Round 1, No. 2 (via HOU): Olu Fashanu, OL, Penn State
Assuming the Cardinals stick with Kyler Murray, upgrading the offensive line should be the new regime’s No. 1 priority. General manager Monti Ossenfort got off to a strong start by adding Paris Johnson Jr. in the first round this past April. But Arizona clearly needs more.
Enter Olu Fashanu. The Penn State standout is a franchise left tackle from Day 1. Many analysts, myself included, had Fashanu tabbed as an early first-rounder if he declared for the 2023 NFL Draft. Alas, he chose to return to the Nittany Lions and secure his college degree before moving on to the NFL.
At 6-foot-6 and 317 pounds, Fashanu is the prototypical size for a blindside protector. His length and overall athleticism allow effectiveness in the run game and passing game, alike. Oh, and he is only 20 years old. Johnson Jr. and Fashanu will solidify the offensive line around Murray.
Round 1, No. 6 (via WSH): Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
Stop me if you have heard this before: Jared Verse would have been an early first-rounder in the 2023 NFL Draft if he had entered his name. But similar to the aforementioned Fashanu, Verse decided another year of seasoning in college was necessary.
There’s a chance Verse cements his place inside the top five by the time next Spring arrives, but in a quarterback-heavy draft class, he slips to No. 6 in this mock draft. That sound you hear is Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon cheering in his typical Kendall Roy fashion.
The excitement is warranted, though. Verse profiles as a ten-sack player from Day 1, giving Gannon a much-needed pillar on the defensive side of the ball. With his trademark power and relentless motor while working toward the quarterback, the FSU star has perennial Pro Bowler written all over him.