Michael Wilson was a late riser for many NFL Draft analysts this past Spring. The Arizona Cardinals landed him on Day 2 of the event, giving the team a potential steal at wide receiver.
The Arizona Cardinals cut ties with superstar wideout DeAndre Hopkins after an uneventful few seasons together. Marred by injury and suspension, Hopkins’ time in the desert will best be remembered by a stunning walk-off touchdown vs. the Bills in 2020.
Alas, the good times didn’t last, and the franchise felt the need to move on. Hopkins returned to the AFC South, where he spent his first handful of NFL seasons with the Houston Texans. This time, he will don a Tennessee Titans uniform.
The Cardinals Still Have Weapons, Even Without DeAndre Hopkins
For the Cardinals, they still have a nice stable of weapons overall. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is a difference-maker when healthy, but the “when healthy” part is paramount in that statement. Brown was on his way to a monster campaign in 2022, but an untimely injury stopped his momentum in its tracks.
Elsewhere on the depth chart is Rondale Moore. The Purdue product is crafty with the ball in his hands and possesses game-breaking speed within his compact frame. Moore also dealt with some nagging injuries in college and his first two seasons in Arizona.
The always underrated Greg Dortch is another name worth mentioning, as he has filled in reliably for the previous two names when they miss action. Still, he lacks the top-end talent to serve as an every-down player on Sundays. The same is true about former Colt Zach Pascal; reliable depth but nothing more than that.
Zach Ertz is already cleared for action after tearing his knee up less than 12 months ago. However, at age 32, Ertz is approaching the cliff. Youngster Trey McBride has the chops to take over as TE1 eventually, but it might take another year of seasoning before the Colorado State alum is ready for the full-time role.
Kyler Murray himself is still recovering from a busted knee, too. The Cardinals are unsure if their star signal-caller will be healthy by Week 1, but it is fair to assume he will miss at least a few games. Colt McCoy will hold down the fort until then, but he needs help from all the names mentioned.
Michael Wilson Has A Chance To Carve Out A Key Role In The Offense As A Rookie
As impressive as the receivers and tight ends are on paper, a certain Day 2 rookie presents the highest upside of all. Stanford’s Michael Wilson fell to Arizona on the second day of the 2023 NFL Draft, providing the offense with a wide receiver that boasts “prototypical” size on the boundary.
Brown, Moore, and Dortch are fun pieces, but Wilson has the size and skillset to demand the respect of opposing offenses every snap. He is a chain mover with crisp route running and sure hands. Wilson moves incredibly well for a 6-foot-2, 214-pound pass catcher.
Once Murray returns, Wilson’s production and snap count could rise exponentially. The two should be able to replicate the connection that Kyler formed with Hopkins over the past few years. This is not me predicting Wilson will be as good as Hop — that is an unfair expectation for anyone.
But with his performance at training camp, the hype train is beginning to gain steam as the regular season approaches. Wilson has a prime opportunity to seize the starting role opposite Hollywood Brown sooner than later. The minute he gets his foot in the door, expect the third-rounder to kick the whole thing down.
The Cardinals may not win many games in 2023, but if Kyler Murray returns early enough, there’s a chance Arizona can string together more victories than expected. It will require contributions from everyone on the offense, but none more so than Michael Wilson. The rookie has the world at his feet right now.