Twice in a row, the Arizona Cardinals used a third-round pick to give themselves pass-rushing options. They followed the 87th overall selection of San Diego State’s Cameron Thomas by taking Cincinnati edge rusher Myjai Sanders at 100th overall.
The pick and receiver Marquise Brown were acquired Thursday in the trade that shipped the 23rd pick to the Baltimore Ravens.
Sanders tallied 41 tackles with 2.5 sacks and six passes defensed this past season to follow a seven-sack campaign in 2020.
The 6-foot-5, 228-pound player has a clear path to play outside linebacker, while Thomas’ positional projections could place him either at the spot vacated by OLB Chandler Jones or more inside, where veteran defensive end J.J. Watt operates.
At the NFL Draft Combine, Sanders ran a 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds, adding a 33-inch vertical jump and a 4.37-second 20-yard shuttle drill.
Three-year starter whose unorthodox movements can be off-putting until you realize they also help put him in position to make plays. Whether playing the run or rushing the passer, Sanders is flexible and slippery, making it hard to sustain run blocks and mirror him during pass sets. He needs to diversify his rush counters but has the foot quickness and efficiency of movement to cut a cleaner path into the pocket. Sanders is a segmented mover with a slender build and might need a move to 3-4 outside linebacker to keep from being mauled by NFL blocking. He has the potential to earn snaps as a designated pass rusher.
To begin Arizona’s draft on Thursday, the Cardinals traded the No. 23 overall selection to the Baltimore Ravens for wide receiver Marquise Brown and the 100th overall pick.
Arizona kept all three of its picks on Day 2 of the draft Friday. Their second-round choice led them to Colorado State tight end Trey McBride, who was picked 55th overall.
Then the Cardinals turned to the defensive side of the ball, selecting Thomas in the third round with the 87th overall pick.
Moving forward, Arizona currently has two sixth-round picks and three seventh-round selections.