Cardinals Draft: Nine names to watch as NFL combines, Pro Days approach

The NFL Scouting Combine begins Tuesday, while Pro Days are dotted throughout March.

The Arizona Cardinals have picks in every round except fourth this year. They’re in line for several sixth- and seventh-round compensatory picks, but those aren’t official yet.

They could get a sixth-rounder after Kenyan running back Drake left for free agency last year and two seventh-rounders for tight end Dan Arnold and defensive lineman Angelo Blackson.

Their first selection is 23rd overall.

We’ll continue to break down specific prospects until the April 28 draft, but here’s a list of nine names to watch during Combine and Pro Days. These names were chosen based on fictional expert drafts, large tables, and potential matches with cardinals.

Offense

Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Olave is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound flier who had 936 receiving yards as a senior in 2021.

His strong running ability allowed him to create separation at Ohio State, and he displayed the speed to burn through defenders on the field.

DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore are the only Cardinals receivers to play significant roles in 2021 still under contract.

Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

Dotson is a smaller but explosive target who gained 1,182 receiving yards in 2021 for the Nittany Lions.

He can play indoors and outdoors, plus ESPN Jordan Reid compared him to longtime NFL wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

The Cardinals haven’t used a first-round pick on a receiver since Michael Floyd in 2012.

Tyler Linderbaum, C/G, Iowa

Linderbaum won the Rimington Trophy last season, an award that recognizes the best center in the country each year.

The Cardinals have Rodney Hudson, 32, locked up for two more seasons, but they could use help elsewhere on the interior offensive line.

Linderbaum is 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds with terrific foot speed on the film. The Cardinals haven’t drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since 2015, but Linderbaum could be an asset in multiple positions for next year and beyond.

Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

Green is a massive 6-foot-4, 325-pound guard who has the strength and hands to be rated as an exciting run-blocking prospect.

Green was a first-team AP All-America as a junior last year. He started games in four of five offensive line spots in 2021, excluding center. He’s shaping up better as a guard and could also help alongside Hudson if he drops to No.23.

Zion Johnson, G, Boston College

There are plenty of offensive linemen to watch for this draft. Johnson weighs in at 314 pounds with plenty of power.

He played both outside and inside during college, but is profiled as a guard due to space limitations, according to NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein.

On film, his base and hand strength stand out, as well as his conscience.

Defense

Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The Cardinals were short of a cornerback heading into the playoffs after Robert Alford suffered a possible season-ending pectoral injury and Marco Wilson was compromised with a shoulder injury.

Arizona still has Byron Murphy Jr. under contract for another season and Wilson is entering the second year, but there isn’t much depth behind them.

Booth was a first-team All-ACC selection last year, his third at Clemson.

He’s a physically impressive prospect with quick feet, the ability to adjust his body in the air and ball skills.

Zierlein assessed he can overreact or misstep, but there are few turns in this year’s draft with Booth Jr’s athleticism.

Jermaine Johnson, OLB/DE, State of Florida

The Cardinals could use some help on the rim depending on the outcome of Chandler Jones’ status.

Johnson is a quick riser on many big boards due to his strong frame, passing moves and patience to effectively stop the run.

He was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year for FSU after racking up 12 sacks and 18 tackles for loss in 2021.

George Karlaftis, OLB/DE Purdue

Karlaftis intimidated offensive linemen in 2021 with his raw strength.

Zierlein rated his ability against the run in need of some work, but his explosiveness and pursuit of the quarterback make him a dangerous prospect to rush.

Kyler Gordon, CB Washington

The Cardinals have a track record of picking Washington defensive backs (Murphy, Budda Baker).

Gordon was a first-team All-Pac-12 in 2021. He has a solid frame at 200 pounds with smooth movement and acceleration. His brilliance and athleticism are remarkable.

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