Getty Images Jermaine Johnson scores a touchdown in 2021.
The Arizona Cardinals are likely looking for a successor at pass-rusher in the 2022 NFL draft after losing All-Pro defender Chandler Jones in free agency.
It’s unknown if the Cardinals will find their main career target with the 23rd overall pick or in the later rounds. However, NFL draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah was pretty adamant about how much he loves his top 20 running backs in the upcoming draft.
That should make the Cardinals feel a lot better.
I spent the morning organizing my sequence list for this draft. I love top 20 edge runners. Yes, 20!
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 4, 2022
The search for Jones’ replacement began last week when the Cardinals welcomed running back George Karlaftis for a visit, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:
With the draft approaching on April 28, the Cardinals are visiting two more intriguing prospects.
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According to NFL insider Jordan Schultz, the Cardinals visited Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson on April 12.
[email protected] DE Jermaine Johnson II is visiting the #Cardinals today, according to the source. They also told me that yesterday he was in Detroit with the #Lions.
The 6-foot-5, 262-pound Johnson was the ACC Player of the Year and a 1st Team All-American for the Seminoles.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) April 12, 2022
The defensive end has been climbing mock drafts after amassing 11.5 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss and amassing 70 tackles. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Johnson picked No. 7 overall by the New York Giants and Keith Sanchez of The Draft Network sees the Falcons as a fit with the No. 8 overall pick.
Teams can only host 30 visiting prospects at their facilities, so the Cardinals’ interest is worth taking a closer look at. Johnson also hosted a visit to the Detroit Lions, who have the second overall pick.
Johnson, 23, had a breakout season with FSU for the 2021 season after transferring from Georgia. He was the ACC Player of the Year and a first-team All-American and could go as high as the top 10 picks in the draft.
While the Lions aren’t likely to draft Johnson, Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline reported that the New York Jets have been in “constant contact” with the Florida State pass-rusher. Pauline also told Heavy on Jets writer Paul Esden Jr. that the Jets’ fourth overall pick will come down to either Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner or Johnson.
It seems unlikely that the Cardinals would dip into the waters to trade in the top 10 to draft Johnson.
But things could easily change.
The Bears had Cincinnati EDGE Myjai Sanders visit on April 12, as first reported by Josh Norris:
Sanders is the second top prospect the Cardinals looked at on April 12. But unlike Johnson, the Cardinals’ chances of signing Sanders are much more likely.
While Sanders’ numbers dropped in 2021, totaling 2 1/2 sacks, he could be a steal for many teams, including the Cardinals. The 6’5, 255-pound pass-rusher recorded 31 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2020 and was an All-AAC first-team selection.
It was invited to the Senior Bowl in 2022 and stood out in the eyes of event director Jim Nagy, who said it “could look like the steal of Day 2 in 2-3 years.” According to Nagy, Sanders had the fifth-fastest full throttle of any player in the Senior Bowl.
One prospect who could look like the Day 2 steal in 2-3 years is @GoBearcatsFB EDGE Myjai Sanders. @MyjaiSanders had the 5th fastest full throttle (5.88) among all players in Senior Bowl behind just 3 DB and 1 LB. This is what that kind of explosive closure explosion looks like in a field.🔥 pic.twitter.com/KImQNcj1XO
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 27, 2022
At the NFL Combine, Sanders ran the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds, putting him among the best at his position. But analysts at The Draft Network gave Sanders a consensus rating of 74.30 out of 100, putting him at fourth-round value. In terms of measurements, the negative aspects that still exist are the size of the hand and the length of the arm.
Sanders remains an intriguing prospect that CBS Sports analyst Chris Trapasso placed third in the racing class of 2022.
The Cardinals have a second- and third-round pick, but no fourth- or fifth-round pick in 2022. Sanders would have to be drafted with the 55th or 87th pick to be a Cardinal.
With a pressing need to rush the passer, the Cardinals might consider Sanders an easy option.
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