By Spencer Laws

As the 2023 NFL Combine kicked off on March 2nd at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, five former Cardinals are set to participate in the event. 

This includes quarterback Malik Cunningham, running back Tiyon Evans, defensive end Yaya Diaby, linebacker Yasir Abdullah, and cornerback Kei’Trel Clark. This is another critical step in the draft process for all players as the timeline till draft night closes in on these players. 

The defensive starts off

The defense kicked off the event by starting their drills on Thursday. Diaby and Abdullah will attempt to raise their draft stock in different drills during this process. 

Diaby, who appeared in 13 games this past season, finished with 37 total tackles while attaining 9 sacks with 14 tackles for a loss. Measuring in at 6’3 and 263 pounds, his combine stats include a 4.51 40-yard dash time, and 37″ vertical jump. His total score places him 5th among DE’s at the combine.  

Abdullah also appeared in 13 games finishing with 63 total tackles, 14.5 Tackles for a loss as well as 9.5 sacks. His stats include a 4.47 40-yard dash time, and a 10’9″ broad jump, placing him 11th at all combine linebackers. 

Friday showcased the defensive backs in the different drills. Kei’Trel Clark teed off the affair; he performed in 12 games this year recording 51 total tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 1 interception, and 4 pass breakups. His performance at the combine earned him a 5.80 rating, meaning he’s projected as an “Average Backup or Special-Teamer”

The offense takes over

Quarterbacks unloaded at noon this past Saturday. Cunningham will begin trying to land himself on an NFL roster. He was recently selected 22nd overall by the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions, but clarified that he had “no clue about it”. His intention is to test the NFL waters. 

Malik, of course, is a multi-record holder here at the university; his achievements include passing for over 1500 yards and 8 touchdowns adding 700 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground this season, only appearing in 10 games. 

Though former Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson opted out of running the 40-yard dash in both the NFL Combine and his Louisville pro day, Cunnigham opted in, recording a 4.53. The biggest question for teams is how to fit his dual-threat ability into their offense. 

Running backs and offensive linemen were scheduled for this past Sunday, so Tiyon Evans will “shut” down the event for the Cards.

Evans battled a couple of different injuries this past season only being able to perform in 8 games this season. In those 8 games, the Hartsville, SC native racked up over 500 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns. He grades overall as the 22nd-best runningback.

During this event, all players went through drills, meetings, and interviews with teams to help make their case and point on potentially being drafted. The 2023 NFL Draft is set for April 27th-29th, 2023. 

Photo Courtesy // USA Today //