Cardinals 2025 NFL Mock Draft: Budda Baker replacement spotlights early 3-round mock

Cardinals get big upfront, move on from Budda Baker in way-too-early 3-round mock.
Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker
Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

The Arizona Cardinals finished the 2023 NFL season with a 4-13 record and a last place finish in the NFC West.  That record earned them the No. 4 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft which landed them highly touted wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. The selection should add some excitement in the desert, but will it make them a better team in 2024?

With mandatory minicamp just underway, NFL Mocks can’t help but to take a way-too-early look at what players the Cardinals should have their eyes on in the 2025 NFL Draft.  What will be their biggest needs following the 2025 NFL season.  A lot of that will depend on the Murray to Harrison Jr. connection and how the rest of the 2024 NFL Draft class pans out this season.

The Cardinals also had the No. 27 overall pick in which they drafted EDGE rusher Darius Robinson out of Missouri.  The team also added cornerback Max Melton on Day 2 as well as running back Trey Benson.  With a string of third round picks, they also selected guard Isaiah Adams, tight end Tip Reiman and another cornerback in former Boston College star Elijah Jones.

2025 NFL Mock Draft: Cardinals get big up front, SEC star bolsters defense

The injection of draft picks on both sides of the ball should help the Cardinals improve in wins this upcoming season but projected with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2025 NFL Draft, here is an early look at which players they could add to the mix based on projected needs.

. . . Deone Walker. . Deone Walker. . DL, Kentucky. 8. 32

The Cardinals took care of their EDGE rush and cornerback needs in the 2024 NFL Draft.  Depending on how those players develop, Arizona’s biggest need at this point in the offseason program will be along the defensive line.  That’s where NFL Mocks have them selecting Deone Walker out of the University of Kentucky.

Kentucky star Deone Walker selected by the Arizona Cardinals in 3-round NFL Mock
Kentucky star Deone Walker / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Standing at 6-foot-6, 348 pounds, Walker was a team captain in 2023.  With is massive size, power and versatility along the defensive line, the Kentucky defensive star will be a presence along the interior of the defensive line giving the Cardinals a young front along with Robinson.  Excellent against the run, Walker can get to the quarterback as well.  Given his presence and the force he was in 2023, Walker’s draft stock could only rise.  Currently ranked behind Michigan’s Mason Graham as one of the top DL’s in 2025, this projected top 10 prospect would look great in a Cardinals uniform.

. Tyler Booker. . . OT, Alabama. . . Tyler Booker. 40. 32

The Cardinals did address the offensive line with the selection of Isaiah Adams in round 3 and Christian Jones out of the University of Texas in the fifth round.  Both players should add depth along the offensive line in 2024.  In signing right tackle Jonah Williams in free agency and with Paris Johnson Jr. at left tackle, the Cardinals should be set, but that won’t stop them from adding Tyler Booker with the No. 40 overall pick.

Alabama star Tyler Booker a 2025 NFL draft prospect the Cardinals should be scouting
Alabama star Tyler Booker / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

As a depth piece, the 6-foot-5, 335-pound Booker is an exceptional run blocker who attacks opposing defenders with power and a mean streak Cardinals fans will appreciate.  As far as pass protection, Booker allowed just 2 QB hits and one sack while playing at left guard.  That versatility should earn him snaps as he’ll learn behind Williams and eventually take over at right tackle as Williams is just on a two-year deal.

Kevin Winston Jr. . 72. Kevin Winston Jr. . . S, Penn State. . . 32. .

Buddah Baker will be a free agent following the 2025 NFL season unless the two sides spark an extension before or during the 2024 NFL season.  The Cardinals selected Dadrion Taylor-Demerson with the No. 104 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft to learn behind Baker as a free safety.  A player they should have their eyes on leading up to the 2025 NFL Draft is Penn State’s Kevin Winston Jr.

Kevin Winston Jr. a Budda Baker replacement in Arizona?
Penn State's Kevin Winston Jr. / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Explosive, quick, athletic and tough, Winston Jr. is a backfield defender who can play in the box against the run and has great range to be an impactful player in pass coverage.  If Baker moves on in free agency, the Cardinals could find a young player in Winston Jr. to at least help fill that void along with Taylor-Demerson. 

Again, a lot of what the Cardinals do in 2024 will depend on the talent they selected in this year’s draft.  If even half the players make contributions, the Cardinals could be using the 2025 NFL Draft to supplement a nice, young core in Arizona.