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A “home run” for the cardinals


Teams that don’t need a quarterback at the top of the 2023 NFL Draft could quibble among themselves if they argue over whether to put defensive tackle Jalen Carter or rusher Will Anderson Jr. at the top of their big boards .

But if the top two draft picks aren’t traded, chances are the Arizona Cardinals won’t have to make that decision. The Chicago Bears, with QB Justin Fields already on the roster, will likely lead the draft in picking their favorite defensive prospect, and it’s assumed the No. 2 Houston Texans are going with one of the better quarterbacks.

That leaves new Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort with one of Georgia’s Carters or Alabama’s Andersons to add instant impact to the Arizona defense.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. thinks the storyline is fine when it comes to the Cardinals, according to his fictional first draft of 2023.

New Arizona general manager Monti Ossenfort gets a prime pick to try to improve that roster, and he could be lucky in a Pro Bowl edge rusher up front. Anderson was a losing tackle machine in college — he had 54 in the past two seasons — and dominated offensive tackles in both the running and passing game. He was sometimes unblockable against competition from the SEC. For the Cardinals, who are losing JJ Watt to retirement, he could play outside linebacker and move into defense to create lags. It would be a home run for Ossenfort & Co.

The big asterisk here is the fact that Arizona has no head coach, and therefore no defensive coordinator, in place.

Could this person’s opinion swing the pendulum in any direction when considering how new staff will use Carter or Anderson?

Anderson’s talent seems to translate whether it’s a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive front. There’s no doubting Carter’s value to Arizona in either scenario either, considering they lost JJ Watt and other than free agent Zach Allen, they have no reason not to take a player. interior line.


Kiper gives Carter the edge as the Bears’ No. 1 pick in the mock draft because he sits atop the big analyst board. As Kiper considered trade scenarios for Chicago, he stuck with the team guarding the better selection with his defense desperately in need of a boost.

He has to be D until the end where the Bears make their choice. Carter, an explosive inside pass-rusher and run-stuffer, gets the go-ahead on Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. on my Big Board. He’s the best player in this draft, a Day 1 starter in the middle of that defense.

Next, Kiper has the Texans with Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud.

His initial mock draft is loaded with quarterbacks that bypass the two defensive standouts of Carter and Anderson.

It has the Indianapolis Colts signing Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the fourth overall pick, then the Seattle Seahawks grabbing Kentucky quarterback Will Levis with the No. 5 pick owed to them by the Denver Broncos.

One would think that future scenarios in Kiper’s simulation could include trades by these teams in the Cardinals’ slot – something Ossenfort said he would be willing to consider in the real world.