Round 4, No. 105: Jordan Battle, S – Alabama
For now, the Cardinals are good at safety. But, considering that Thompson, Baker, and Simmons are all soon-to-be free agents in the next couple of years, adding a player like Alabama’s Jordan Battle would be a great insurance plan in the secondary.
Battle is a physical safety who is at his best in the box, even performing well at Alabama as the primary slot defender. With the Arizona Cardinals, Battle could fulfill a similar role, playing mainly as a slot corner and adding some deep security in three safety sets.
The 2023 NFL Draft is not particularly deep at safety, and considering that Battle could be available at the beginning of the fourth round, it might make sense to find that depth and potential succession plan in this year’s class to continue to build out a talented defense for Gannon.
Round 4, No. 106 (via IND): Blake Freeland, OT – BYU
The Arizona Cardinals circle back to the offensive line room, adding an athletic freak in BYU’s Blake Freeland. Measuring in at 6′ 8″ and 300 lbs, Freeland showed out at the NFL Combine, running a sub-5-second 40-yard dash while leaping out of the stadium with a 37″ vertical and a 10′ broad jump. Sure, there are few situations where an offensive lineman would need to do any of these tests in a game situation, but the athleticism is so astonishing it’s impossible not to think of what his ceiling could be.
Freeland showed great football intelligence and character at BYU, serving as a four-year starter and team captain at the end of his collegiate career. Freeland performed well as a pass protector at BYU, especially with his great agility and fluidity, but will certainly need to gain some strength to increase his ability as a run blocker from the tackle spot. However, at just 300 lbs, there is certainly room to add muscle to his long frame, and he could become a starter at either tackle position during his rookie contract.
Round 5, No. 168 (C): Malik Cunningham, QB – Louisville
With Kyler Murray missing time in each of the last two seasons, it might make sense to target a potential backup quarterback in the later rounds of this draft, and Louisville’s Malik Cunningham could be a great fit in Arizona’s offense.
In college, Cunningham struggled at times as a passer and has proven to have some accuracy concerns as well as a tendency to lean on his first read. However, the Louisville quarterback showcased his remarkable athleticism last season, accumulating over 500 rushing yards last season alongside over 1,500 passing yards with 20 total touchdowns.
Cunningham isn’t the type of player you would feel confident letting start for multiple games just yet, but he could do the job in a one- or two-game stint if needed. Even if he doesn’t have the skills as a passer at this point in his career, Cunningham could help anchor a run game in a backup capacity, while still being effective in the designed passing game.
Round 6, No. 180: Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB – Kentucky
Another way to help Kyler Murray next season is to take some pressure off of him via the run game, and adding a workhorse back like Kentucky’s Chris Rodriguez Jr could be a great way to deepen a lackluster running back room.
Outside of James Conner, there is not a lot to be excited about at the position, and Rodriguez could instantly become the second running back as early as his rookie season. Rodriguez is a big, physical back who packs a punch running downhill. Outside runs and a role in the passing game shouldn’t be expected for the Kentucky product, but with great pass protection skills as a running back, he could certainly carve out a nice role as a third down blocker and early down/goal line/short yardage rushing option.
Round 6, No. 213 (C): Brenton Strange, TE – Penn State
The tight end position is not necessarily one of the biggest needs for the Arizona Cardinals, but with Zach Ertz approaching the twilight of his career, it would make sense to bring in another tight end who fits the system in Penn State’s Brenton Strange.
Like Ertz and Trey McBride, Strange is a between-the-numbers seam threat who could help out some of the smaller receivers on the roster to go deep while the tight ends carve up the middle of the field. Strange is slightly on the smaller size for a tight end, measuring in at 6′ 4″ and 245 lbs, but provides a great pop as a run and pass blocker, especially as a lead blocker for the tailback.
Strange would add depth and complexity to both the pass and run games in Arizona and surrounding Murray with big, physical targets should be an intriguing route to take to make Murray’s life as a passer a lot easier.