Marquan McCall, IDL, Kentucky
With all due respect to Leki Fotu and Matt Dickerson, the Arizona Cardinals desperately need a nose tackle to play in the middle of their defensive line. Jordan Phillips had previously filled that role and he’s on the Buffalo Bills now. It’s possible that the Cardinals could address the position early with someone like Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt or his teammate Jordan Davis, but filling this position later in the draft could be a cost-effective and lower risk solution.
Ideally a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense occupies multiple blockers on each play. He should be able to control multiple gaps and hold his ground, even when being double-teamed. Because of this, most 3-4 nose tackles are bigger than normal defensive linemen. Kentucky’s Marquan McCall fits this size profile to a T. He’s 6’3” 346 pounds. And he could be just what the Arizona Cardinals need to bolster the interior of their defensive line.
McCall’s numbers don’t jump off the page (10.5 career tackles for loss in 31 games), but he does have the requisite size and experience to be an impact defender at the NFL level. Marquan McCall played primarily at nose tackle for Kentucky in 2020 and 2021, and it’s this experience against SEC offensive linemen that has teams intrigued.
In high school McCall played both offensive and defensive line and was the #4-ranked guard prospect in his 2018 recruiting class. This experience has helped him as a defensive lineman because he understands what the guards and centers attempting to block him are trying to do. It’s similar to how a defensive back that also played quarterback can diagnose and recognize plays seconds before they fully develop, because he’s seen it from the other side.
The physical tools are there for Marquan McCall. He’s terrific at holding his ground at the snap and has even displayed a surprisingly quick first step once the play begins. On running plays he’s a classic “space eater” and he can occupy the hole that a running back is trying to get through while the second level defenders behind him are freed up to make the tackle. Multiple people have attested to McCall’s off-field positive attitude and jovial personality. He seems to be a magnetic player that teammates are drawn to, and he could become a potential leader down the road. At the very least he’d be a welcome addition to any locker room.
There are some drawbacks to Marquan McCall’s game. He’s not a great pass rusher and could improve his hand strength and initial punch, and he has room for improvement when it comes to getting off blocks. He also isn’t the longest player, and he supposedly played at a weight above 346, which could be something to monitor going forward. All in all, the Arizona Cardinals need a nose tackle and acquiring Marquan McCall in the sixth or seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft would be considered a win.