Arizona Cardinals: Ranking the 2023 NFL Draft's top 3 prospects behind Carter, Anderson
By Sion Fawkes
The 2023 NFL Draft is fast approaching, so who should the Arizona Cardinals have on their big board behind Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr.?
It is draft season, and the Arizona Cardinals have the third overall pick for the time being. So far, Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr. are the top rated prospects for the Redbirds, since they are elite talents who will fill immediate needs at either defensive tackle or edge, even if the Cards were to find a stopgap or two in free agency.
But what if the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans both go defense? What if the Bears swap with a team intending to draft one of the two talents, and Houston takes the other, or vice versa? It would be a worst-case scenario for Arizona, but it's always smart to consider the unexpected.
Obviously, if the teams picking ahead of the Cardinals select both prospects, general manager Monti Ossenfort will need to make a contingency plan. So let's rank three prospects the Cards can select if Carter and Anderson Jr. have already left the draft board.
Top 3 prospects the Arizona Cardinals can take if Carter, Anderson Jr. are gone
Prospect #1 - Tyree Wilson, DE/Texas Tech
Wilson isn't at the same caliber as Anderson Jr., but he still produced at Texas Tech, securing 15.5 sacks in three seasons, and 29 tackles behind the line. One thing Wilson has going for him is his NFL-ready size. At 6'6, 275, he's built like Myles Garrett, and he has the potential to produce along the same lines in the NFL.
You can look for him to play a role Chandler Jones left vacant if the Cards stick with the 3-4. In a 4-3, he will make a remarkable defensive end. Either way, Wilson would be an epic consolation for Will Anderson Jr.
Prospect #2 - Luke Van Ness, DL/Iowa
Slightly smaller than Wilson, Van Ness clocks in at 6'5, 265, and he's the type of player Ossenfort will pick if he wants to take someone based solely on potential. Looking at Sports-Reference, you will see that Van Ness never started a game, and his production over two seasons at Iowa was modest, with only 19.0 tackles for loss and 13.0 total sacks.
Rashan Gary is the first player that comes to mind regarding Van Ness. Like the Iowa product, Gary never produced in college, but he was regarded as one of the more disruptive players in college football between 2016 and 2018. If Ossenfort selected Van Ness, there may be a lot of disappointment early, but if he plays to his potential, he could be a steal.
Prospect #3 - Myles Murphy, DE/Clemson
And finally, we got Myles Murphy, another prospect whose build will remind you of Garrett. Like Van Ness, Murphy is brimming with potential all over the place, from his 6'5, 275lb frame, to his ability to consistently wreak havoc behind the line, evidenced by his 36.0 career tackles for loss in 35 games.
Add 6 forced fumbles and 18.5 sacks, and you got one of the most complete players in college football coming to the desert should the Arizona Cardinals decide to snag him either with the third pick or later on should they decide to trade down.
Ideally, the Cards will end up with either Carter or Anderson Jr., but it's important to be ready for anything. They might wind up trading down, which would all but nix the possibility they'll trade for either player. Or, as mentioned earlier, Chicago, Houston, or a team leapfrogging them may opt for the top defensive players, forcing the Cards to take the next best available.
Source: 2023 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT RANKINGS: 64 BEST AVAILABLE PLAYERS by Rob Rang, FoxSports.com
(Statistics provided by Sports-Reference)