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In making draft projections, don’t sleep on Cardinals OL Jon Gaines II

The most recent mock draft by NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein projects the Arizona Cardinals will select Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson with the 27th pick in the first round. This selection perhaps overlooks the current state of the roster.

This is nothing anything against Powers-Johnson. However, with Arizona’s 2023 draft picks accounting for 108 games played and 52 starts, one draft pick from last year seemed to be overlooked. Center Jon Gaines II, who was selected in the fourth round, was impressive throughout training camp, but suffered a knee injury early in the final preseason game against the Vikings and was on injured reserve for the entire season. Had he not gotten injured, those games played and games started very possibly would have been even higher, especially considering the Cardinals ended up starting four different players at left guard.

It is believed Gaines underwent surgery, but he is busy rehabbing and very much in the team’s plans going forward. He could end up playing guard, but the play of Hjalte Froholdt and a healthy Gaines should have the Cardinals going in a different direction late in the first round.

At the NFL combine, general manager Monti Ossenfort said of Gaines, “Jon was off to a good start and unfortunately, we keep coming back to these injuries. It’s too bad. But Jon is doing well. Jon is doing really well. He’s in the building every day. He’s rehabbing with us onsite. I love Jon. Jon’s got a good future ahead of him. It was unfortunate with that injury happening in the third preseason game. But he’s making progress, he’s grinding through his rehab and we’re excited to get to a point where we can get him back out on the field.”

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Story originally appeared on Cards Wire