The Arizona Cardinals have the third overall pick on April 27th, and they need to land a marquee prospect with the selection. Here is how they get it right.
The Arizona Cardinals have some leverage here, thanks to their spot with the third pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. So who should they go after with the pick? It comes down to two players: Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr.
Since the Chicago Bears have the first overall selection, they will likely take one of the aforementioned prospects since they already have their quarterback of the present in Justin Fields. The Houston Texans will likely roll with a quarterback unless they believe Davis Mills can be their guy moving forward.
Assuming the Bears, Texans, and Cardinals keep their respective draft slots, here is why I believe the Cards would get it right with the edge rusher in Will Anderson Jr. Keep reading for more.
Arizona Cardinals Mock Draft 1.0 – Redbirds land Will Anderson Jr.
1 – Chicago Bears: Jalen Carter, DT/Georgia
To win football games, you need someone who can wreak havoc on the interior defensive line, something Aaron Donald proved time and again. For the Bears, a team that allowed the second-highest number of rushing yards and the second-lowest amount of QB pressures in 2022, could use a player of Carter’s caliber.
If the draft were held today, the Bears would have taken Carter without hesitation. And since head coach Matt Eberflus previously stated his interest in landing a three-technique defensive tackle, Carter is the bona-fide pick here, and that may very well still be the case come April 27th.
2 – Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB/Alabama
The Texans desperately need a face of the franchise, and with DeMeco Ryans stirring interest as the incoming head coach, drafting a potential franchise quarterback in Bryce Young could pay dividends. Young will likely start immediately for the Texans, and they can start building around the signal-caller from Day One.
Young may be small, much like Kyler Murray, but he’s had multiple solid seasons at Alabama and has shown he can elevate talent of those around him. This is a stark contrast from his predecessor, Mac Jones, who was better suited to be a glorified game manager.
3 – Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson Jr., Edge/Alabama
Between 2020 and 2022, Will Anderson Jr. had 227 pressures, good for an average of 75.5 per year. Those pressures turned into 34.5 sacks, or 11.5 per season. And with no J.J. Watt for 2023, Anderson could pick up where the future Hall of Famer left off, even as a rookie.
He could also fit in either a 4-3 or 3-4 alignment as an outside linebacker/edge rusher. This makes Anderson much like Von Miller, who weighed just 246lb at the 2011 NFL Combine, and was often regarded as too small to line up with his hand at defensive end in a 4-3 alignment.
Miller has thus far turned in a Hall of Fame-caliber career, so it goes to show you that even if Anderson doesn’t line up as a traditional edge in a 4-3, assuming the Cards revert back to it under Jonathan Gannon, don’t believe for a second the move will hamper his production.
(Statistics provided by Sports-Reference)
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