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Hamilcar Rashed Would Welcome Another Arizona-Centric Cardinals Draft

Phoenix native has watched fellow high school stars Christian Kirk, Byron Murphy head back home

OLB Hamilcar Rashed Jr., shown here at the Senior Bowl, is hoping to make up for a down senior season with a stellar pre-draft showing.
OLB Hamilcar Rashed Jr., shown here at the Senior Bowl, believes his 2019 season is more indicative of his ability than 2020.

Hamilcar Rashed has noticed.

The Cardinals don't head into drafts expecting to add someone with an Arizona connection, but it's been the case three years running.

Wide receiver Christian Kirk, the former Scottsdale Saguaro star, was chosen in the second round in 2018. Cornerback Byron Murphy Jr., Kirk's former high school teammate, went in the second round of 2019. Last year, it was Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin selected in the seventh.

There aren't a bunch of options this season. Arizona State wide receiver Frank Darby, Arizona State safety Aashari Crosswell and Arizona running back Gary Brightwell may be the best college hopes, while Rashed, a Phoenix native, could be the main chance from the local high school scene.

If the Oregon State outside linebacker does get selected by the Cardinals, he will be happy to continue the tradition.

"I always thought about going to the Cardinals," Rashed said. "That would be a fun thing. I see a lot of Arizona people going to the Cardinals. They draft them there and they're doing great. Christian Kirk. Byron Murphy. I feel like they're great fits and doing great there."

Rashed entered the 2020 season with plans to solidify his draft stock, but those went awry. After a junior season in which he accumulated 14 sacks in 11 games, the 6-foot-2, 251-pound pass-rusher didn't register a sack in seven games as a senior.

He admits a year marred by COVID-19 and injuries was frustrating, but is confident the ability he showed in 2019 is the prospect an NFL team will get in the draft.

"I know the type of player I am," Rashed said. "I know what I bring to the table. … I feel like I'm still the best pass-rusher in here. I have elite bend. All of that stuff is not going to stop from one year to the next. If you pick me, you'll see what you get."

Rashed compares his game to that of Von Miller, the undersized but ultra-athletic All-Pro outside linebacker for the Broncos.

"Nobody can beat his bend," Rashed said. "I feel like I have the same ability. I have the best bend in this draft process."

Rashed originally attended Cesar Chavez High School in Phoenix and went to Chandler High for his senior year. He graduated in 2016, the same year as Murphy, Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry and Arizona State cornerback Chase Lucas.

If Rashed does return to Arizona, he would add to a defensive front that includes All-Pros Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt.

"That's a great duo right there," Rashed said. "Two unstoppable forces. Obviously I would love to learn from them, but we'll see what happens."

The season was unlike any other due to the coronavirus, and the draft process has also been unique. Rashed normally would have attended the NFL Scouting combine for workouts and interviews with teams.

Instead, his Pro Day was the big testing event, and he's been doing virtual meetings. It's another hurdle to clear, but Rashed feels like he will stick the landing.

"There were limitations with this COVID season, but I feel like overall I'm doing great," he said. "My body is great. I feel like I did a lot of good stuff at Pro Day, so we'll see what happens."

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