Sunday, April 30, 2023

Arizona Cardinals 2023 NFL Draft Grades Roundup

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, and we have compiled a consensus ranking using NFL draft grades from a variety of sites.

What draft grades have the media given to the Arizona Cardinals? What are they saying about the Cardinals' 2023 draft haul?

MORE: 2023 NFL Strength of Schedule - Grade: A

Arizona moved down three spots in the first round, essentially netting a 2024 first-round pick and still picking the athletic, versatile Johnson to bolster the line. Ojulari, Williams and Wilson were quality picks at need spots, though the latter two will need to put some injury issues behind them. They also picked up selections with two wise trades on Day 2.

The offensive line rebuild continued with the smooth-moving Gaines. The fifth-round run on quarterbacks included Tune, who might be a good backup for Kyler Murray. Getting Clark as a slot corner and Pappoe at linebacker were absolute steals.

ESPN - Grade: A-

I liked what Arizona did on Day 1. It added extremely valuable 2024 picks (a first and third) from Houston and got my top-ranked offensive tackle in Paris Johnson Jr. (6), though trading back up to get Johnson cost them another second-rounder. This roster needs a lot of work, and general manager Monti Ossenfort has his work cut out for him. Johnson can be a building block as Kyler Murray's blindside protector. The Cardinals came away from this draft with a bevy of 2024 picks -- here's Adam Schefter summing up everything -- and it's clear Ossenfort is taking a long view with this team. The Cardinals might be rough this season, but there's hope next year and beyond.

As for whom the Cardinals drafted on Friday and Saturday? They found a few values and got my favorite Day 3 quarterback, Clayton Tune (139). Tune is accurate and experienced, and he throws a smooth ball. Edge rusher BJ Ojulari (41) was a pressure factory on passing downs last season, while cornerback Garrett Williams (72) is recovering from a torn ACL but might be a steal once he returns. Owen Pappoe (168) has tremendous speed for his position with upside as a cover linebacker. Michael Wilson (94), a 6-foot-2 wideout, had a nice combine workout, which boosted his stock.

Overall, I was impressed with what Ossenfort did in his first class as a GM, getting a plug-and-play left tackle and prime 2024 picks. If there's a quibble here, it's that he didn't take a running back on Day 3 to try to improve the depth chart there. That's where the Cardinals could have found value.

SI - Grade: B-

The Cardinals started well by trading out of No. 3 and acquiring an extra first-round pick for 2024. But Arizona got antsy and traded back into the top 10 to select Johnson, the first tackle off the board. With so many needs, Arizona would have been better off selecting Darnell Wright or Broderick Jones at No. 12 while also retaining the second-round pick it relinquished to Detroit for Johnson. Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon will benefit from the arrivals of Ojulari and Williams to help a defense that struggled last season. Taking Wilson in the third round was a gamble because of his injury history.

PFF - Grade: A+

Day 1: After moving down from No. 3, the Cardinals move back up and select their left tackle in Paris Johnson Jr. He ticks all the boxes physically, coming in at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, and he allowed just 14 total pressures from 449 pass-blocking snaps last season, the best of his career. The wheeling and dealing by Arizona just makes this that much better.

Day 2: Pass rush was a clear need for the Cardinals entering this draft, and Ojulari was one of the better remaining options. He doesn't have elite traits, but he wins with a deep collection of pass-rush moves and a high motor off the edge.

If not for the injury he sustained in 2022, Williams would have come off the board much earlier. He boasts really good footwork as a smooth mover on the outside and was a three-year starter at Syracuse. Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon will love Williams' ability in off-zone coverage, the bread and butter of his defense as a former secondary coach.

Wilson played only 14 games over the past three seasons, and even when he did play, he didn't see many targets. But he has the frame to be a more-than-solid player in the NFL. He averaged 2.3 yards per route run and caught 50.0% of the contested targets he saw in his final season at Stanford.

Day 3: Gaines is a reliable asset in both the run and pass game, as he graded at 76.7 and 77.4 in those facets, respectively. He is one of only three guards in the class to grade at least a 76.7 in both the pass and run games. Gaines may not have any particular special skill, but his consistency and balance are much needed in Arizona.

