ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals GM Ossenfort recovers in draft after tampering blunder

Apr 27, 2023, 8:27 PM | Updated: Apr 28, 2023, 9:40 am

GLENDALE — Grades won’t be ready for years. But I give Monti Ossenfort an ‘A’ for attitude.

The Cardinals’ rookie general manager shook off an embarrassing professional blunder revealed just before the NFL Draft commenced. He took calls, worked scenarios, juggled the numbers.

After a night spent on the clock and under a spotlight, he sounded like a kid who had just discovered rollercoasters.

“Guys, you cannot imagine how much fun I just had,” he told Arizona Sports. “It was unbelievable. It was exciting. It was intense. It was awesome. I’d like to lie and say I wasn’t giddy up there the whole time. (But) it was awesome. It was great to be a part of.”

Translation: No matter what you think of his debut draft performance on Thursday, Ossenfort felt very comfortable in the moment, under pressure, in control of an entire organization. And judging by his tone, he thinks he did pretty well.

That’s a fair assessment. To recap:

Before the draft began, we all learned the Cardinals were being sanctioned for tampering, losing 28 spots in the third round as a penalty for impermissible contact with new head coach Jonathan Gannon while he was still Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator. It was a rookie mistake self-reported by the Cardinals and yet another embarrassing moment in the recent history of this franchise.

Tampering to obtain a legendary coach like Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick or Sean Payton? Understandable. Breaking the rules for a largely anonymous coach with no other options, a guy already held in contempt by a chunk of the Eagles fan base? Ugh.

The news elicited a collective groan from the fan base, and later, Ossenfort publicly apologized for the blunder.

Ossenfort then traded out of the No. 3 spot for a decent haul, but nothing like the king’s ransoms we’ve seen in the past. And just when hopes were sagging on the Great Lawn and across the state of Arizona, he deftly traded back up in the draft, landing offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr., the preferred protector of Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.

In sum, he turned picks Nos. 3, 34 and 105 into a behemoth from Ohio State, the 33rd overall pick, and first- and third-round picks in the 2024 draft. And before he turned out the lights on Day 1, he shrewdly served notice to the rest of the NFL that he isn’t in the business of giving away DeAndre Hopkins.

“I think we got better tonight,” Ossenfort said. “And I’m excited about it.”

Redemption? At the very least, this was a nice recovery from a general manager who looks like he’s built for the stress of his profession and the long rebuild ahead.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. on Arizona Sports.

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