Young edge rushers are raring to impress the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff

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A contingent of youngsters will be given every opportunity to provide a pass rush for the Arizona Cardinals defensive unit.

As they embarked on last month's NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals were well aware of the fact that their defense needed a pass-rush specialist. The main prize was Will Anderson Jr., a stud outside linebacker out of the University of Alabama. Of course, the temptation to trade down was too great, and general manager Monti Ossenfort proceeded to take advantage of a fantastic offer from the Houston Texans.

The negative part of that trade was that the Cards were forced to take a pass on Anderson Jr. Ossenfort attempted to make up for that in Round 2, when he added LSU edge rusher BJ Ojulari. That's not a bad alternative by any means, but the former Tiger is certainly not as highly-ranked as his Crimson Tide counterpart.

What that essentially means is that Ojulari may not be a guaranteed, Day One starter. Anderson Jr., on the other hand, likely would have provided Arizona's defense with double-digit sacks as a rookie. Ojulari will be joining a pack of fellow pass rushers who will be vying for playing time when training camp gets underway in late July.

The Arizona Cardinals are hoping that a crew of young players will be able to provide a pass rush for the defense in 2023

Cameron Thomas, a third-round draft pick from last year, is one of several youngsters who will be looking to impress a brand-new Cardinals coaching staff. When given a chance, the 22-year-old played well last fall. In his 17 appearances (zero starts), the 6 foot 5, 270 pound Thomas was credited with 18 tackles and three sacks for former defensive coordinator Vance Joseph's unit.

With the second of the club's third-round selections in 2022, the Redbirds' former regime added another edge rusher to the mix. Myjai Sanders, a 6 foot 5, 255 pounder out of the University of Cincinnati, will also be given a chance to show new defensive coordinator Nick Rallis what he can do. In the 13 games he dressed for (four starts) last season, the 24-year-old Sanders contributed 23 tackles, three sacks and three pass breakups as a first-year pro.

Being that he was the draft's 41st-overall choice, Ojulari will also get a long look from head coach Jonathan Gannon and a fresh crew of assistants. In his three collegiate campaigns, the 21-year-old compiled 128 tackles (25.5 for a loss) and 16.5 sacks for the Tigers defense.

Though he's not considered a classic pass rusher, fifth-round pick Owen Pappoe did contribute eight sacks during his four seasons with the Auburn University defensive unit. A lack of size (6 foot 1, 222 pounds), however, could make getting to quarterbacks at the professional level a difficult task for the 22-year-old Pappoe.

Dennis Gardeck and Victor Dimukeje are also in the mix, but the chances of either veteran providing any pressure from the edge are extremely slim. Up and comers like Thomas, Sanders, Ojulari and Pappoe will be handed a golden opportunity to succeed, early on in their NFL careers. After failing to make the position a priority this offseason, the Cards will be counting on a youthful crew of pass rushers to take a huge step up in 2023.

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(Statistics provided by Pro and College Football Reference)