The Cardinals felt that former Ravens WR Marquise Brown was worth the 23rd overall pick in the first round. He reunites with former college quarterback Kyler Murray. What should be noted is the move may have created more value within the draft. They picked up a second third-round pick as part of the trade, Cincinnati’s Myjai Sanders, and he could challenge for a starting job in a two-year period. In 2021 Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Cameron Thomas, the team secured a player quite capable of playing inside on third downs, if necessary.
Arizona may have also improved the depth of its interior offensive line late in the process. Two guards, Lecitus Smith and Marquis Hayes, were both still on the board in the seventh stanza. Can they provide competition for the team’s backup positions and add depth?
|Player||School||DN Big Board|
|2 (55)||Trey McBride||TE/Colorado State||46/2nd Round||The John Mackey Award winner brings an advanced understanding of the position to the Cardinals. He can threaten defenses vertically or horizontally. Can he become a factor in the Red Zone?|
|3 (87)||Cameron Thomas||DE/San Diego State||100/3rd Round||Thomas, the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year, could bring a multi-faceted aspect to DC Vance Joseph's third down packages. Don't be surprised if he finds a way to create mismatches with Thomas.|
|3 (100)||Myjai Sanders||OLB/Cincinnati||81/2nd Round||Did Sanders take the next step in school? Perhaps. But even if he didn't there is the possibility that the best is yet to come. The offsides penalties have to become a thing of the past. |
|6 (201)||Keaontay Ingram||RB/USC, Texas||328/5th Round||Ingram not so quietly averaged nearly six yards per carry (5.8 YPC) in 2021. This included a 138-yard effort against Notre Dame in late October. |
|6 (215)||Lecitus Smith||OG/Virginia Tech||148/3rd Round||The 6-foot-3, 320-pounder moves well enough and simply has to watch stay square in pass protection. There is an ability to create forward movement with leverage as a run blocker.|
|7 (244)||Christian Matthew||CB/Valdosta State, Samford, Georgia Southern||N/A||Matthew certainly moved around quite a bit in school, but he found a rhythm for the Division II national runner-ups. The 6-toot-2 corner broke up three or more passes in three different contests. He contains OT-type length for the cornerback spot.|
|7 (256)||Jesse Luketa||LB/Penn State||282/4th Round||Luketa's move to pass rusher full-time ended with a strong performance in the postseason. His quick speed combines with upper body power to frustrate tackles and overcomes average natural bend.|
|7 (257)||Marquis Hayes||OG/Oklahoma ||212/4th Round||Hayes was accurate as a puller on the move from the left guard spot in the plethora of gap-schemed runs the team used during his time in school. Size gives him a chance to earn at the least a practice squad spot. |
|2022 UDFA signings|
|276||Darrell Baker, Jr.||CB-S-Nickel||Georgia Southern||5.42||4th Round||Not many players are available after the draft with the combination of speed and size that Baker has in his tool kit. Gaining a feel outside at CB will be necessary, but he has also played safety effectively.|
|490||Chandler Wooten||LB||Auburn||4.72||5th Round||Wooten’s final year in school flashed improved instincts and feel for the exchange LB spot. He possesses solid blitz capability with length.|
|156||Ronnie Rivers||RB||Fresno State||5.72||3rd Round||Rivers was banged on for a lack of height and undesirable measurements. He excels as an option route runner and flashes unique vision as a runner.|
|552||Manny Jones||DE-DT||Colorado State||4.491||6th Round||Jones was largely ignored during the postseason after finishing his career with 33 tackles for losses. Why? It may have been due to playing out of position inside for the better portion of a two-year period. He brings some redeemable qualities in terms of one-gap potential.|
|451||Javonta Payton||All-Purpose (Gunner-WR)||Tennessee, Mississippi State||4.85||5th Round||We felt that Payton’s all-purpose potential as a gunner made sense for some team late. He finished with 20 special teams tackles despite not playing them much as a senior at Tennessee. He flashed big play potential during that final year with 4.4 speed out wide (6 TDs).|
|369||Chris Pierce||WR/H-back||Vanderbilt||5.11||5th Round||Pierce largely operated outside the numbers in school and had some contests (i.e. Florida in 2020, Colorado State ’21) where he looked like a draft pick. The team’s inconsistent passing game did him no favors.|
|705||Jontre Kirklin||All-Purpose (WR-Ret)||LSU||3.56||7th Round||He’s played quarterback, WR and stood out on special teams in school. The explosive athlete could find his way if he impresses on special teams in camp.|
|428||Kekaula Kaniho||Nickel||Boise State||4.95||5th Round||The nickel back’s instincts, change of direction and ball skills have never been the issue. The weight (181 pounds) contributed to him not getting picked late in the draft.|
|Cole Bentley||OC||Louisville||N/A||N/A||Versatile. He has started at OC, RG, RT and LG while in school. He can stay frontal in pass protection but gave ground as a run blocker.|
|LaRon Stokes||DT||Oklahoma||N/A||N/A||Stokes largely went quiet the last two seasons from a statistical standpoint, but offers potential as a DE in three-man fronts at 280 pounds.|
|Stephon Robinson||WR||Northwestern, Kansas||N/A||N/A||Could Robinson ever match his 2019 production at Kansas? During a dominant two-game stretch in that season, he posted six touchdowns.|
|Will Miles||DE||Central Methodist||N/A||N/A||Miles’ size certainly translates to the next level and could land him an opportunity on the practice squad. The two-sport athlete has upside as a pass rusher with 36-inch arms.|
|Changa Hodge||WR||Virginia Tech, Villanova||N/A||N/A||Hodge’s 2019 season still reverberates with teams. At Villanova, he went for 13 TDs during that season. Two season-ending injuries hurt his overall standing.|
Overall, the fabric of the team’s roster only added pieces that complement what was already in place. The strategy seemed to be finding multi-year starters on the collegiate level to aid a roster full of burgeoning talent.
Hence the undrafted free agent signings of Darrell Baker, Jr., Ronnie Rivers and Kekaula Kaniho. Many of these may or may not make the team’s roster, but could add depth to its practice squad.
For a team that has endured depth issues in the second halves of seasons, it may prove to be a wise strategy.