The 2023 NFL Combine is the penultimate premier event ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, and it’s a crucial one for the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona can’t afford to exit this offseason without new core pieces. The information they gather at the Combine will help them narrow down the options down the road.
Cardinals Draft Prospects To Target at 2023 NFL Combine
The Cardinals were a mess heading into the 2023 offseason. Things have settled a bit with the addition of former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon as head coach, but there’s still a lot of work to do before this roster is ready to compete in the NFC West again.
On offense, Arizona needs to improve its protection unit for Kyler Murray. And on defense, the unit up front is in dire need of game-changing talent. The roster as a whole could use an infusion of dynamic ability, and that’s what will be on display at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
It’s a tall task — to overhaul the team in such a drastic way. But it’s one that both new general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon are prepared for.
“I’m excited to embark on this next stage of Cardinals football,” Ossenfort said during his introductory press conference. “We’re going to focus on a completely unified message across the general manager, head coach, and ownership, to what exactly we want to be as a football organization. We’re going to institute a thorough and exhaustive scouting process, and we’re going to turn over every stone to find the right players for this team.”
“I know there is work to be done, but I like the core pieces here,” Gannon echoed in his press conference nearly a month later. “Through Monti and I, and Michael [Bidwill], we’re going to turn over every stone that we can to help improve the roster.”
The Combine, as it turns out, is a fairly large stone. And it’ll be an important checkpoint for Ossenfort and Gannon, to keep building the core of the new Arizona Cardinals. These five players might end up joining the ranks.
EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
A large percentage of mock drafts in circulation have the Cardinals situated at third overall and choosing between Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr. or Georgia DT Jalen Carter. It’s a tough decision for a team that needs blue-chip talent at both positions, and the NFL Combine might help narrow it down.
It’s not uncommon for some top prospects to opt out of testing, so it’s not clear if we’ll see numbers from Anderson. Regardless, the tape already confirms his elite athleticism. The numbers under more scrutiny will be his weight and length. Anderson played in the 240-plus range and was more than fine in college, but a lower figure may raise questions in the NFL.
DT Jalen Carter, Georgia
It’s essentially a coin flip as to who the top prospect (not accounting for positional value) in the 2023 NFL Draft is: Anderson or Carter. The Combine doesn’t necessarily provide any entirely new information about any prospect’s athletic gifts, but it’ll be a chance for Carter to confirm his absurd physical ability.
Carter’s teammates all tested out of this world in the 2022 NFL Combine. Defensive linemen Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt each ran 40-yard-dash times in the late 4.7s, and everyone says Carter is the most athletic of the group. If he tests, it’ll be must-watch viewing on the potential No. 3 overall pick.
CB Tyrique Stevenson, Miami (FL)
The Cardinals’ next pick after the third overall selection sits at 34th overall. There, assuming they address the defensive line with their first pick, Arizona will likely consider one of many options at cornerback. The Cardinals are in great position to capitalize on the class’ CB depth up top, and Tyrique Stevenson is one prospect they may circle.
Stevenson has the physical gifts and stylistic qualities to flourish early on in Gannon’s scheme. At 6’0″ and over 200 pounds, with arms over 32″ long, Stevenson has elite athleticism and explosiveness to go along with very efficient matching technique and physicality. He’s one of the biggest riser candidates this week.
C Luke Wypler, Ohio State
The Cardinals have a lot of work to do across the roster, but the interior offensive line is quietly one of the biggest areas of concern. Both guard spots need an upgrade aside, and center is also an issue to address, with Rodney Hudson’s utility rapidly decreasing.
Arizona has three picks between 66th overall and 105th, and in that range, they’ll have several options to consider at center, one of which is Luke Wypler. Wypler is more of a prototypical center at 6’3″, 300 pounds, and he’s a good athlete in space. He’ll get to show that during drills in Indianapolis.
G Andrew Vorhees, USC
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, with an abundance of needs and only a standard amount of capital, they may go into Day 3 with a need remaining at guard. It’s up to Arizona how they use their early picks, but they’ll need to be aware of contingency plans, regardless.
Andrew Vorhees could be available as an option on Day 3. More than most prospects, Vorhees’ Combine will be crucial. He’s a powerful, physical blocker in a phone booth at 6’6″, 325 pounds, but athleticism, mobility, and flexibility are all major concerns on his tape. If he can test with at least decent numbers, he may earn the confidence of a team like Arizona.
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