2022 NFL DRAFT DEEP DIVE: ARIZONA CARDINALS
By Chase Petersen
The NFL Draft is over, and we cannot head into the three-month abyss that is the offseason without looking at what all 262 selections mean for each franchise. Whilst too early to judge just how successful a draft class each team’s was, we can look at how rookies fit within schemes, where they stand on depth charts, and who we can expect to make an impact in 2022. We continue our team by team series with the Arizona Cardinals:
|2||55||Trey McBride||TE||Colorado State|
|3||87||Cameron Thomas||EDGE||San Diego State|
|6||215||Lecitus Smith||IOL||Virginia Tech|
|7||244||Christian Matthew||CB||Valdosta State|
|7||256||Jesse Luketa||EDGE||Penn State|
The Cardinals were arguably the laughing stock of day one, as they traded their 23rd overall pick for Hollywood Brown. I think this is a good addition into the Kyler/Kliff offense, but AJ Brown was traded for a pick just 5 selections higher. Not to mention, no other team in football, even the Ravens probably, thought Brown was worth a first round pick. The run on this year’s top WRs happened before the Cardinals got on the clock, so since they were desperate for a WR, specifically one that would make Kyler happy, they overpaid a bit to pull this trigger.
The Cardinals kicked off day two with another weird decision, in my opinion. They had just given Zach Ertz a big money TE deal, making him the league’s tenth highest paid TE. Then they turned around and selected Trey McBride with their 55th overall pick. The Cards now have a 3 deep at TE consisting of Ertz, Maxx Williams, and McBride, probably the best TE room in the league – but who cares? They’re tight ends…
The Cardinals’ second day 2 pick was a bit better than the first, Edge rusher Cameron Thomas out of San Diego State has the versatility to play up and down the LOS, but his size says EDGE, while his arm length says iDL. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals deploy him.
Their third and final day two pick was Cincinnati EDGE Myjai Sanders. Before the combine, I had Myjai as a borderline first round player. Then he came into the combine at less than 230 pounds, ran 4.67, and had a 33” vert. This caused me to rethink his status as a top 40 player. If Myjai can get his size in order, those numbers aren’t the worst, but 6’5” 228 is way too skinny to consistently win the EDGE at the next level. If Sanders can sit around 245-255 and keep those same athletic numbers, Arizona could have run into a steal in the 3rd round comp picks.
The Cardinals were busy on day 3, just not until the sixth round. They started with the selection of former Texas and USC RB Keaontay Ingram. I loved Keaontay Ingram until his dropped TD against LSU, and his fumbles on the goalline against TCU. He has high upside as a 3 down back as he looked faster his year at USC. After losing Chase Edmonds, they needed some more talent in their backfield, and they got it here in Ingram
The next selection was Lecitus Smith, the OL from Virginia Tech. Smith will play on the interior in the NFL due to his lack of length. The game already looks slowed down for Smith, and he never seems to be in a hurry or flustered. Just a big strong guy who will provide some nice depth along a depth-lacking OL in Arizona.
The seventh round included selections of Christian Matthew, Jesse Luketa, and Marquis Hayes. Luketa is an undersized and not super athletic pass rusher, so I’m intrigued on how they use him. Hayes could realistically be a starter along their OL in the very near future as well.
One To Watch: Marquis Hayes
Of course, being that there were only five players drafted after Hayes, he might not make the team. However, I fully expect him to not only make the team, but to compete for a backup iOL spot from day one. Hayes needs to work on the fundamentals of playing OL, but he has the ideal height, weight, and arm length to be even a starting LT in the NFL. He doesn’t possess the quick feet and consistent hands to stick there, but should they improve he could be a nasty OG for a long time.
|Darrell Baker||CB||Georgia Southern|
|Changa Hodge||WR||Virginia Tech|
|Manny Jones||IDL||Colorado State|
|Kekaula Kaniho||S||Boise State|
|Will Miles||IDL||Central Michigan|
|Ronnie Rivers||RB||Fresno State|
Of all the UDFAs the Cardinals signed, the one I think has the best chance at making an impact is Stephon Robinson Jr. out of Northwestern by way of Kansas. Robinson flashed big time at KU in 2019, putting up over 120 yards against both OU and TTU. He also had a 6/67/2 performance against Texas. He then only played in 3 games in 2020, then transferred to NW where he had 100+ yard games against Nebraska and Rutgers. He also provides some PR/KR versatility.
In conclusion the Cardinals had a mediocre draft day. I feel as if they could’ve gotten better value in the Hollywood Brown trade, and used their 55th pick on Luke Godeke or Drake Jackson instead of investing in another TE. They drafted guys along their DL who have the versatility to play all over, however didn’t draft any elite athletes at the position group where it’s probably the most important to be an elite athlete. The Marquis Hayes pick being so late improves the class a bit, but overall I’m not overly bullish on their draft haul.
From just outside Kansas City Missouri, Chase has been obsessed with the NFL Draft for as long as he can remember. An avid Minnesota Vikings and Texas Longhorns fan, connect with Chase on Twitter @SportsTalkCenter