The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft kicks off Thursday night, and here’s where the Arizona Cardinals stand heading into the big night.
The Cardinals have shown flashes of being an elite team the past two seasons, but end-of-the-season collapses prevented Arizona from making postseason runs.
Arizona Cardinals 2022 NFL Draft picks
This year, the Cardinals have the 23rd pick of the first round along with a second-round pick, a third-round pick, two sixth-round picks and three seventh-round picks:
- Round 1: No. 23
- Round 2: No. 55
- Round 3: No. 87
- Round 6: No. 201
- Round 6: No. 215
- Round 7: No. 244
- Round 7: No. 256
- Round 7: No. 257
Here are storylines in the desert surrounding the Cardinals, and some need addressing if Arizona is hoping to pull it together this season.
Cardinals set at QB
There was a reason for concern in the Grand Canyon State after some drama from QB Kyler Murray.
After last season’s playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Murray unfollowed the Cardinals on all social media accounts and deleted his Instagram photos associating with them.
Later in the offseason, Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell spoke highly of Murray, going on about Murray being part of Arizona’s long-term plan. Then Murray’s agent Erik Burkhardt sent a contract extension to the Cardinals but a deal has yet to be struck.
Last week, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said there was zero chance the team would trade the former rookie of the year. Murray has also shown his commitment to the Cardinals via Twitter.
So Arizona fans can collectively take a sigh of relief that your team won’t likely use early-round draft capital to pick up a new QB. Backup Colt McCoy also re-signed with Arizona to a two-year, $7.5 million deal.
With the first-round pick being the most important, here are some possible names to expect commissioner Roger Goodell to announce for the Cardinals on Thursday night.
Cardinals draft option No. 1: WR Treylon Burks
Arizona is retaining some depth at wideout for Kyler to utilize.
He’ll have weapons like Deandre Hopkins, AJ Green and Rondale Moore. The Cardinals also re-signed tight end Maxx Williams, who was injured most of last season. Also, Zach Ertz, who the team acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles late in the season. But Green is getting older and Moore has yet to prove himself as a go-to wide receiver.
One name that NFL Draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay and Daniel Jeremiah have tied to the Cardinals is University of Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks.
Burks made an impact for the Razorbacks from the moment he stepped on campus, leading the team in receiving yards as a true freshman in 2019 with 475. In his third and final year in Fayetteville, Burks was an all-SEC first-team selection and set a school record with six games of 100+ receiving yards.
He’s a larger wide receiver whose strength is going up for contested balls and utilizing his big hands rather than killing teams with speed.
Cardinals draft option No. 2: DE George Karlaftis
With defensive line depth being a reason for concern, it’s a possibility the team could use early draft capital to fill some gaps (literally).
One option is defensive end George Karlaftis from Purdue University. The former Boilermaker stands at 6’4, 275 pounds.
In 2021, he led the team with 11.5 tackles for loss, and five of those were sacks. Karlaftis was also named to the Big Ten’s all-conference first team, was an AP third-team All American, and a Ted Hendricks Award finalist as a top defensive end.
Cardinals draft option No. 3: DT Devonte Wyatt
University of Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt is a versatile presence on the defensive line. Wyatt isn’t overly strong but can get after the passer as well as stop the run. Wyatt was an all-SEC first-team selection and helped lead the Bulldogs to a National Championship last season. He posted 39 tackles, seven for loss, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 14 games.
Key offseason departures
When linebacker Chandler Jones signed with the Las Vegas Raiders as a free agent, the defense took a blow.
Jones has been a staple in Arizona for six years, finding himself in the running for defensive player of the year twice, earning all-pro honors twice, making three pro bowls, and becoming the Cardinals franchise leader in sacks.
Offensively, wide receiver Christian Kirk signed a free agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars to become the team’s primary weapon. The former Cardinal had his best season last year, catching 77 passes to the tune of 982 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Those were career highs in catches and yards for Kirk, who also showed impressive durability, appearing in all 17 games.