The 2023 Arizona Cardinals draft starts with the third overall pick as new general manager Monti Ossenfort looks to help this team right the ship after an ugly 2022 season.
The backdrop here is Jonathan Gannon replacing the recently fired Kliff Kingsbury as head coach. Quarterback Kyler Murray’s current rehab from a torn ACL he suffered last season is another major storyline.
With all of this in mind, let’s check in on our initial seven-round Arizona Cardinals mock draft for the annual event in Kansas City later this spring.
Arizona Cardinals draft needs 2023
Heading into the 2023 offseason, prior to NFL free agency, here are the Arizona Cardinals draft needs.
- Offensive tackle
- Running back
- Wide receiver
Arizona Cardinals draft picks
- Round 1, 3rd overall
- Round 2, 34th overall
- Round 3, 66th overall
- Round 3, 96th overall
- Round 4, 105th overall
- Round 5, 169th overall
- Round 6, 180th overall
- Round 6, 213th overall
Related: Sportsnaut’s 2023 NFL mock draft
Arizona Cardinals mock draft: Balancing need and value
Sportsnaut used Pro Football Focus’ NFL Draft simulator, which provides the flexibility to trade and work through a variety of scenarios. Let’s dive into our Cardinals mock draft.
Round 1, 9th overall: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
- TRADE: Arizona Cardinals trade 3rd overall pick to the Carolina Panthers for 9th pick, 2nd-round pick, 3rd-round pick and 2024 1st-round pick
New Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort doesn’t really have much of a choice when it comes to the quarterback position. Kyler Murray is going to be QB1 for the foreseeable future. At least from a team-planning perspective, this will help Arizona in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Assuming one of Jalen Carter or Will Anderson go within the top-two picks, the Cards will likely be offered up a ton to move down from three. They are reportedly willing to listen to pitches. Heck, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson become options at three for teams in a trade up if it’s Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud at the top of the draft.
In this scenario, Arizona moves down six spots to No. 9 overall while picking up three valuable draft picks to help Ossenfort rebuild an underperforming roster.
In Witherspoon, Arizona would be acquiring the top corner in the draft and a potential Day 1 contributor. His ball-hawking ability and aggressive style fits in well with what new head coach Jonathan Gannon likes to do on defense. For a Cardinals team that yielded a 70% completion mark and 98.2 QB rating a season ago, this is certainly a necessity.
Related: 2023 NFL Draft order
Round 2, 34th overall: Will McDonald, EDGE, Iowa State
The retirement of future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt adds to a plethora of pass-rush issues for a Cardinals team that racked up a mere 36 sacks a season ago. In terms of players who are under contract, Isaiah Simmons is Arizona’s leading returning sack getter with four a season ago.
We know how much Gannon requires on the pass rush dating back to his recent stint was the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator. McDonald (6-foot-4, 245-pounds) is a hybrid type that would fit well. Over the course of his final three seasons with the Cyclones, McDonald registered 33.5 tackles for loss and 27 sacks. He’s also of similar build to Eagles edge rusher Josh Sweat who excelled under Gannon (11 sacks) last season.
Round 2, 39th overall: Nathaniel Dell, WR, Houston
It’s safe to assume that Arizona is going to trade Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins this coming offseason. Owner Michael Bidwell calls the shots with finances, and doesn’t believe that the veteran has a future in the desert. With A.J. Green having retired and Greg Dortch set to hit restricted free agency, there’s a need here.
The 5-foot-10 Dell is seen as an explosive athlete with a tremendous ability to rack up yards after the catch. Last season with Houston, he recorded 109 receptions for 1,398 yards and 17 touchdowns. Dell would be a perfect fit next to Marquise Brown in Arizona with one of the picks acquired in the hypothetical blockbuster earlier in this Arizona Cardinals mock draft.
Round 2, 61st overall: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
Even with Arizona having added an edge rusher earlier in this mock, it makes perfect sense for Ossenfort to double down. He does just that with a seasoned player in that of Foskey who excelled over the past two seasons with Notre Dame (23 QB hits, 20.5 sacks).
The 6-foot-5, 262-pound Foskey is more of your typical big edge guy to go opposite the aforementioned McDonald. Despite his size, Foskey has solid agility on the outside and combines pro-ready pass-rush technique to stand out on tape. This would be a home run selection for Arizona.
Round 3, 66th overall: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
You didn’t think we forgot about the all-important offensive tackle position, right? Arizona quarterbacks were sacked 46 times a season ago despite Kyler Murray’s escapability. In fact, Murray was pressured at the eighth-highest rate among NFL quarterbacks before he suffered a torn ACL late in the season.
That’s where Wright could come into play in Round 3. The former five-star recruit boasts solid balance for someone his size (6-foot-5, 342 pounds) and was a full-time starter in front of Hendon Hooker for Tennessee last season. He translates to right tackle, which is a definite need for Arizona with the surplus of pass-rush talent the NFC West boasts.
Round 3, 96th overall: Jaylon Jones, CB, Texas A&M
Our Cardinals draft has them doubling down at both cornerback and out on the edge. For good reason. While Arizona’s pass rush struggled a season ago, its cornerback play wasn’t much better. In particular, Byron Murphy (63.8% completion, 103.1 QB rating) did not live up to his billing.
It’s in this that Arizona targets a high-upside cover guy in the 6-foot-2 Jones with the second of its two third-round selections. Last season at Texas A&M saw him prove that his skill set translates well to the NFL level. Jones’ physicality stands out, but his size doesn’t impact fluidity out on the boundary and can be used in bump/run coverage, something that Gannon likes to run.
Arizona Cardinals mock draft results
- Round 1, 9th overall: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
- Round 2, 34th overall: Will McDonald, EDGE, Iowa State
- Round 2, 39th overall: Nathaniel Dell, WR, Houston
- Round 2, 61st overall: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
- Round 3, 66th overall: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
- Round 3, 96th overall: Jaylon Jones, CB, Texas A&M
- Round 4, 105th overall: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
- Round 5, 169th overall: Emil Ekiyor Jr., G, Alabama
- Round 6, 180th overall: Kenny McIntosh, RB, Georgia
- Round 6, 213th overall: Jaren Hall, QB, BYU