Arizona Cardinals 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Will Anderson Jr. Begins the Defensive Turnaround in the Desert

Arizona Cardinals 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Will Anderson Jr. Begins the Defensive Turnaround in the Desert

Kliff Kingsbury and Steve Keim are gone. It’s time to turn around this disaster in the desert with a new head coach, general manager, and infusion of talent. This Arizona Cardinals NFL Mock Draft examines the potential for roster overhaul with what is currently limited 2023 NFL Draft capital. In this scenario, simulated trades were active among other teams via the Mock Draft Simulator, but the Cardinals held steady and did not make any moves.

Latest Arizona Cardinals 2023 NFL Mock Draft

Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama | Round 1, Pick 3

Football games are won and lost in the trenches, and the Cardinals didn’t win too many of them in the 2022 NFL season. Thankfully, a new regime will have an early opportunity to land a difference-maker in the draft.

With limited capital, Arizona may opt to trade out of the third spot in order to bolster their roster. Although we held firm in this Cardinals NFL Mock Draft, both Atlanta and Indianapolis offered trades, including future first-rounders.

However, with Paris Johnson Jr. and Bryce Young flying off the board, the Cardinals are on the clock in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft with two difference-makers at positions of need still available. J.J. Watt’s retirement has left a substantial void to fill on the defensive front, and Arizona could opt to add the freakish defensive tackle out of Georgia, Jalen Carter, to significantly upgrade their team in the trenches.

Consistently one of the best pass rushers in the NFL over the lifetime of his career, Watt leaves Arizona lacking their most significant pass-rush threat. As a result, the selection of Will Anderson Jr. makes too much sense, bringing his disruptive and dominant play style to the desert to bolster the pass-rush attack.

The Alabama EDGE has tallied 58.5 tackles for loss and 34.5 sacks in the last three college football seasons. The 6’4″, 235-pound pass rusher boasts exceptional athleticism, power, and hand usage, as a devastating force around the edge and when attacking the interior. Although he’s renowned for his quarterback pressure capacity, the terror out of Tuscaloosa is also an adept run defender who is ferocious in pursuit of the ball carrier.

O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida | Round 2, Pick 34

The theme of establishing trench warfare continues in this Cardinals NFL Mock Draft as Arizona looks to upgrade an offensive line that allowed 46 sacks this season — the 10th most in the NFL. Improvements are needed at almost all five spots, especially with a number of potential free agency departures when the new league year opens.

The board falls perfectly for Arizona in this Cardinals mock draft, as what I perceive as a potential first-round talent falls into Round 2. O’Cyrus Torrence came into the season with a strong reputation from his seasons in the Sun Belt and has seamlessly transitioned to the SEC level.

The Florida guard is a 6’5″, 335-pound roadblock with exceptional strength and power, while boasting the length and control to manipulate people as a pass protector. He can be a Day 1 plug-in-and-play upgrade on the interior.

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois | Round 3, Pick 66

Into Round 3 of this Cardinals NFL Mock Draft, Arizona has already landed two immediate impact players at positions of need. Remarkably, the board has fallen in such a way as to allow them to add a third right here. After an incredible season for the Illinois Fighting Illini, Devon Witherspoon is shooting up draft boards and has a solid chance of being picked well before his landing spot at the top of the third round here.

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The Cardinals need a tone-setter in the secondary, and few cornerbacks set the tone in the same way that Witherspoon does. He’s a ferocious run defender, while his ability to blitz from the cornerback spot will come in handy for a team that had the fourth-highest blitz percentage in 2022. Meanwhile, Witherspoon’s speed, tenacity, fluidity, and ball skills make him one of the best coverage cornerbacks in the entire class.

Byron Young, DT, Alabama | Round 4, Pick 102

Back to the defensive trenches in the fourth round of this Cardinals NFL Mock Draft, and Arizona again returns to the Crimson Tide talent pool. Byron Young might not have received the same hype as previous Alabama defensive tackles, but he’s a legitimate talent with impressive versatility.

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Young is long and strong with impressive pursuit capability against the run, while showcasing the ability to power into the backfield as a pass-rush threat from the interior and with enough flexibility to be a dangerous presence from the 5-technique spot.

Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington | Round 6, Pick 166

Rounding out this Cardinals NFL Mock Draft, the Cardinals skip to the sixth round as they currently don’t possess any capital in the fifth. With Kelvin Beachum a potential free agent and a need for quality depth at offensive tackle, Arizona swoops for Jaxson Kirkland on Day 3.

Although his college career has been beset by injury issues, the Washington OT gives the Cardinals a towering presence with the length to keep rushers away from his chest. He’s also decently mobile, which, combined with his aggression, helps in the run game.