Walker's sack totals (six over 15 games in 2021) don't jump off the page, but he led the Bulldogs with 36 QB hurries and his best football is ahead of him. Walker has some inside-outside versatility, and he's even dropped some in coverage despite weighing 275 pounds. Not only is Chandler Jones an impending free agent, but J.J. Watt has averaged only 9.2 games over his past six seasons and will be 33 in March.
With a run on cornerbacks here right ahead of their pick, the Cardinals must be prepared to pivot. And if Chandler Jones moves on, there will be a major need for pass-rush help. This might feel high for Ebiketie, but he's ascending post-Senior Bowl and could provide quality third-down snaps early on.
The Cardinals need another talented edge rusher to pair with Chandler Jones, and this year's deep class gives them the perfect opportunity. Walker has the size and versatility to play anywhere up front, regardless of scheme, and was dominant against SEC competition.
Arizona's roster has impact players headed toward free agency all over the place, but one of the biggest is edge rusher Chandler Jones. Coupled with the fact that soon-to-be 33-year-old J.J. Watt is coming off a shoulder surgery, this pass rush -- which produced 41 sacks last season, tied for 13th most -- could take a step back in 2022. Johnson had 12 sacks and 45 pressures at Florida State in 2021 and then put on a show at the Senior Bowl. Even if the Cardinals lose Jones this March, Johnson could join Markus Golden and Watt to form a solid pass-rush group.
It's noteworthy that the team's top-two running backs -- James Conner and Chase Edmonds -- are also free agents. That said, I don't see a running back worth even considering in Round 1 this year. Texas A&M's Isaiah Spiller is my top-rated back, way back at No. 55 on my board. We've seen only two first rounds without a running back (2013 and 2014), but this is shaping up to be one of those years.
Despite what the naysayers might say, at least one running back has been selected in the first round of the past seven NFL drafts, as the position typically offers immediate impact potential.
The Cardinals enjoyed just such an impact a year ago, with free-agent addition James Conner, but he could see big dollars if allowed back on the open market after his one-year, prove-it deal with Arizona. With Kyler Murray and the Cardinals fizzling out the past two years, Arizona could see a finisher such as Walker as the missing piece.
Wouldn't be a surprise if somebody jumps on this smooth pass catcher much earlier. Wilson isn't the biggest guy (6-0, 192) or necessarily a blazer, but he gets open and finds the paint (12 TDs in 2021). Maybe he eventually supplants DeAndre Hopkins as the Cards' WR1, but he'd more immediately plug a gap given A.J. Green and Christian Kirk are unsigned.
The Cardinals' lack of receiver depth showed up in a big way after DeAndre Hopkins went down to a knee injury in Week 14, and now Christian Kirk is headed to free agency. If Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray want to avoid a late-season meltdown again in 2022, Williams will help. He may miss a few games to start the year as he rehabs from a torn ACL, but long term, he can be the field-tiling X factor that this offense needs.
Despite reports of unhappiness from both Kyler Murray and the Cardinals, the expectation is that he'll return in 2022. With that in mind, the Cardinals must do a better job protecting their investment. Kenyon Green can play anywhere on the offensive line but should slide in as a high-impact rookie guard.
McDuffie might not be the biggest or fastest corner in this class, but his physicality and sound coverage technique could land him in the top 20. If McDuffie's still available here, the Cardinals should snap him up.