round, 201st overall: Tyquan Thornton, wide receiver, Baylor
  • 6th round, 215th overall: James Empey, guard, Baylor
  • 7th round, 242nd overall: Chance Campbell, linebacker, Mississippi
  • 7th round, 256th overall: Zonovan Knight, running back, North Carolina State
  • 7th round, 257th overall: Christopher Hinton, defensive tackle, Michigan

Let us know what you think about our Arizona Cardinals mock draft in the comments section below.