Round 2, No. 34: Tyrique Stevenson, CB – Miami
Arizona goes back to the defensive well early in the second round, adding Miami’s Tyrique Stevenson to bolster a cornerback room that has struggled as of late. Stevenson is a long, athletic, and physical cornerback who is shooting up media draft boards due to his explosiveness and traits as a press man corner. With a 4.45 40-yard dash and a 10′ 5″ broad jump, Stevenson ranks in the 86th percentile in terms of RAS amongst cornerbacks, showing that the Miami and former Georgia product has the athleticism to perform well in the NFL.
The Arizona Cardinals certainly have solid safety play with Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson, but the cornerback position has been a big need since the departure of Patrick Peterson. Stevenson and Peterson are certainly different types of cornerbacks, but Stevenson’s skillset could lead him to quickly earning a starting spot in Arizona’s secondary.
As a prospect, Stevenson is far from complete, as most young players are, and may struggle early in the NFL, particularly in zone schemes, but with a little bit of coaching and patience, he could very realistically become a true lockdown, boundary cornerback in the desert.
Round 3, No. 66: Luke Wypler, C – Ohio State
After spending two picks to completely reshape the defensive side of the ball, the Cardinals get some help for Kyler Murray in the form of Ohio State center Luke Wypler. Arizona certainly needs some help across the interior of their offensive line, and finding a quality starting center would go a long way to provide some consistency up front in both the run and pass games.
Wypler is not the strongest or most physical center in this year’s draft, but with three years of starting experience in college, he is a proven commodity who wins with his football intelligence and instincts, as well as sound technique. Keeping Kyler Murray healthy and upright should be one of the main focuses of the offense moving forward, and adding a leader and communicator up front like Wypler would really help unify and improve the entire offensive line as a whole.
Round 3, No. 79 (via WAS thru IND): Tuli Tuipulotu, DL – USC
The Cardinals went defensive end in the first round, but that should not deter them from continuing to improve the defensive line. USC’s Tuli Tuipulotu is another very interesting defensive line prospect, even if he is not nearly the athlete that Anderson is. At 6’3″ and 266 lbs, Tuipulotu is a physical and powerful defensive lineman who has inside-outside versatility across the front four.
Tuipulotu was incredibly productive at USC, especially in his final season where he logged 13.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss. As a prospect, Tuipulotu plays with aggression and agility, shown by a strong first punch and great bend when rushing the passer.
Alongside Anderson, these two could create a unique pass-rush pairing, either as bookend defensive ends or as side-to-side rushers, where Tuipulotu could reasonably rush the passer from the 3-technique spot. Again, the defensive line and pass rush in general need a lot of work, and bringing in another proven disruptor could be a great way to kickstart the defense in 2023.
Round 3, No. 96: Cedric Tillman, WR – Tennessee
Star receiver Deandre Hopkins has already garnered a lot of trade interest from other teams, and while it feels like a trade might happen to gain some draft capital for future years, a Hopkins trade might not happen until after the draft, and the Arizona Cardinals should be focused on finding a reasonable replacement. While few receivers can replicate Hopkins’ production at his prime, Tennessee’s Cedric Tillman could perform well in a similar role as the veteran receiver.
At 6’3″ and 215 lbs., Tillman is a tall, fast, and physical receiver who showed elite traits when healthy during his collegiate career. Despite missing the majority of his final season due to an ankle injury, Tillman had a dominant year in 2021 to the tune of 64 catches, 1,081 yards, and 12 touchdowns over 13 games.
In Arizona, Tillman could fill the role of a jump ball wideout in an offense that features shorter and faster receivers. Rondale Moore and Marquise Brown have been great in Arizona, but adding a physical receiver who can get open in a different way will help Kyler Murray as well as both of these receivers become more productive.