Background: Jan 2, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (3) tackles Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz (86) in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman
The Arizona Cardinals love their University of Washington defensive backs in safety Budda Baker, cornerback Byron Murphy and special teams ace Ezekiel Turner.
After all, the University of Washington is aptly called “DB U.”
The question is —- could another U-DUB DB or two be on their way to Arizona is 2022?
This week the Cardinals should get another good look at the Seahawks’ CB Sidney Jones, whom several of us have had our eye on as a UFA. Jones is having a good year (65.8 PFF overall grade, 68.6 run defense, 73.1 tackling and 64.0 coverage). Perhaps, Jones will want to join Budda and Byron in Arizona this year.
In the upcoming NFL Draft, there are two standout Husky CBs in Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon. McDuffie, to me, looks like the Budda Baker of CBs. Yesterday, in the comments of my “Tweezy Does It” article, I offered an early 3 round mock for the Cardinals:
- Round 1. Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington. This kid is the Budda Baker of CBs. Would love to keep building on the Cardinals’ Washington connection by adding McDuffie or his outstanding teammate Kyler Gordon, plus singing CB Sydney Jones as a UFA.
- Round 2. Zion Johnson, G, Boston College. Most dominant guard I have seen at BC since Pete Kendall.
- Round 3. Travis Jones, DT, UConn. At 6-5, 334, Jones is a mammoth NT with surprisingly good feet.
To which, CardsDynasty replied:
“I love your draft choices. My only exception would be McDuffie’s size at 5’11 195.. will he be able to cover the elite tall receivers on the outside ?, which is something Byron Murphy has struggled with towards the later part of the this szn. I personally would prefer Cardinals to target his outstanding teammate Kyler Gordon in R2 and take Zion Johnson in R1 to avoid missing out on him, as another team might take him in the early part of R2.
I have same selection in R3 as as you have in T. Jones, a big mammoth two gap NT who can keep the guards off our dynamic tree trunk of ILB duo (Collins & Simmons) and allow them to shoot the gaps with speed and play free.
Would love to hear your thoughts, Walter?”
Actually one of the impressive aspects of Trent McDuffie’s game is his ability to cover WRs of all sizes. His explosiveness, speed and vertical jump make him a threat versus all WRs. This past season, he was targeted 36 times and only gave up 16 receptions for 111 yards. His QBR was 51.0.
Have you seen McDuffie tackle? In 27 career games at Washington, the dude only missed 6 tackles.
This is an excellent breakdown of Trent McDuffie’s techniques and superior, quick-twitch game:
Pro Football Network wrote this about him, even before his stellar 2021 season:
“Hyperbole aside, McDuffie is truly in the highest tier athletically. His elite explosiveness is visible in multiple phases. He has searing quickness charging the backfield, and he also has the vertical burst to rise up for high passes. His explosiveness translates to spry, sudden feet at the line of scrimmage. Furthermore, McDuffie is a quick-twitch athlete with a ton of potential energy stored in his frame. He owns the lateral suddenness to slip past blocks, and his twitch and explosion allow him to recover ground against double moves swiftly.
Beyond his explosiveness, McDuffie’s athletic profile remains strong. He’s fluid flipping his hips upfield, and he has the long speed to stick to receivers’ hip pockets. Additionally, McDuffie channels his athletic traits very well. He transfers his weight with ease, stacking feet motions effortlessly. His footwork is effervescent, composed, and meticulous. It allows him to use his athleticism with dangerous efficiency.”
PFF ranks him as their #2 CB behind Derek Stingley Jr. McDuffie is #12 on their Big Board. Sauce Gardner (Cincinnati) is #27, #5 CB behind Stingley (LSU), McDuffie (Washington), Kaiir Elam (Florida) and Roger McCreary (Auburn).
Now --- this is why I believe that 2022 is THE year the Cardinals should draft a CB in Round 1. Any of the top 6 CBs in this draft (the 5 above plus Washington’s Kyler Gordon) would be a boon for the Cardinals. None of these CB studs will be on the board when the Cardinals pick in Round 2.
Take a look at Kyler Gordon’s sticky coverage:
Will the Cardinals create another DB U draft tandem by drafting Bearcat CB Sauce Gardner to join S James Wiggins? Or by drafting Gator CB Kaiir Elam to join Marco Wilson?
As much as I love G Zion Johnson, I do not believe he is a top 50 player in this draft. That is not to disparage Johnson, it’s because this draft is loaded, particularly at CB, Edge, T, WR and LB and while top guards tend to show up in the 1st and early second round of a number of mock drafts, most of the best guards are still on the board in the latter half of the second round or anywhere in the 3rd round. Last year, the first true guard taken was Aaron Banks at pick #48. The next two were Wyatt Davis at #86 and Ben Cleveland at #94.
I am a little hesitant about the Cardinals drafting an OL high because of how much Sean Kugler depends on veterans --- which is why I think the Cardinals will work out a new, more affordable contract with Justin Pugh and they will make a strong pitch to sign a UFA like Mark Glowinski (Colts) in free agency.
The big NT Travis Jones from UConn would be very appealing if he’s still on the board in Round 3. Although, there are so many good UFA DTs this year. The Cardinals should be able to sign one of them. Plus the way Rashard Lawrence and Leki Fotu are coming on in recent weeks, may allow the Cardinals to wait until Day 3 to draft another DT.
What we haven’t talked about yet is what the Cardinals will do on the edge. What are your (and everyone’s) thoughts about that? I will chime in with my thoughts after considering all of yours. Do you think the Cardinals will be able to re-sign Chandler Jones? Do you think the Cardinals will place the franchise or transition tag on Chan? Should they? Will the Cardinals re-sign Dennis Gardeck? Could the Cardinals move Isaiah Simmons or Zaven Collins to OLB? Will they remain committed to Devon Kennard?