Heading into the 2022 season, expectations were high for Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. With head coach Kliff Kingsbury leading the charge, Arizona looked to be heading in the right direction.
But instead, the team struggled heavily. Star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was forced to miss the start of the season while dealing with a suspension. Along with Hopkins suspension, wide receiver Marquise Brown missed time with an injury. In addition, Murray himself suffered a torn ACL.
With the troubles that the Cardinals faced, they finished the season with a 4-13 record. In turn, they locked themselves into the third overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
In the first round, the Cardinals could have their selection of elite talent. But with many holes on this roster, the team will also look to find talent on days two and three of the draft. If they can hit on later picks, they could return to form faster than some around the NFL may believe.
There are several positions that the Cardinals could look to address in the draft. They have glaring needs at wide receiver, running back, and defensive end. Luckily for Arizona, this draft class boasts depth at all three of these positions.
With that being said, here are three sleeper players the Cardinals could target in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Cedric Tillman, Wide Receiver, Tennessee
With Hopkins future with the Cardinals seemingly nearing an end, the team could look to add to their pass-catching room. Heading into the draft, the unit is set to be headlined by Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore. Along with these two, Greg Dortch and Zach Pascal will likely also play large roles in the passing attack.
If the Cardinals and Hopkins go their separate ways, the wide receiver position becomes a major need for this team. If they are looking to add depth, this year’s class will have several players who could fit into this Arizona offense, even in the later rounds. This includes Tennessee wide receiver, Cedric Tillman.
Over his five seasons at Tennesse, Tillman developed into an all-around round pass catcher in the Volunteers’ offense. While taking the field in 24 total games, he recorded 109 receptions for 1,622 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns.
Tillman played the best football of his collegiate career in 2021. As he appeared in a career-high 12 games, he recorded 64 receptions for 1,081 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
Heading into 2022, Tillman was in line for another major season. While an ankle injury limited him to just six games, he still made an impact. In total, he recorded 37 receptions for 417 receiving yards and three touchdowns on the season.
Coming in at 6’3″ and 213 pounds, Tillman has the size to be a big target at the next level. With the physicality that he brings to the game, he can test opposing defenses.
If the Cardinals do move on from Hopkins, Tillman could be the type of player that could fill that role.
Sean Tucker, Running Back, Syracuse
When looking at the current makeup of the Cardinals running back room, the team could look to add another option to the backfield. Heading into 2023, veteran running back James Conner will once again be the leading force for the team on the ground, but there is a need at RB2. Adding a player such as Syracuse’s Sean Tucker could be an option.
While at Syracuse, Tucker looked to be one of the nation’s more explosive running backs. In each of his three seasons, he proved to be a force out of the backfield. In total, over 33 games, he recorded 3,182 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns on 589 carries. Through the air, he added 64 receptions for 622 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Over the past two seasons, Tucker took his game to new heights. Through this stretch, he totaled 2,556 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns. He also surpassed 1,000 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in both seasons.
Adding a versatile option alongside Conner could make sense for the Cardinals. Tucker could still be available on day three of the draft, and if that is the case, the team may not afford to pass on him.
Byron Young, Edge, Tennessee
Heading into the draft, the Cardinals have a glaring need along the defensive front. With the third overall pick, they could add a superstar to the mix. But in the later rounds, they could also look to add a playmaker to the unit. If that is the case, Tennessee’s Bryon Young could be a potential option.
In just two seasons at Tennessee, Young developed into one of the more dominant edge rushers in the nation. While taking the field in 23 games for the team, he recorded 83 total tackles, 42 solo tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks.
Young has found success with his speed off of the edge. If he can adjust his game to the NFL, he could make an impact early for a team.
Young will be 25 years old at the start of the season. With his age, some teams could be weary of using an early pick on him, but in the later rounds, he could be a hidden gem.
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