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Arizona Cardinals Mock Draft 2.0: Cards bolster their offensive line and land a speedy pass rusher in the second round

Cardinals fill their draft pick gap between rounds three and six with trade downs

NFL Draft Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Last month, I posted my first mock draft of the season on Revenge of the Birds with Alabama receiver Jameson Williams and Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal as the Arizona Cardinals’ top two selections in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Fast forward to the end of March, I am taking a different approach in this mock draft 2.0. Some needs are satisfied but holes still remain on the roster with the Cardinals lack of new free agent acquisitions.

Without further ado, here is my second mock draft on ROTB with the use of the Pro Football Focus mock draft simulator:

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 Colgate at Boston College Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 1 (26): Zion Johnson - Guard, Boston College (from Titans)

Mock Trade (trade down): Cardinals’ 2022 first-round pick (No. 23) for Titans’ 2022 first-round (No. 26), fourth-round (No. 131), and fifth-round (No. 169) picks

The Arizona Cardinals do not have a fourth or fifth-round pick. That changes here as I have the Cardinals trading down with the Tennessee Titans due to the fact most of the projected first-round wide receiver prospects were off the board by pick No. 23. I prioritized Kyler Murray’s protection here with the selection of Boston College’s Zion Johnson. He has all the tools and athletic traits to excel at the professional level with only six pressures allowed in 2021.

Johnson would start at right guard which would allow Josh Jones to focus solely on playing offensive tackle as he competes with Kelvin Beachum for the starting right tackle job. If Will Hernandez, who visited Arizona last week, signs with the Cardinals, he should move back to his best position at left guard to backup Justin Pugh with the possibility of starting in 2023.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 30 Texas Tech at Oklahoma Photo by David Stacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 2 (55): Nik Bonitto - Outside Linebacker/EDGE, Oklahoma

Nik Bonitto has the third-highest career pass rush grade (94) by a Power 5 EDGE rusher in Pro Football Focus history.

Bonitto tested exceptionally well at the NFL Combine with a blazing 4.54 40-yard dash and a 35.5-inch vertical jump. He had 26.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks over the last two years as an Oklahoma Sooner. Cardinals are in need of a pass rusher with Chandler Jones signing with the Las Vegas Raiders and Bonitto would give Arizona just that. Arizona re-signed Dennis Gardeck to a three-year $12 million contract but he did not record a sack last year. Devon Kennard restructured his contract but also had no sacks in 2021. With that said, Bonitto would make an immediate impact day one to pair with Markus Golden, who had 11 sacks last year, if selected by the Cardinals.

Virginia Tech v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Round 3 (98): Jelani Woods - Tight End, Virginia (from Saints)

Mock Trade (trade down): Cardinals’ 2022 third-round pick (No. 87) for Saints’ 2022 third-round (No. 98) and fourth-round (No. 120) picks

No player in the NFL Draft raised their draft stock as much as Jelani Woods, who put himself on every NFL team radar by putting on a clinic at the NFL Combine and Virginia Pro Day. I traded down with the New Orleans Saints and was still able to land this incredible talent. Woods ran a 4.61 40-yard dash and had 24 bench press reps at the combine. He further impressed scouts by leading all 2022 tight end prospects with a 37.5” vertical jump, 10.9” broad jump, 6.78 seconds in the 3 Cone Drill and 4.2 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle during his Pro Day. Combo that with his size (6’7’’ 259lbs) and 2021 production (eight touchdowns) should make him a potential future star in the NFL. Cardinals already have Zach Ertz and Maxx Williams but let’s give Kyler Murray another redzone threat with tremendous upside. I doubt he lasts this long though.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 4 (120): Romeo Doubs - Wide Receiver, Nevada (from Saints)

Doubs was a dynamic wide receiver at Nevada, posting consecutive 1000-yard seasons over the last two years as Carson Strong’s go-to target. Expecting a fourth-round pick to carry to load as a starting receiver in the first year in the NFL is difficult to imagine but his tape says it all. Doubs is a playmaker with height (6’2’’ 200lbs) that exceeded expectations against his level of competition over the last two years. I fully expect the Cardinals to add a veteran No. 2 wide receiver in free agency if a wideout is not chosen by them in the first round.

