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Andy Kwong’s Arizona Cardinals Mock Draft 2.0: Trading down but still bolstering the trenches

Cardinals get arguably the top pass rusher in the draft

2022 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3 Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

The 2023 NFL Draft is only a month away which means it is time for another Arizona Cardinals mock draft.

With the conclusion of the NFL Combine, Pro Days being underway, and situation with top prospect Jalen Carter, the stock for nearly every prospect is constantly fluctuating and changing.

According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, the Cardinals will draft Ohio State center Luke Wypler on Day 2. NFL Insider Benjamin Allbright predicting Arizona potentially trading down in the first round to take either Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez or Texas Tech pass rusher Tyree Wilson. The future of All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins could affect the draft. I had Arizona taking Georgia’s Jalen Carter in my first mock draft.

There are an infinite number of possibilities and outcomes which makes the NFL Draft that much more exciting to follow.

Without further ado, here is my Arizona Cardinals mock draft 2.0:

Alabama v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Round 1 (4): Will Anderson Jr - EDGE, Alabama (from Colts - mock trade)

AZ receives: No. 4 overall (1st), No. 79 (3rd), No. 106 (4th), 2024 third-round pick

IND receives: No. 3 overall

The Cardinals get haul of picks while trading back a spot with the QB-needy Indianapolis Colts and still manage to select pass rusher Will Anderson, who is arguably the best prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. 34.5 sacks over the last three seasons? Sign me up!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 01 Oklahoma at TCU Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 2 (34): Steve Avila - Offensive Guard, TCU

Avila is a plug-and-play starter at left guard with center experience. Though he will likely need to compete with free agent acquisitions Dennis Daley and Hjalte Froholdt, this would be Avila’s job to lose. Not sure if Arizona views Josh Jones as a guard. Avila is a plus pass protector on the interior offensive line.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 02 Pac-12 Championship - Utah vs USC Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 3 (66): Clark Phillips III - Cornerback, Utah

Phillips had six interceptions and allowed a passer rating of 68.4 when targeted last season. He is a ballhawk cornerback with ample experience playing in the boundary and the slot. Due to his size (5’9’’, 184lbs), Phillips will likely have to play in the slot. On the Cardinals, Phillips should be an instant starter in the nickel position to replace Byron Murphy, who signed a two-year deal with the Vikings.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Auburn at South Carolina

Round 3 (79): Darius Rush - Cornerback, South Carolina (from Colts - mock trade)

After selecting Phillips, the Cardinals double down on cornerbacks with the selection of Darius Rush. He put on a show at the NFL Combine, silencing doubters about his speed with a 40-yard dash result of 4.36 seconds. At 6-feet-2 198 pounds, Rush is well built for the position and should compete with Antonio Hamilton and Christian Matthew for the starting job opposite Marco Wilson. He had seven pass breakups and two interceptions last year.

Ole Miss v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Round 3 (96): Jonathan Mingo - Wide Receiver, Ole Miss (Compensatory Pick - Christian Kirk)

Based on the measurables alone, Jonathan Mingo is reminiscent of former Ole Miss product and current Philadelphia Eagle A.J. Brown. He is a respectable route runner that is plenty fast (4.46s 40) to be a consistent deep threat and redzone mismatch in the NFL. He utilizes his big frame (6’2’, 220lbs) well as a blocker and give Kyler Murray a tall muscular target to throw to outside of the rather short trio of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (5’9’’), Greg Dortch (5’7’’), and Rondale Moore (5’7’’).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 4 (105): Tyjae Spears - Running Back, Tulane

Spears is one of the more elusive and explosive running backs in this draft class. He had a breakout senior year with 1,837 scrimmage yards and 21 touchdowns. The Cardinals have been in need of a change-of-pace running back to pair with James Conner since the abrupt release of Eno Benjamin midseason last year.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 29 Wake Forest at Louisville Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 4 (106): Kobie Turner - Defensive Tackle, Wake Forest (from Colts - mock trade)

Turner is a high-motor defensive lineman that offers some pass rush upside. With Zach Allen signing with the Broncos and the Cardinals having brought in unproven veterans in LJ Collier and Kevin Strong, Turner would have an opportunity to start right away as a rookie. The Cardinals’ best interior defensive linemen is Rashard Lawrence, who played well when on the football field but missed 25 games over the last three years.

Rose Bowl - Utah v Penn State Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Round 5 (168): Juice Scruggs - Center, Penn State (Compensatory Pick - Chandler Jones)

First off, how can you not love his name? Secondly, Scruggs was a team captain at Penn State and has the necessary strength to hold up at the center position. He played 685 snaps at right guard in 2021 and 886 snaps at center last year. A possible late-round gem for the Cardinals if he is their selection.

Houston v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Round 6 (180): Clayton Tune - Quarterback, Houston

Maybe there were better prospects at the top of the sixth round but Tune’s production cannot be ignored. Last year, he completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 4,074 passing yards and 40 touchdowns. He also had 544 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. Tune ran a blazing 4.64 seconds on the 40-yard dash standing at 6-feet-2 220 pounds. A potential three-way battle between Colt McCoy, David Blough, and Tune for the Week 1 start assuming Kyler Murray has not made a full recovery by then.

Oregon v Washington Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Round 6 (213): Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu - Offensive Tackle, Oregon (Compensatory Pick - Chase Edmonds)

Aumavae-Laulu was a right tackle for the Oregon Ducks and has allowed only two sacks in 828 pass block snaps since 2021. He would be an intriguing developmental prospect behind Kelvin Beachum.