CARDINALS CORNER

Players to watch at 2024 NFL Scouting Combine for Arizona Cardinals

Feb 26, 2024, 5:50 PM | Updated: Feb 27, 2024, 9:15 am

Rome Odunze looks on...

Rome Odunze #1 of the Washington Huskies celebrates a reception against the Utah Utes during the second quarter at Husky Stadium on November 11, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The 2024 NFL Scouting Combine kicks off this week with a plethora of hopeful prospects looking to boost their stock ahead of April’s draft.

For the Arizona Cardinals and the rest of the league, it marks yet another opportunity to evaluate players both on and off the field.

And although there are a few big names not taking part in the physical portion of the combine — Marvin Harrison Jr., Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels — there are still plenty of athletes to keep tabs on as the week unfolds and teams begin meeting with prospects.

A closer look at which players you should have on your radar when it comes to the Cardinals’ first-round options:

If the Arizona Cardinals stand pat at No. 4 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft

– Rome Odunze, WR (Washington)

As we creep closer and closer to the NFL Draft, it seems more and more evident that using the No. 4 pick on anything but a wide receiver — even if Harrison is off the board — should be out of the question for the Cardinals.

Sure, they could use some reinforcing on both sides of the trenches or a lockdown cornerback, but with three top-tier receiving options expected to be available when the Cardinals are on the clock, giving quarterback Kyler Murray and offensive coordinator Drew Petzing another weapon is the way to go.

And with both Harrison and LSU’s Malik Nabers opting against on-the-field work and testing at the combine, the last man standing in the grouping is Washington’s Rome Odunze.

Expected to participate in both on-field work and off-field interviews, the wideout could make a case to go inside the top 5 given his strong resume with a strong week in Indianapolis.

Odunze is fresh of Washington’s national championship run, where he snagged 92 balls for 1,640 yards and 13 scores across 15 games played. He chipped in another score to go along with 37 yards on two carries and has been compared to Cardinals great Larry Fitzgerald by NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein.

And as likely known by now, wide receiver is among the biggest needs for the Cardinals in 2024 with Michael Wilson and Rondale Moore currently the biggest names inside Arizona’s WRs room.

If the Arizona Cardinals trade down from the No. 4 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft

– Joe Alt, OT (Notre Dame)

– Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT (Penn State)

– Laiatu Latu, OLB (UCLA)

– Terrion Arnold, CB (Alabama)

– Dallas Turner, OLB (Alabama)

– Nate Wiggins, CB (Clemson)

If Arizona doesn’t go with one of the top wide-receiving prospects at No. 4, it seems more and more likely that trading out of the pick entirely is the move for general manager Monti Ossenfort.

And given the amount of teams that either know they need a hard reset at quarterback or the ones that are murky at best when it comes to the position, there’s a lot of movement that could be had on Arizona’s side of things.

For this exercise, we’re going to look at the four teams — Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders and Seattle Seahawks — in the Nos. 11-16 range, though making a deal with a division rival seems rare.

Coming off the No. 4 pick and landing somewhere in the top half of the draft board would give Arizona options at offensive tackle, pass rusher and cornerback on top of wide receiver if either Nabers or Odunze are still available.

From a tackle standpoint, either Notre Dame’s Joe Alt or Penn State’s Olu Fashanu would be a steal for the Cardinals, who could potentially find their bookend to 2023 first-round pick Paris Johnson Jr.

Both coming off years of working from the left side of the line, Fashanu and Alt kept their QBs upright more times than not throughout their college careers. Per Pro Football Focus, Fashanu allowed no sacks across 24 games played from 2021-23, while Alt allowed four sacks in 36 games played from 2021-23.

That’s not to say there won’t be competition for either Alt or Fashanu should they become Cardinals, with veteran Kelvin Beachum still on the roster.

And if tackle isn’t the answer, what about pass rusher?

Two names pop when looking at the draft’s outside linebacking pool in UCLA’s Laiatu Latu and Alabama’s Dallas Turner.

Despite medically retiring from football in 2020 due to a neck injury during his time in Washington, Latu returned to the field as a member of the UCLA Bruins in 2022 and produced behind 10.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.

He took another step this past season with 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss.

Turner on the other hand is coming off 10 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss, both career highs, across 14 games played in 2023.

After watching the Cardinals’ pass rush ranking 30th in sacks last season, either one should help move the needle in the right direction.

Adding a first-round pass rusher not your flavor? How about cornerback?

Alabama’s Terrion Arnold is the draft’s top cornerback prospect this year after racking up 63 tackles, 6.5 of which were for loss, five interceptions (first in the SEC), one sack and 12 passes defensed across 14 games played.

Not far behind him is Nate Wiggins, who snagged a pair of interceptions to go along with 29 tackles, a sack and six passes defensed in 10 games played.

The Cardinals secondary last season had a big youth movement with rookies Garrett Williams, Starling Thomas and Kei’Trel Clark all playing meaningful roles.

And while adding a proven veteran cornerback through free agency might be the better option for the franchise, giving cornerbacks coach Ryan Smith another youngster to mold isn’t a worst-case scenario by any means.

Names to watch at the combine when it comes to the Arizona Cardinals’ No. 27 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft

– JC Latham, OT (Alabama)

– Tyler Guyton, OT (Oklahoma)

– Jordan Morgan, OT (Arizona)

– Taliese Fuaga, OT (Oregon State)

– Chop Robinson, DE (Penn State)

– Darius Robinson, DE (Missouri)

– Quinyon Mitchell, CB (Toledo)

– Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB (Missouri)

Last but not least is Arizona’s No. 27 overall pick and a pool of prospects from both sides of the line and the secondary.

Once again, there’s a good chance the Cardinals can find Johnson a new running mate at tackle with one of Alabama’s JC Latham, Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton, Arizona’s Jordan Morgan and Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga.

Two of the four stand out for different reasons.

Guyton has watched his stock rise after putting up an impressive week at the Senior Bowl. A strong showing at the combine should only further his first-round standing. Having a Sooners tie doesn’t hurt, either.

Latham would also give the Cardinals a legit starting option right out of the gates and could cement in as the unquestioned option at right tackle, moving Johnson back to the left side.

Flip to the other side of the line and you’ll find Penn State’s Chop Robinson and Missouri’s Darius Robinson.

The latter could very well end up as an early Day 2 selection, but if he puts on a show at the combine, there’s a chance he could sneak into the first round as a late pick having already impressed at the Senior Bowl this offseason and registering 8.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss across 12 games played for Missouri in 2023.

Wrapping up the grouping for the 27th pick are two cornerbacks in Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell and Missouri’s Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

Much like Guyton and Darius Robinson, Mitchell was a Senior Bowl standout after totaling six interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, 37 passes defensed and 82 tackles across 27 games from 2022-23. He primarily played out wide for Toledo.

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