CARDINALS CORNER

What NFL Draft analysts are saying about potential Cardinals target Marvin Harrison Jr.

Feb 11, 2024, 7:31 AM

Even before the Arizona Cardinals wrapped up their first regular season under head coach Jonathan Gannon — or knew exactly where they were picking in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft — Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. was already being linked to the franchise’s top pick.

Other prospects have since entered the conversation, but there’s still a clear leader in the clubhouse when it comes to Arizona’s No. 4 overall pick.

But what makes Harrison such a hot commodity?

NFL and draft experts recently joined Arizona Sports’ slate of shows to further explain why Harrison is being viewed as a can’t-miss talent.

Draft analysts see Marvin Harrison Jr. as Day 1 NFL starter for Cardinals

It’s clear the Cardinals need help in the wide-receiving department.

Currently, Arizona’s WRs room is headlined by Michael Wilson, Rondale Moore and Zach Pascal, who are all under contract through at least 2024. Of the trio, Wilson did the most damage, recording 565 yards and three touchdowns on 38 catches. The Cardinals also signed Andre Baccellia, Kaden Davis, Daniel Arias, Jeff Smith and Dan Chisena to future deals.

The Cardinals could very well re-sign unrestricted free agent Hollywood Brown or exclusive rights free agent Greg Dortch, but even then, there’s still a deficit that needs addressing at the position.

For many, adding Harrison would give Arizona an instant boost in that department.

“He’s great, he’s truly great,” ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller told Wolf & Luke last Thursday. “To be 6-foot-4 and have the body control that he has, it’s unexpected. I think when people hear ‘Marvin Harrison’ they picture his dad, who was 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. He’s 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and he plays with a craftiness that you don’t expect at that size.

“I think you’re getting a Day 1, true, top-tier wide receiver. He has that type of innate ability and I think the drive to be great.”

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein is in the same camp as Miller.

If Harrison is there for the taking, there should be no ifs, ands or buts about it for general manager Monti Ossenfort.

“A lot of personnel people that I really trust have stressed, ‘You do not pass up on great players. Just go take the great player. If you have him graded as a great player, just don’t mess around with it,'” Zierlein told Wolf & Luke on Monday. “Because once you get a collection of great players and you do a good job of evaluating, you have a chance to be special and compete for Super Bowls and sometimes keep a window open for championships.

“Go get a great player and worry about everything else later. There’s free agency, there’s drafts. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You got to go get great players and you have an opportunity. If he fell into the Cardinals’ lap, you got to snap that up.”

Is Marvin Harrison Jr. the next Larry Fitzgerald?

The Cardinals were graced by Fitzgerald’s presence for 17 years. During that span, he racked up 1,432 catches, 17,492 yards, 121 touchdowns, 11 Pro Bowls and three All-Pro nods.

Could Harrison even get close to emulating the Cardinals legend?

At least one former Fitzgerald teammate and CBS analyst believes so.

“No. 1, he’s an unbelievable ball catcher,” former kicker Jay Feely told Bickley & Marotta in January. “Catching the ball, he’s got great hands. He’s got separation, he has the stop-and-start ability and then you put in the fact that his dad is Marvin Harrison. He understands how to do it.

“When you talk to everyone who’s been around him, they talk about his work ethic and the diligence that he has in his craft. I honestly think he’s the next Larry Fitzgerald. If this team has the ability to get him, I think you run to the podium and turn that pick in.”

On top of the intangibles mentioned by Feely, Harrison would give the Cardinals a bigger No. 1 option at 6-foot-2, much like Fitzgerald was (6-foot-3) during his time in the desert.

Harrison can also stretch the field similar to Fitzgerald, with both posting an average of 16.6 yards or more per reception in college.

And at the end of the day, you can’t argue with what they did in the final two years of college ball:

– Fitzgerald: 161 catches for 2,677 yards and 34 touchdowns in 26 games.

– Harrison: 144 catches for 2,474 yards and 28 touchdowns in 25 games.

Marvin Harrison Jr.’s room for improvement

Harrison is easily the top wide-receiving prospect in this year’s draft. The hype speaks for itself.

That’s not to say he doesn’t have areas of his game to improve upon.

“This is not a flawless prospect,” Miller said. “There are some focus drops. I’d like to see him be a little bit tougher through contact. But that’s coachable, that’s fixable.”

Zierlein also noted Harrison’s uncharacteristic drops and how the wideout can improve his release against press coverage.

But at the end of the day, the good far outweighs the bad when it comes to Harrison’s game, as Zierlein wrote in his evaluation of the pass catcher for NFL.com:

What makes him tough to handle is his consistent play speed paired with quality salesmanship in his routes. He’s able to uncover no matter where he’s aligned or which part of the field his assignment takes him to, and he is capable of finishing catches in a crowd. Harrison can be sudden while working possession routes, and he’s well qualified to beat any opponent with his ball skills if the battle heads deep.

Harrison is a touchdown champ with a variety of ways to excel, and that characteristic figures to follow him into the pros. He has the traits and tools to win in all three phases of the route and on all three levels of the field. He’s a pedigree prospect and a Day 1 starter with high-end production expected.

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