PFF Mock Draft Simulation 1.0: Arizona Cardinals roll with two blue-chip prospects on defense

In the first of what will be many PFF mock draft simulations, Marvin Harrison Jr. was off the board. So which defensive players did the Arizona Cardinals take?
Arizona State v UCLA
Arizona State v UCLA / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

To start things off, these PFF simulated mock drafts ARE NOT mocks where I make picks for other teams. Instead, the computer makes the selections for me, and I only pick for the Arizona Cardinals at the selection they will currently be slotted into during a particular week.

Therefore, I am at the mercy of PFF when it comes to making a pick. Since I’ve explained my reasoning behind each one I made for those teams picking ahead of the Cards in each mock, I won’t repeat my words here, but I will instead list the players drafted so you gain an idea of why I picked a specific player. 

Arizona Cardinals roll with EDGE, corner, in first mock simulation

PFF’s simulator rolled with Drake Maye for the Chicago Bears, Marvin Harrison Jr. for the New York Giants, and Caleb Williams went to the New England Patriots. At fourth overall, Laiatu Latu became a member of the Arizona Cardinals, with his 6’4, 265-pound frame being the first thing that jumped out. 

Laiatu’s numbers over the past two seasons have also been nothing short of fantastic, with 10.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss last season. This year, Latu upped his game, and he currently has 11 sacks and 18.5 stops behind the line. 

I won’t list Picks 5 through 19, though I will name-drop the players who I was considering at 20th overall that went elsewhere: Jer’Zhan Newton, Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze, Keon Coleman, Kool-Aid McKinstry, Nate Wiggins, and Leonard Taylor III. 

Newton and Taylor are a pair of interior defensive linemen, and that’s a major position of need for the Cardinals. Nabers, Odunze, and Coleman are all talented receivers, but they all went in the top 15. McKinstry's fall surprised me, but he went 17th overall while Wiggins went 18th. 

Who did the Cardinals select 20th overall in this mock?

I could have rolled with a receiver in Emeka Egbuka, but that would mean taking a risk on a second injury-prone receiver in as many drafts. The Cardinals still needed a corner, so Cooper DeJean became the 20th overall pick. 

DeJean’s size was a plus, as was his consistency. The Iowa product picked off five passes for 91 return yards and three touchdowns in 2022 to go along with eight pass deflections. He also isn’t afraid to step up in run support, evidenced by his 56 tackles last season. 

This year, DeJean has been giving us quite an encore presentation, batting away five passes and intercepting two more for 41 yards. He’s made enough plays over the past two seasons that it would shock me if DeJean dropped to 20th overall, but if he does in real life, the Cards must seriously consider taking him.


(Statistics provided by College-Football-Reference)