TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals raided the Mountain West Conference for a pair of players they hope can help continue their upward trajectory in the NFC West.
The Cardinals selected Colorado State tight end Trey McBride with the No. 55 overall pick in the second round before turning to the defense, adding San Diego State edge rusher Cameron Thomas with the No. 87 pick in the third round.
Arizona added another edge rusher with Friday’s final pick, grabbing Cincinnati’s Myjai Sanders at No. 100 overall. They received that pick as part of a trade that happened Thursday, when the Cardinals acquired receiver Marquise Brown from the Ravens in return for the No. 23 overall pick.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound McBride was a first-team AP All-American during his senior season, catching 90 passes for 1,121 yards and a touchdown. The pick was somewhat surprising: The Cardinals already have two quality tight ends under contract in Zach Ertz and Maxx Williams.
Still, the front office felt he was too good a talent to pass up. General manager Steve Keim said he was easily the highest-rated player remaining on their board.
“By far, the highest grade,” Keim said. “People ask what you like about him. The question is what’s not to like about him. He’s a special human, special player.”
McBride said he’s excited to learn from Ertz and Williams and hopes he can contribute in a hurry. The tight end added that he recently spent four months training in Phoenix and “fell in love” with the city.
“I think I’m a very unique guy, a guy who can really do it all,” McBride said. “I can be an asset in the run game … and I’m also a guy who can go catch balls and be a third-down tight end.”
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Thomas gives the Cardinals a pass rusher who was extremely productive at San Diego State, where he tied a Mountain West record with 20 1/2 tackles for loss last season. He also had 11 1/2 sacks.
Arizona was looking for players who could put pressure on the opposing team’s quarterback after losing Chandler Jones, who signed with the Las Vegas Raiders during free agency. Jones is Arizona’s all-time franchise sacks leader with 71 1/2 over six seasons.
Thomas and Sanders may not be able to replace Jones, but they do give the Cardinals some options. Sanders had 41 tackles last season for the Bearcats, including 7 1/2 tackles for a loss.
“You can’t have enough of those guys in your locker room,” Keim said.
The Cardinals have five picks on Saturday, but none of them are before the sixth round.
It’s been an eventful draft for the Cardinals, who filled a need at receiver on Thursday by trading for Brown, who was Kyler Murray’s college teammate at Oklahoma.
The Cardinals were hunting for a No. 2 pass catcher to pair with three-time All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins. Brown caught 91 passes, including six touchdowns, for 1,008 yards last season for the Ravens.
Despite those numbers, Brown had asked the Ravens for a trade, preferring a team that had a more wide-open offensive philosophy.
“I’m really excited to play with Hop and it’s gonna be crazy, you know, ’cause I’ve been facing the number one corners,” Brown said in an interview on SiriusXM’s show ‘I Am Athlete Tonight.’ “So I’m really excited to be able to help relieve stress off of him and come in and I feel like we’re gonna have a high-powered offense. I feel like it’s gonna be a pick your poison type of thing.”
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