Arizona Cardinals NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2022: Marquise Brown, Trey McBride Round Out Skill Position Talent

The Cardinals entered this offseason with a bit of a rocky start as Kyler Murray’s relationship with the team appeared very strained. Their first move on draft night was directly geared towards Murray’s happiness as the team traded for his former college teammate Marquise Brown from the Ravens. With the Cardinals’ remaining draft picks, they set to work on addressing some needs such as pass-rush and offensive line. However, questions will remain as to whether or not they did enough to bolster this roster as Arizona looks to recapture the magic it had in its 10-2 start last season. Read below to get an in-depth analysis of the Cardinals’ 2022 draft picks including grades for each selection.

Arizona Cardinals Draft Picks 2022

Round 2 No. 55 TE Trey McBride
Round 3 No. 87 DE Cameron Thomas
Round 3 No. 100 DE Myjai Sanders
Round 6 No. 201 RB Keontay Ingram
Round 6 No. 215 OG Lecitus Smith
Round 7 No. 244 CB Christian Matthew
Round 7 No. 256 LB Jesse Luketa
Round 7 No. 257 OG Marquis Hayes

Overall Draft Grade: C+

Analysis: The Cardinals’ draft grade factors in the Marquise Brown trade and I had mixed feelings about that acquisition overall as Arizona essentially spent a first-round pick on a wide receiver they will have to fork over a big contract for next year. However, the Cardinals have been missing a big-play, vertical element in the offense, and Brown’s presence is even more important after DeAndre Hopkins was suspended for the first six games of this upcoming season and missed time last year due to injury. It’s also easy to make the case that Brown will make more of an impact this season than any receiver still available with the 23rd pick.

Beyond the Brown trade, the Cardinals had a solid draft overall while mixing a blend of the best player available and addressing needs. Trey McBride doesn’t fill an immediate need at tight end, but his surefire hands and polished route-running are highly enticing. Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders help bolster a pass-rush that just lost Chandler Jones over the offseason while the team’s Day 3 picks help fill out the roster at some key spots. Overall, this was a solid draft that earns a C+ grade.

Arizona Cardinals Draft Grades 2022

Round 2 Pick: 55 / Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State

After extending Zach Ertz to a three-year, $31.65 million extension over the offseason, I was surprised to see the Cardinals draft a tight end here. However, Arizona ran 12 personnel (two tight ends) at a 30% rate in 2020, the second-most in the NFL, and that fell to the middle of the pack at 22% in 2021. With the offensive line still not great, having an extra tight end on the field helps immensely with blocking and setting up short-area completion opportunities. With McBride joining Ertz and Maxx Williams, the Cardinals now have as versatile a tight end room as any team in the NFL.

Grade: B-

Round: 3 Pick: 87 / Cameron Thomas, DE, San Diego State

Cameron Thomas’s tweaked hamstring at the Senior Bowl put some doubt into his pre-draft evaluation, but his consistent collegiate production was more than enough to make him worthy of a top-100 pick. Thomas played all over the defensive line at San Diego State, and he had an impressive 12 sacks and 21 QB hits in 2021. Thomas’s refined hand usage and 90th-percentile 6.91-second 3-cone also helped boost his stock. On an Arizona defensive line lacking depth across the board, his versatility and consistency will be highly valuable.

Grade: B+

Round: 3 Pick: 100 / Myjai Sanders, DE, Cincinnati

Sanders is a tricky evaluation. He had a career-high ten pressures against Evan Neal and Alabama in their meeting in the College Football Playoff last year per Pro Football Focus, and his explosive first step and excellent upper-body strength consistently flashed on film. However, Sanders’s weight fluctuated wildly throughout the pre-draft process and that’s concerning for a player whose best role in the NFL isn’t quite clear. Steve Keim told reporters that he sees Sanders playing SAM and WILL linebacker. The upside is real for Sanders, but there are also some serious questions to answer for him.

Grade: C+

Round: 6 Pick: 201 / Keontay Ingram, RB, USC

The Cardinals were always likely to draft a running back this year after not replacing Chase Edmonds in free agency following his departure to the Dolphins. Following his transfer from Texas to USC, Ingram cut some weight and significantly improved his short-area quickness and elusiveness. However, the 25th percentile short shuttle and 29th percentile 3-cone drill were concerning for him. Ingram lacks a three-down skill set without the strength for blitz pick-ups or consistent receiving production. There simply aren’t many standout qualities to his game.

Grade: D+

Round: 6 Pick: 215 / Lecitus Smith, OG, Virginia Tech

A former tight end who transitioned to offensive guard, Lecitus Smith is probably too undersized to start in the NFL. With 4th percentile arm length at 31 7/8” and 21st percentile height and wingspan, he would have to be a top-level athlete to compensate for those size issues, and he simply isn’t. Smith tested under the 45th percentile in every athletic test except for his 68th-percentile 40-yard dash. He finished with a RAS of just 6.53. Of course, some of those limitations are to be expected in the first round, but it’s hard to imagine Smith becoming a real contributor in Arizona.

Grade: C-

Round: 7 Pick: 244 / Christian Matthew, CB, Valdosta State

I don’t know much about Christian Matthew, nor had I even quite heard of Valdosta State prior to the draft, but as a 6’4”, 200 lb cornerback who had an absurd 41.5-inch vertical, Matthew will have the opportunity to compete for a roster spot at a position of need for Arizona. Similar to Smith and the interior offensive line, I would have liked to have seen Arizona do more to address their deficient cornerback room prior to Day 3, but Matthew provides some intrigue.

Grade: C+

Round: 7 Pick: 256 / Jesse Luketa, LB, Penn State

When you’re taking players on Day 3, you want to find talent that can contribute to special teams to give them a better chance of making the final 53-man roster. Luketa fits the bill with his high-end motor, aggressive playstyle, and decent athleticism. Luketa is undersized at 6’2”, 253 lbs, and he never contributed much as a pass-rusher at Penn State, but he has decent depth potential.

Grade: C

Round: 7 Pick: 257 / Marquis Hayes, OG, Oklahoma

Unlike Lecitus Smith, Marquis Hayes has a massive 83 1/2” wingspan that ranks in the 89th percentile and 34 7/8” arms that rank in the 85th percentile. He used that length to good use as a starting guard for Oklahoma’s potent offense and Hayes made the All-Big 12 Second Team in 2021. Hayes was one of the most productive pass-protectors in the country among this interior offensive line class, and I would argue that he has a better chance to develop into a starter for Arizona than Smith.

Grade: A

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. With my educational background in the sports business and a strong knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sports, I hope to tell enthralling stories about the world of sports as it unfolds around me.

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