Background: COLLEGE PARK, MD - OCTOBER 22: Northwestern guard Peter Skoronski (77) pass blocks during the Northwestern Wildcats versus Maryland Terrapins game on October 22, 2022 at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium in College Park, MD. Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.
There are five Power 5 programs that the Arizona Cardinals have direct ties to by virtue of hiring assistant coaches from the college ranks:
- Florida (DBC Patrick Toney, Asst. DLC William Peagler)
- Northwestern (CBC Ryan Smith)
- Stanford (OLV Klayton Adams, PGC /WRC Drew Terrell)
- Duke (asst, OLC Chris Cook)
- Arizona (OLBC Rob Rodriguez)
In terms of assessing talent, character and love of the game, there is no better intel on draft prospects than from coaches who were previously around them on a daily basis.
One can readily presume that Cardinals’ GM Monti Ossenfort and assistant GM Dave Sears have had in-depth conversations with the coaches mentioned above.
It just so happens that if the draft falls a certain way, the Cardinals might be able to select an impressive number of the top prospects from these schools.
Trade: ARI sends LT D.J. Humphries and the #3 pick to TEN for DT Jeffrey Simmons and picks #11, #41, #228 and TEN’s 2024 1st Round pick
#11 (from TEN): Peter Skoronski, T/G, 6-4, 313, 5.16, 21, Northwestern.
Skroronski, the top rated offensive lineman in this draft, would be not only a statement pick, but an extremely valuable player for the Cardinals. Last season at Northwestern, while playing left tackle, on 474 pass attempts, he gave up 1 sack, 2 QB hits and 3 QB pressures. Those are rare, elite numbers.
With the trade of D.J,. Humphries, the Cardinals could then start Peter Skoronski at RT opposite LT Josh Jones. Or, Skoronski could start at LG.
2022 PFF grade: 89.5
Skoronski’s 32 1/4-inch arms won’t be for everyone, but they are more than long enough to keep him at tackle in my book — especially when Skoronski tested as explosively as he did, with a 34.5-inch vertical and 9-foot-7 broad jump. Skoronski has the highest floor of any offensive lineman in the draft class.
2022 PFF grade: 89.5
PFF Big Board Ranking: #12
Mel Kiper’s Big Board Ranking: #11
#34: O’Cyrus Torrence, G, 6-5, 330, 5.31, 23, Florida.
Great size and superbly strong hands. Gave up 0 sacks and 8 hurries in 2022.
Per PFF: Torrence started his career at Louisiana-Lafayette, claiming the starting left guard role for the Ragin’ Cajuns from the second game of the season. He went on to allow just 12 pressures across his first two seasons in college, none of which were sacks or hits. After the 2021 season, when he posted a career-best 88.2 PFF grade, Torrence transferred to Florida. The step up in competition wasn’t an issue for him, and he once again went the full season with no sacks or hits allowed while posting an 89.9 PFF run-blocking grade.
2022 PFF Grade: 88.0
PFF Big Board Ranking: #39
#41 (from TEN): Adetomiwa Adebawore, DE/DT, 6-2, 282, 4.49, 22, Northwestern.
Adebawore is a powder-keg inside/outside defender with extraordinary 4.49 speed at 6-2, 282. Like Skoronoski, Adebawore’s versatility makes him extremely attractive.
Per PFF: Adebawore was hands down the single most impressive performer at the combine this weekend. His 4.49-second 40 at 282 pounds still looks like a typo. Add to that a 1.61-second 10-yard split, a 37.5-inch vertical, a 10-foot-5 broad jump and 27 bench press reps, and you have the most impressive testing athlete in the draft class. 2022 Grade: 75.2
2022 PFF Grade: 75.2
PFF Big Board Ranking: #40
#66: Darnell Washington, TE, 6-6, 264, 4.68, 21, Georgia (by Patrick Toney’s recommendation as Washington snagged 3 passes for 47 yards, 15.3 ave in Georgia’s 42-20 win over Florida).
Per The Draft Network:
Washington projects as an in-line traditional Y tight end. He’s an outstanding asset on running downs due to his blocking prowess. Washington works in both gap and zone-blocking schemes. He possesses upside as a pass-catcher with more opportunities and targets. I believe to get the best out of him, his routes should be attacking the seams and across the middle of the field off hard play-action. He is a zone-beater that can find soft spots to settle into. Washington does bring outstanding potential in the red zone as a blocker and receiver. He has the potential to develop into a reliable passing option and TE1 for an offense, but a TE2 at worst.
