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EDGE Xavier Thomas drafted in Round 5 was a ‘finally’ moment for Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals had exactly one sack over the final six games of the season. That wasn’t even a real sack. Quarterback Justin Field ran out of bound for no gain after he left the pocket. Dennis Gardeck happened to be the closest player.

They did not tackle a quarterback for a loss over six games! As that appeared to be one of the team’s most critical needs in the offseason, they didn’t address it until the fifth round of the NFL draft, when they selected Xavier Thomas out of Clemson.

No free agents, no first-round pick, no Day 2 pick. The fifth round.

Thomas, who was one of the top recruits in the country in 2018, did not have the career at Clemson most would have hoped. He caught COVID and ballooned to 300 pounds, and he dealt with mental health issues.

He bounced back, though. He leaned back down to 244 pounds for his 6-foot-2 frame.

However, if you are looking for sack production, you won’t find much. He had a total of 17.5 over his career — six seasons. He never had more than 4.5 sacks in a season. However, he did have 43 total pressures in his final season, per PFF.

He will turn 25 years old in December of his rookie season.

But he does have high-end athleticism. He posted a 4.62-second 40 and had a 32.5-inch vertical leap and 120-inch broad jump.

He has a quick get-off at the line of scrimmage.

He was projected to be drafted in the fifth or sixth round, so he was picked more or less where he should have been.

However, expecting much from him in the pros is like expecting a big year from Victor Dimukeje, who had a career-high four sacks in 2023, his third NFL season, after no sacks for two years.

He isn’t a bad pick for the fifth round, but it feels irresponsible to have waited that long to address their need on the edge.

Between his age, lack of sack production in college and waiting so long to get an edge defender, I don’t give the pick more than a B-minus.

He might have been the best edge guy to get there, but it is hard to get excited for an old prospect who doesn’t get sacks.

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Story originally appeared on Cards Wire