The Cardinals added three additional picks in Day 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft after trading a third-round pick (No. 96) to the Detroit Lions for a fourth-round pick (122) and two fifth-round picks (139 and 168)
All picks made in the final day of draft could have a big role in the upcoming football season based on how their roster is currently constructed.
Here is my breakdown of each Cardinals’ selection in rounds 4-6:
Round 4 (122): Jon Gaines II - Offensive Guard, UCLA
Per ESPN stats, Jon Gaines was the most athletic offensive lineman at the NFL Combine.
Gaines made starts at right guard (30), center (2), and right tackle (1) in his five years at UCLA. He played some snaps at left guard during the East-West Shrine Game, which added to his already versatile football background. Academically speaking, he was committed to Princeton University which speaks volumes about his intelligence. And getting into UCLA is no easy feat. On the football field, he allowed only two sacks in 503 pass block snaps last year. However, his experience is very limited at center so slow down on entrenching Gaines as the starter there no matter how big of a need it might be for Arizona. He is not a mauler so he could stand to get stronger but he is a technician with quick feet and good recovery speed.
At UCLA, he blocked for a mobile quarterback in Dorian Thompson-Robinson. To have that familiarity and comfort protecting an agile quarterback like Thompson should make the transition to the NFL easier in protecting agile franchise quarterback Kyler Murray. Will Hernandez figures to retain his starting job at right guard, which is Gaines’ most experienced position. Cardinals have options at left guard as well in Eric Wilkinson, Marquis Hayes, and possibly first-rounder Paris Johnson Jr. It would not be a surprise to see Josh Jones and Dennis Daley be in the fold for the left guard job. For now, Gaines will be a versatile backup along the Cardinals’ offensive line with a chance to compete for a starting job.
Round 5 (139): Clayton Tune - Quarterback, Houston
Tune was a three-time team captain at the University of Houston. He made the First-team All-American Athletic Conference in 2022 after a breakout season in which he threw the third-most touchdowns (40) in college football. His 11,991 career passing yards is third-most in Houston history, with Case Keenum and Kevin Kolb being the two leaders. He had an impressive 104 career passing touchdowns. In terms of accuracy and throw power, Tune has been exceptional over the last two years with a 68 completion percentage. However, just like many young quarterbacks, he stares down his targets more often than not and scrambles for yards after first signs of pressure.
Cardinals got a big and athletic quarterback, standing at 6-feet-3 220 pounds and ran 4.64 seconds at the 40-yard dash. Considering no one knows when Kyler Murray will be ready to play after tearing his ACL in Week 14 last season, every other quarterback on the roster, including Tune, has a chance to start Week 1 of the 2023 regular season. For now, there is a four-way battle for the backup jobs and Week 1 start with Tune, Colt McCoy, David Blough, and Jeff Driskel. This 24-year-old quarterback could very well be a key player for Arizona’s 2023 season as a developmental quarterback-turned-starter right away.
Round 5 (168): Owen Pappoe - Linebacker, Auburn
Owen Pappoe is an athletic freak, just like his Twitter handle @TheFreak suggests. A player of his size (6’0’’ 225lbs) should not be that fast (4.39 40). You are not going to find many offensive skill players outrunning him. In terms of his play as an undersized linebacker, Pappoe is a very solid tackler. His instincts are average at best but could be very effective as a blitzer on passing downs on Nick Rallis’ defense.
On the Cardinals, Pappoe will be used on special teams. His speed-to-power plays jolts a football team and it should make him a standout on special teams right way. The Cardinals added a couple core special teamers this offseason in Kris Boyd and Josh Woods to go along with their already respectable coverage unit with Dennis Gardeck and Zeke Turner.
Round 6 (180): Kei’Trel Clark - Cornerback, Louisville
From Louisville Cardinal to Arizona Cardinal. Some things are just meant to be.
On his NFL Draft profile, NFL Sports Analyst Lance Zierlein wrote
“[Kei’Trel] 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”
The Arizona Cardinals have two starting job openings. There is one opposite Marco Wilson on the boundary and one in the slot. Though I would not label him a ballhawk, Clark understands how to execute all coverages rather well. He is another player that is fluid in his movements, can mirror receivers stride for stride, and tackles without fear albeit his small frame (5’10’’ 181lbs). His 10 pass breakups in 2020 was the most in the ACC conference and he has five interceptions in his career. The Cardinals should avoid playing him against big targets like DK Metcalf and his tackling is not ideal but his fearless approach to the game and instincts in coverage might be enough for him to get some playing time in the slot in 2023.
Round 6 (213): Dante Stills - Defensive Tackle, West Virginia
The Cardinals took a while but they finally added a defensive tackle with their final pick of the 2023 NFL Draft. And yes, Dante Stills could actually have a big role in 2023 if his college productions translate to the NFL. He was one of the most athletic defensive tackles in the draft, clocking in at 4.85 seconds at the 40-yard dash while 6-feet-4 286 pounds.
Dante Stills was drafted with pick 213 of round 6 in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 8.62 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 225 out of 1620 DT from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/do46i6CHNK pic.twitter.com/HNxy5yuKEt— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 29, 2023
His prowess in stuffing the run is evident in his 53 career tackles for loss, a West Virginia University record. He also brings pass rush upside with 24.5 sacks over the last five years. Stills was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection (2021-22) with very good production. His draft stock dropped because he was considered a tweener between a defensive end and tackle according to NFL Network’s Charles Davis. He lined up everywhere on the defensive line in college which is why Arizona took a chance on him. Every player the Cardinals drafted from Paris Johnson Jr to the final pick in Stills has incredible athleticism for their position. Stills has a chance at being a impact player for Arizona sooner rather than later due to the lack of proven defensive tackle depth on the roster.