2022 PFF Grade: 85.7
PFF Big Board Ranking: #71
#96 (comp): Gervon Dexter, Jr. DT, 6-6, 310, 4.88, 21, Florida.
Has excellent length, strong hands, stack and shed power and a nose for the ball. Needs to develop as a finisher on his pass rush.
Per Ian Cummings of Pro football Network:
Dexter has high-end physical tools. While he doesn’t have the same elite lateral agility that Carter and Bresee have, he’s absurdly strong at contact. Additionally, Dexter brings exceptional explosiveness to go along with passable length, which he can use to generate immense displacement energy off the snap. He’s also flashed violent hands and upper body torque, with the ability to extend with force and blast blockers off their spot.
Dexter can still strive for greater consistency with his hand usage and leverage management through reps. Being as tall and high-hipped as he is, he’s naturally going to play too high at times. But for his size, Dexter sinks his pads well. If he can continue to hone his talents, he has the combined burst, play strength, power capacity, and motor to be a consistent interior threat.
2022 PFF Grade: 65.7
PFF Big Board Ranking: #118
#105 (from TEN): : Stetson Bennett, QB, 5-11, 192, 4.67, 25, Georgia (per Patrick Toney’s recommendation as Bennett passed for 316 yards and 2 TDs vs. Toney’s Florida defense in Georgia’s 42-20 win).
Lack of size and age (25) will likely make Stetson Bennett a 5th round pick. However, he ran a mix of plays under center and in the shotgun under Todd Monken (new OC in BAL) and is about as pro ready as any QB in this draft.
Why Kurt Warner thinks Bennett is under-rated:
2022 PFF Grade: 90.1
PFF Big Board Ranking: #168
#168: Kei’Trel Clark, CB, 5-10, 181, 4.42, Louisville (per JG’s recommendation as a Louisville alum)
Feisty, cat-quick slot CB to help fill one of team’s biggest needs.
Per Lance Zierlein of nfl.com:
Clark is small but fast. He plays with twitchy feet and a competitive demeanor when challenging the throw. He’s capable of stalking short and intermediate routes with a feel for the passing lane, but his lack of size and length shows up down the field. While the ball skills and athletic traits work in his favor, trouble with run support and big slot targets could be difficult obstacles to overcome in the NFL.
PFF Grades last three years: 57.2, 68.1, 73.0
PFF Big Board Ranking: #147
#180: Justin Shorter, WR, 6-4, 229, 4.55, Florida
Per Lance Zierlein of nfl.com
Big and long with the build-up speed and skill set to attack defenses via intermediate and deep routes. Shorter plays to his size with a rugged demeanor that allows him to play through physical coverage and secure catches. He has above-average ball-winning talent down the field but he’s too leggy and gradual in short spaces to escape press quickly or win consistently underneath. Shorter requires longer-developing routes that allow him to turn over his stride, but once he gets going, he tilts the odds in his favor. His limitations cap his ceiling, but his toughness and ball skills raise his floor as a WR4/5 with upside.
2023 PFF Grade: 74.0
PFF Big Board Ranking: #229
#213: Cameron Mitchell, CB 5-11, 191, 4.47, Northwestern
One of the top sleepers in this draft, Cameron Mitchell graded consistently well for three years at Northwestern, playing a highly physical brand of defense and special teams. Watch his sack and interception of Ohio St.’s Justin Fields in his highlights video:
Last three seasons PFF grades: 69.3, 75.7, 78.7
PFF Big Board Ranking: #248
#228 (from TEN): Evan Hull, RB, 5-10, 209, 4.47, 22, Northwestern
If you’ve ever watched Northwestern, you know what a superb baller RB Evan Hull is. He has nifty feet and a ‘you have to gang tackle me to get me down” mentality. Dude ran a 4.47 40 and a blazing 6.90 3 cone ay the Combine. Plus, popped at 37’ vertical and 10’3” broad jump. Career stats: 2,417 yards, 5.0 ypc, 18 TDs rushing, 851 yds, 9.1 ave., 4 TD receiving. Reminds me of Austin Ekeler who ran 4.48 and 6.92 3 cone and posted 40.5” vertical and 10’8” broad jump at his pro day.
PFF Grades last three years: 73.3, 78.6, 68.6
PFF Big Board Ranking: #279
Does this close-ties approach, while acquiring a 1st Round pick in 2024 appeal to you?
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