The Arizona Cardinals are willing to trade down in the 2023 NFL Draft, general manager Monti Ossenfort said during the NFL Scouting Combine. The Cardinals currently own the No. 3 overall selection. The Cardinals should be open for business in case a massive offer arrives, but Ossenfort should possess an interest in sticking and picking.
“We are prepared to select a player with our pick,” Ossenfort said. “With that said, we will listen to offers,” Ossenfort concluded
The Cardinals are already armed with eight total selections, including two third-round picks and four overall selections in the top 100. While adding extra capital can be fruitful for a franchise in transition like the Cardinals, Ossenfort should have more interest in landing a blue-chip player. The Cardinals lack high-end talents on the defensive side of the ball.
The Chicago Bears are expected to trade the first overall pick to a quarterback-needy franchise. The Houston Texans are also expected to draft a quarterback at No. 2 overall. The Cardinals signed franchise signal-caller Kyler Murray to a five-year, $230.5 million extension that keeps him signed through 2028 less than eight months ago. The Cardinals aren’t going to draft a quarterback. All signs indicate the Cardinals could draft the best defensive player available.
That should appeal to Ossenfort, who inherits a defense that recorded a modest 36.0 sacks in 2022. The outlook becomes even bleaker even when you realize the now-retired J.J. Watt accounted for more than 33% of those sacks (12.5). Arizona’s second sack leader was Zach Allen, who had 5.5 quarterback takedowns. Allen is set to reach unrestricted free agency in March and is in line for a sizable payday.
Drafting Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. or Georgia’s Jalen Carter should be Arizona’s top priority. Both Anderson and Carter are transcending talents that could deliver the transformation Arizona’s defensive line requires. The Cardinals won’t land one of those talents if they decide to trade down. Clemson’s Myles Murphy and Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson could be options if the Cardinals were to trade back.
New Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon should also hope to draft a defensive playmaker at the top of the draft. Gannon joins the Cardinals after serving as the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator. Gannon saw a historic 70-sack campaign help catapult the Eagles to Super Bowl LVII. New defensive coordinator Nick Rallis also worked alongside Gannon in Philadelphia.
There’s another trade-related reason the Cardinals should retain the third overall pick. Ossenfort is expected to trade superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins this offseason. Hopkins should land the Cardinals at least one second-or-third-round selection in a blockbuster deal. The Cardinals may even land multiple picks in exchange for Hopkins. It should lessen Arizona’s desire to flip the third overall selection for multiple picks.
Ossenfort is navigating through his first NFL draft experience in charge of a franchise. Possessing the third overall selection is a benefit Ossenfort is thrilled to inherit. The temptation to trade the pick will be present, but Ossenfort should opt for drafting a franchise-changing defensive talent like Anderson or Carter.
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