In the 2023 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals made some bold moves, trading star players Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, and Budda Baker for additional draft capital. The Monti Ossenfort era looks like it will be defined by the talent in the trenches, with the team focusing on offensive and defensive line talent, creating a plug-and-play environment for skill players. The future looks bright for the Cardinals, as they build a team with a defensive line that terrorizes quarterbacks and an offensive line that imposes its will on opposing defenses. Here's a breakdown of the Cardinals' final 7-round mock draft selections:
The Cardinals made two separate trades, sending Kyler Murray and Budda Baker to one team for their 1st and 3rd round picks, and trading DeAndre Hopkins to another team for a 1st round pick.
Round 1, Pick 5 (from the Kyler Murray and Budda Baker trade):
Jake Palmer, OT, Alabama
With their first pick, the Cardinals instilled hope in their fan base by addressing the need for protection on the offensive line. Palmer, a standout tackle from Alabama, brings a combination of size, athleticism, and experience that will immediately improve the Cardinals' pass protection and run blocking. His presence will give opposing defenses nightmares.
Round 1, Pick 15 (from the DeAndre Hopkins trade):
Dante Rivera, DE, Florida State
At pick 15, the Cardinals continued to strengthen their trenches by selecting Rivera, a dynamic pass rusher from Florida State. Rivera's relentless motor and impressive physical tools make him a quarterback's worst nightmare, and he should provide an instant boost to Arizona's pass rush. The Cardinals' defensive line will strike fear into the hearts of opponents.
Round 2, Pick 39:
Quentin Morris, OG, Georgia
The Cardinals doubled down on hope in the second round, adding more offensive line talent in Morris. The Georgia product is known for his strong run blocking abilities, and he'll help open up running lanes for the Cardinals' ground game. Opposing defenses will struggle to contain Arizona's offensive line.
Round 3, Pick 71 (from the Kyler Murray and Budda Baker trade):
Lance Ferguson, DT, Ohio State
With their third-round pick, the Cardinals nabbed Ferguson, a disruptive interior defensive lineman from Ohio State. Ferguson is excellent at shedding blocks and has the versatility to play multiple positions on the defensive line. He'll add depth and talent to the Cardinals' front seven, making it even more challenging for opposing offenses to find success.
Round 4, Pick 103:
Cody Matthews, LB, Oklahoma
The Cardinals addressed their need for linebacker depth by selecting Matthews in the fourth round. The Oklahoma product is a sideline-to-sideline defender with impressive speed and tackling ability. Matthews will provide valuable depth and could develop into a quality starter, further bolstering Arizona's intimidating defense.
Round 5, Pick 135:
Kendall Jackson, WR, Washington
In the fifth round, the Cardinals began rebuilding their receiving corps by selecting Jackson, a wide receiver out of Washington. Jackson has good size and reliable hands, making him a dependable target for the Cardinals' new quarterback. His addition will help fill the void left by Hopkins' departure.
Round 6, Pick 167:
A.J. Cole, CB, Notre Dame
Adding depth to the secondary, the Cardinals selected Cole, a cornerback from Notre Dame. Cole's physicality and ball skills give him the potential to develop into a solid contributor in the Cardinals' defensive backfield, complementing earlier picks in the draft for what appears poised to become menacing defensive line robbing defensive coordinators of sleep for seasons to come.
Round 7, Pick 199:
Xavier Robinson, QB, Houston
With the final pick, the Cardinals take a flyer on Robinson who ends up having more arm talent than nearly every QB the last three years, and with the revamped offensive line Xavier fills in nicely when a TBD veteran QB ends up going down in Week 12 taking the Cardinals to the playoffs but making an exit in the semi-finals.
The 2023 mock draft sets the stage for the team under the management of Monti Ossenfort to forge an identity for dominating each and every game in the trenches. Instead of years past where wide receivers would break records on contract deals crippling the rest of the offense by only allowing it to draft so-so talent and fill talent gaps with overpriced veteran talent.
Hopefully the teams new approach instills some hope in the teams fanbase that ownership is actually committed to building a winning team and not just selling tickets to opposing fans. With the new foundation in place, the team gathers a sense of optimism that this new approach to winning through the trenches makes the Cardinals a team everyone hopes to avoid on the schedule.