The Arizona Cardinals received a fair amount of praise for their 2023 draft class. Many experts agree that general manager Monti Ossenfort added an impressive group of youngsters to the Redbirds roster.
Unfortunately, there are lingering questions regarding a trio of Arizona's top selections. All three of the second-day additions that Ossenfort made back in late April have had issues with injuries. In fact, two of the prospects have already landed on the Cards' physically unable to perform (PUP) and non-football injury (NFI) list.
In desperate need of a pass rush, the Cardinals used a second-round pick on LSU linebacker BJ Ojulari. In 31 games for the Tigers, the Georgia native racked up 128 tackles (25.5 for a loss) and 16.5 sacks. Will Ojulari manage to duplicate what he did at the school when the NFL regular-season kicks off in September?
Unfortunately, the 21-year old Ojulari is already facing an obstacle as a professional. Arizona head coach Jonathan Gannon revealed that the talented edge-rusher recently underwent knee surgery. The team is hopeful that Ojulari will be back before training camp ends, but his trip to the PUP list this early in his pro career is far from ideal.
Arizona Cardinals may need a significant amount of production from their top rookies this coming fall
With the first of the franchise's two third-round choices, the Cardinals grabbed Syracuse University cornerback Garrett Williams. The squad was in dire need of a capable cover guy following the loss of Byron Murphy Jr. in free agency. It's not outlandish to believe that Williams could challenge for a starting gig this season.
One factor that could impede Williams' progress, however, is the torn ACL he suffered while playing for the Orange last October. Not surprisingly, the 6 foot,190 pounder has joined fellow rookie Ojulari, but on the Cards' NFI list. When Williams will be healthy enough to compete has yet to be determined.
Ossenfort and his cohorts are keeping their fingers crossed that the second of their pair of third-round selections will remain on the playing field from here on out. Over the past three campaigns, injuries limited Stanford University wideout Michael Wilson to a total of just 14 appearances for the Cardinal. Just last fall, a broken collarbone ended the 6 foot 2, 210 pounder's season after six contests.
Thanks to Ossenfort's ho-hum approach to the free-agent market, Arizona could very well be counting on their rookie class to be competitive. Things could get real ugly in the desert if the first-year pros fail to overcome the injury bug.
(Statistics provided by College Football Reference)