2024 Arizona Cardinals Mock Draft: Fixing a Moribund Franchise

Emerging from a disastrous 2023 season, the Arizona Cardinals are looking towards the draft to craft their identity.

In 2023, the Arizona Cardinals sunk to a level that alarmed many observers. With a rookie head coach, the team finished 4-13, featuring zero spark and little hope of the future. Kyler Murray, while talented remains enigmatic, on and off the field. A dynamic athlete, the injury bug jumped up and bit him again. For the second consecutive year, he failed to log at least twelve games. While you do see flashes in Murray, the question of his future needs asking. Meanwhile, the albatross of his mammoth contract hangs over the franchise like a black cloud. The Cardinals cannot release Murray, due to hundreds of millions in dead cap. As a result, the team needs to build around, and in spite of their franchise quarterback.

Trades

Arizona, for the purpose of this draft, the Cardinals make one trade up. In this hypothetical, they attack the immediacy of roster construction. As a result, they sent a sixth and seventh rounder this year to the New York Jets. In addition, a 2025 fifth rounder heads to New York. In return, Arizona receives a fourth round pick this year (pick 135).

4th Overall (Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame)

Despite signing Jonah Williams in the offseason, Arizona cannot pass up on a franchise left tackle in Joe Alt. Alt gives the offense a skilled blindside protector with fast feet, quick hands and above average football intelligence. The first day he walks into camp, the Cardinals should enjoy their best offensive tackle in over a decade.

27th Overall (Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas)

With a passing offense that ranked in the bottom third of the league in multiple categories, the Cardinals need to start scoring some points. Mitchell immediately gives them an outside threat that can gain separation both vertically and underneath. To be honest, Mitchell becomes the team’s best receiver upon his drafting.

35th Overall (Chris Braswell, EDGE, Alabama)

For Arizona and their defensive-minded head coach, the urgency to upgrade the pass rush stands out. Granted, they cobbled together thirty-three sacks in 2023. Yet, they lack a difference maker that alters games and puts fear into offenses. Moreover, a great rush makes the other parts of a defensive gameplan so much easier to execute. Under those circumstances, a player that will be a superior athlete to every blocker he faces becomes indispensable. Braswell may not be the most-known of the last three Alabama edge rushers, but what he lacks in name recognition, he makes up for in the ability to win rush reps consistently.

66th Overall (Mike Sainristil, CB, Michigan)

Now, the NFL draft process is an exercise in measurables. People see Sainristil standing five-foot-nine and want to write him off. However, height isn’t a determining factor that answers the most basic question: can he play? Although lacking height, the former Michigan product brings explosion, ball skills and a willingness to hit to the table. Arizona needs multiple cornerbacks to compete with multiple receiver sets are the NFL standard.

71st Overall (Christian Haynes, OL, UConn)

After nearly two decades of looking for grit, the Cardinals can start assembling an offensive line. Similarly, the best intangible about Haynes is the ability to stay blocking. At times, you can watch other guards feign busy work and pitty-pay. At the same time, you will see Haynes fit, angle and manipulate the opponent with athleticism and will. Arizona ran the ball well last season. Now, they can attempt to keep opposing defensive tackles out of the backfield.

90th Overall (Theo Johnson, TE, Penn State)

When evaluating Theo Johnson, you see a player with serious upside that needs fine turning. First, Johnson will tower over anyone that covers him, from linebackers to safeties. Johnson can outjump most in his way. Plus, he shows enough burst to threaten the seam, streaking downfield, creating immediate mismatches. Perhaps the lone hiccup could be his ability to occasionally work as an inline blocker.

104th Overall (James Williams, Hybrid, Miami)

When Jonathan Gannon accepted the job in the desert, he probably never guessed that he would inherit a front seven completely bereft of talent and athletic traits. Williams, a former safety can slide next to or even supplant Kyzir White in the middle of the Cardinals defense. While drafting to stop one play does not work, when you see Williams’ ability to cover, you cannot help to imagine him shadowing George Kittle. While Williams played sagety in college, with his size, you can see a transition to linebacker.

135th Overall (Jaylin Simpson, CB, Auburn)

Subpackages, especially facing dynamic passing offenses emerged as the one of the most crucial aspects of football. With that said, Arizona should draft as many quality defenders as possible. Furthermore, a versatile talent like Simpson drops right into the nickel or dime. With experience at both cornerback and safety, Simpson fully comprehends the assignment, blanketing offensive skills. The wide-open nature of the league require players that can wear many, especially in the high-contract, dead cap era.

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