Tune earned back-to-back grades above 90.0, and his 79.5% adjusted completion percentage ranked seventh in the country in 2022. Tune is a good athlete to boot, which adds some rushing upside and doesn't require a complete change of the playbook from what Kyler Murray runs. With Murray on the mend from a torn ACL, the Cardinals were smart to add a young, developmental piece to the room. He just needs to learn the NFL game where not everything is schemed open like it was at Houston.

Pappoe lit up the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, putting up a 4.38-second time. He struggled against the run, producing a 59.5 PFF run defense grade in 2022 but had a 77.2 coverage grade and missed just 6.9% of the tackles he attempted.

Clark projects to the slot at the next level, fitting his playing style well as a downhill attacker who new head coach Jonathan Gannon should have some fun bringing on the occasional slot blitz. At 22 years old, Clark also has a ton of experience, with over 2,000 college snaps.

Fox Sports - Grade: A-

Cardinals GM Monti Offsenfort made four trades in his first time running a draft, netting nine players while also picking up four picks, including a first rounder from Houston, for next year's draft. For a team in full prebuilding mode, adding talent while also securing future picks for the acquisition of new players made it a productive and impactful draft for Arizona. First-round selection Paris Johnson Jr. improves Arizona's pass protection for Kyler Murray. B.J. Ojulari adds juice for a Cardinals pass rush that lost J.J. Watt (retired) and Zach Allen (signed with Denver Broncos in free agency). WR Michael Wilson gives Murray another big target on the perimeter.

USA Today - Grade: A-

New GM Monti Ossenfort quickly got to work, importing nine rookies to a roster that needed a talent infusion. Trading the No. 3 pick to Houston and ultimately winding up with OL Paris Johnson Jr. at No. 6 to protect recuperating QB Kyler Murray — while adding a first-rounder in 2024, among other assets — are indicative of a strong weekend. And Ossenfort might still eventually move WR DeAndre Hopkins to add to next year's balance sheet.

The Ringer - Grade: B+

There's a lot to like about the Cardinals' first draft under new GM Monti Ossenfort, as Arizona seemed to focus on adding players at premium positions. After initially trading out of the third pick, Arizona moved up to secure a versatile and athletic offensive tackle in Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State), bolstering a critical position of need. On day two, the Cards grabbed an explosive edge rusher in LSU's BJ Ojulari, an instinctive corner in Syracuse's Garrett Williams, and a route-running savant in Stanford wide receiver Michael Wilson. I liked what the team did on day three, too—with both Auburn linebacker Owen Pappoe and Louisville nickelback Kei'Trel Clark offering developmental upside. More importantly, Ossenfort did exactly what you'd hope he would do after inheriting a barren, talent-deficient roster. He traded back several times so he could accumulate a bevy of picks—including what could be a high-end first-rounder from Houston in 2024, while also picking up four extra third-rounders, a fourth-rounder, and a fifth-rounder). Overall, this could be a foundation-building draft for a team whose roster has fallen into disrepair over the last few years.

Sporting News - Grade: D

The Cardinals went into trade down mode to stockpile for new coach Jonathan Gannon and new GM Monti Ossenfort, but this is very underwhelming outside of Ojulari and Williams, including a bit of a forced luxury pick in Johnson (prompted by Kyler Murray). Wilson, Gaines and Tune were shaky selections in the middle, with a mild rebound from Pappoe and Clark.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: A-

The Cardinals traded down with the Texans from the third pick, getting a ton of draft capital in the process, and they took Johnson, the best true left tackle in this class. He'll be a Day 1 protector for Kyler Murray, and he's got a ton of potential with a few technical fixes. New head coach Jonathan Gannon ran a ton of five-man fronts as the Eagles' defensive coordinator, and if he's going to do that in the Valley of the Sun, he has his speed end in BJ Ojulari, who has a ton of speed and bend around the edge. Garrett Williams and Kei'Trel Clark are nice additions to an iffy cornerback room, and Michael Wilson is a bigger (6-foot-2, 213 pound) receiver who almost looks like a tight end at times. Owen Pappoe is a good speed linebacker, and Clayton Tune is a fascinating guy on tape — his top 20 highlights make you think he's going to be an NFL starter someday, and then, there's a lot of randomness.

Arizona came into this process with perhaps the NFL's worst roster, and they did their best to reinforce that roster with not only talent now, but more draft capital in the future to get back to relevance. You might like a bit more interior defensive line work in this draft, but not a bad haul at all.

More: 2023 NFL Draft Grade Roundups

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