Arizona Cardinals rookie class could be the NFL’s best in 2023

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Wilson (14) catches the punt during minicamp at the
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Wilson (14) catches the punt during minicamp at the / Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY

The Arizona Cardinals, despite a weaker roster, received praise this past April after general manager Monti Ossenfort put together a stellar draft class.

Chad Reuter of recently projected the 2023 NFL All-Rookie Team, and a pair of Arizona Cardinals made the squad. Paris Johnson was named a guard alongside Anthony Bradford of the Seattle Seahawks, and B.J. Ojulari was one of three EDGE rushers to make the cut. 

But the duo could just be the tip of a larger iceberg as the Redbirds get younger in 2023. Of the team’s rookie class, don’t be surprised if Michael Wilson, Clayton Tune, Jon Gaines II, Dante Stills, Garrett Williams, Kei’Trel Clark, and Owen Pappoe all see more than their fair share of playing time this season. 

We know the Cardinals probably won’t go into 2023 with Marquise Brown, Greg Dortch, and Rondale Moore as their top three receivers, given their overall lack of size. But Michael Wilson, drafted in the third round in April, fills that void DeAndre Hopkins left. 

Clayton Tune would eventually make way for Kyler Murray. But in the early-going, he can win the starting quarterback job out of camp over the 36-year-old Colt McCoy and guide the Cards to at least a respectable record if he manages the game well. 

Jon Gaines II is another rookie capable of winning a starting job. Having played center in spot duty during his time at UCLA, he only needs to beat out Hjalte Froholdt to grab the gig in the desert. 

Arizona Cardinals rookie class can be the NFL’s best

No one has a golden opportunity quite like Dante Stills. Given how poor the Arizona Cardinals defensive line could be this season, Stills can sneak his way into the starting lineup and grow into an effective piece along the interior defensive line in a 4-3 look, and at end in a 3-4. 

Garrett Williams and Kei’Trel Clark only need to show that they are better players than Antonio Hamilton and Christian Matthew, respectively. While Isaiah Simmons could play a prominent role at corner, Williams could end up taking over for Hamilton once he finds his stride and shakes off the inevitable rust that will come with his return from an ACL injury. 

With zero ties to the current regime, Matthew could be on the hot seat, leaving the intriguing Clark to potentially take his spot at some point in training camp. Finally, Owen Pappoe could see an extended look at linebacker thanks to Zaven Collins bumping to the outside, or so it seems to be the case at this point. 

When you look at the Arizona Cardinals 2023 draft class, it’s clear they went with need over everything else. And by doing so, these intriguing talents have a chance to receive extended playing time in 2023. 


Source: Projecting the 2023 NFL Defensive/Special Teams All-Rookie Team: 14 instant-impact newcomers by Chad Reuter,