Daniel Jeremiah: NFL Draft is Cardinals’ moment to set up franchise for years to come

Apr 18, 2024, 10:45 AM

The Arizona Cardinals watched firsthand as the Houston Texans used the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft to address massive needs at primetime positions.

Heck, the Cardinals even played a part in the Texans’ one-year transformation, dealing Houston their No. 3 overall pick which was later used on NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson Jr. in exchange for the AFC South team’s second first-round pick at No. 12.

With Anderson and No. 2 overall pick quarterback C.J. Stroud — who took home Offensive Rookie Player of the Year honors — on the roster, the Texans put the league on notice with their first postseason appearance since 2019.

Given the Cardinals’ draft capital in the first round and beyond, could general manager Monti Ossenfort be on the precipice of a similar spike in trajectory?

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah is certainly under that belief.

“I can’t wait to see what he does,” Jeremiah said during a pre-draft conference call on Wednesday. “There are some things you want to get accomplished here. No. 1, you still need blue-chip players. You can’t always trade back and just keep getting more and more and more picks. Eventually, you got to add more. I think there’s a way they can serve all these masters. In other words, they get some impact players, they still move around the board a little bit and hopefully continue to add picks into the future. Keep that alive. I love it when you have all this capital.

“I think they’re at a prime position to get out of No. 4 if they want to and come back up and still get one of those three wide receivers. If they think those guys are close … I think they can get one of those guys, which is a top-five player, while also getting something extra. This is a set-your-franchise-up situation here for the Arizona Cardinals. This is their moment here, so they need to get some guys who really make a difference for them.”

Keep an eye on the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 5 overall

Throughout the mock draft season, there’s been a recurring theme that if the Cardinals pass on Harrison Jr. at No. 4 overall, the Los Angeles Chargers would be right there waiting to swoop him up a pick later.

No more Keenan Allen. No more Mike Williams. It just makes sense.

Or does it?

“I think in an ideal world, they’d like to get out of there, trade back and get extra picks and kind of build out as many players that kind of fit (first-year coach Jim Harbaugh’s) vision for the team,” Jeremiah said. “I think this makes sense to be kind of a volume draft for them. Come away with some extra picks, continue to add guys that fit their new physical philosophy of how they want to play the game.

“There’s been a lot of debate. Do they take a receiver? Do they take an offensive lineman? What do they do there at No. 5? I think the overwhelming preference would be that they don’t pick at No. 5, that they get out of there and they find somebody that wants to come up and then they can continue to fill out the needs of the team.”

Jeremiah adds that while a lot of the focus has been on the Chargers’ offense this draft season, the team could absolutely use reinforcements at defensive tackle and cornerback while also addressing inside linebacker at some point.

On one side, the Chargers dealing their pick to one of the quarterback-needy teams means the trade window is that much smaller for Ossenfort and Co.

But on the other, the Chargers moving down could give the Cardinals some added wiggle room to facilitate a trade of their own and still land Harrison or any of the other two top wideouts in the draft class.

One team that stands out is the New York Giants, who are reportedly mulling over whether they should select a top quarterback in the first round or stick with Daniel Jones.

With the No. 6 pick, the Giants wouldn’t have to break the bank to move up to No. 4. Maybe attach one of their two other top 70 picks and call it good?

Ossenfort and the Cardinals meanwhile could still net additional draft capital on top of still being in the position to have their pick of the top wide receiver prospects.

Timing would be everything in this scenario. The Chargers could very well move off their pick after the Cardinals make a decision at No. 4. But it would be an interesting avenue for Arizona to consider that checks a couple of boxes early into the draft.

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