Tulsa v Cincinnati Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Round 4 (131): Jerome Ford - Running Back, Cincinnati (from Titans)

Chose him in my last mock draft and my opinions of him have not changed.

The running back out of Cincinnati had a monstrous 2021 season as he led the Bearcats with 1,319 rushing yards, 220 receiving yards, and 20 total touchdowns while averaging 6.1 yards per carry. He is an explosive running back with real homerun speed used often in inside zone run formations that Kliff Kingsbury loves to dial up. Cardinals can retain their thunder in Conner and pair him up with lightning in Ford. At 5-feet-11 210 pounds, he is bigger, faster, and stronger than Chase Edmonds who signed with the Miami Dolphins. With only 319 carries in his college career, Ford does not have much mileage either

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 21 Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl - UTSA v San Diego State Photo by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 5 (169): Matt Araiza - Punter, San Diego State (from Titans)

Ariaza is a generational-type talent as a punter with is crazy leg strength to punt a ball from one end of the field to the other with accuracy. He averaged a college-football-best 51.2 yards per punt in 2021 and converted 50-of-68 field goals in his three years at San Diego State. Andy Lee re-signed with the Cardinals but that should not stop Arizona from searching for his replacement. Lee could most definitely give Araiza a pointer or two as one of the best punters in the NFL over the last two decades.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Vrbo Citrus Bowl - Iowa v Kentucky Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 6 (201): Marquan McCall - Nose Tackle, Kentucky

The Cardinals need a space-eating nose tackle to shore up their run defense, which was exposed one too many times last year. With Jordan Davis and Travis Jones off the board in the first two rounds, I waited until later in the draft to satisfy the nose tackle position with Kentucky’s Marquan McCall. He is a massive human being standing at 6-feet-3 342 pounds and stood out in the East-West Shrine Bowl. Nose tackles rarely put up huge numbers on the stat sheet and his 57 tackles over four years is nothing to really brag about. Vance Joseph’s defense has been missing that run plugger on their defensive line and hopefully McCall can answer the call if chosen by Arizona.

Michigan v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Round 6 (215): Brad Hawkins - Safety, Michigan (compensatory pick - Kenyan Drake)

The Cardinals did not re-sign either of their veterans special team safeties in Chris Banjo and Charles Washington with the expectation that last year’s seventh-round pick James Wiggins will be one of their replacements. Here, I have Arizona taking Michigan’s Brad Hawkins, who has respectable speed (4.57 40) and strength (20 bench press reps), to pair up with Wiggins on special teams. In 421 coverage snaps according to Pro Football Focus last year, Hawkins allowed only four catches but had no interceptions in his collegiate career. His size (6’1’’ 221lbs), testing numbers, and quality safety play at the college level should make him an eventual starting safety with time.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 06 Georgia Tech at Miami Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 7 (244): Charleston Rambo - Wide Receiver, Miami (FL)

Rambo’s receptions (79) and receiving yard (1,172) totals in 2021 are the most in a single season in Miami Hurricane history. He has good length (6-feet-1, 77-inch wing span), speed, and is a decent route runner but his drops limited his playing time at Oklahoma. Cardinals need better wide receiver competition on the backend of their roster and this selection of Rambo would certainly bring that to Arizona. Kyler Murray and Rambo were teammates at Oklahoma in 2018 and they would reunite in the desert with this pick.

Princeton v Brown Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Round 7 (256): EJ Perry - Quarterback, Brown (compensatory pick - Dan Arnold)

Tracy McSorley is not a lock to make the Cardinals’ 53-man roster so why not give him some competition. EJ Perry was the East-West Shrine Bowl Offensive MVP. He completed 66.5 percent of passes with 3,034 passing yards, 23 passing touchdowns, and 14 interceptions in his final year at Brown University. Perry ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and he put that speed to good use with 1,129 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns in his two years with the Brown Bears.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 7 (257): Jaylen Watson - Cornerback, Washington State (compensatory pick - Angelo Blackson)

Watson is a tall cornerback (6’2’’ 197lbs) with only two years of football experience at Washington State. Based on his athleticism and size alone, he presents a lot of intrigue and there is no risk taking him at this spot in the draft.

In short, here is my mock draft recap from PFF