Lance Zierlein: If Cardinals trade No. 4 pick, expect them to move back up

Apr 21, 2024, 1:28 PM | Updated: 2:00 pm

Monti Ossenfort...

General manager Monti Ossenfort of the Arizona Cardinals looks on before the game against the New York Giants at State Farm Stadium on September 17, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It is becoming increasingly popular among national outlets to publish mock drafts in which the Arizona Cardinals move off the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft, which is where longtime analyst Lance Zierlein landed.

At the same time, Zierlein expects Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort, given the draft trove he possesses, to be aggressive moving back up if that is the case. The Cardinals also have the Nos. 27 and 35 picks and a trio of third-rounders.

“I had Monti trading down with the Minnesota Vikings and then trading back up to get his hands on Dallas Turner,” Zierlein told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta this past week. “I think at some point, collecting all this draft capital is great, but you need to sit down and take some really good players. So even if he did trade back out of the No. 4 spot, I think he would be at some point aggressive in moving back up.

“I think that’s normal, you trade back to gain some amount of capital, and you trade back up and still get the players you like. I’ll say there’s a 40% chance, probably close to 35% chance, he moves the pick. But if he does move the pick, I’d say there’s about an 80% chance that he aggressively moves up either back into the first round or moves up early in the second round.”

Ossenfort did this last year when he traded down from No. 3 to No. 12 and back up to No. 6 for offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr.

Quarterbacks are expected to go with the top three picks, giving the Cardinals unique control over the rest of the first round.

There are several teams rumored to be in the mix to trade up for a quarterback, including the Vikings at No. 11 who lost Kirk Cousins to the Atlanta Falcons in free agency. Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell recently made a joke about possibly sending a bouquet to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, whose team owns the No. 3 overall pick.

The Las Vegas Raiders (No. 13) , Denver Broncos (No. 12) and New York Giants (No. 6) are others. Giants general manager Joe Schoen complimented the quarterback class given the experience of many top prospects during his pre-draft press conference but also expressed optimism in Daniel Jones as their starter.


Zierlein said he’d be shocked if the Cardinals don’t have their pick of the top receivers if no trade is made. He has Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and LSU’s Malik Nabers slightly ahead of Washington’s Rome Odunze in the top tier, followed by LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr.

“Marvin is the most polished, the most explosive is Malik Nabers and then the best ball winner is Rome Odunze,” Zierlein said. “All of them have good size. Depending on what you covet, what you prioritize as a team as an organizational philosophy, you may have different feelings. There’s plenty of teams that have Malik Nabers ahead of Marvin Harrison Jr. I think everyone will tell you it’s pretty close, that those three are clearly in a different level. … With Malik Nabers, you have somebody who’s more explosive, who’s faster, who has the ability I think to be a bigger deep ball threat. Marvin Harrison Jr. is more polished. The guy with a little higher ceiling for me as Nabers. But typically, when you talk about higher ceiling, you also have to mention a little lower floor than Marvin Harrison Jr.

“I’m interested to see who they feel like fits Kyler Murray the best.”

On Thomas, a potential receiver option if the Cardinals move back and miss out on the top three, Zierlein said the athletic drop-off is minimal.

“The production, the athleticism, the size, everything checks out and talking to people behind the scenes, they’ll tell you he doesn’t quite have the same competitive nature that Malik Nabers has,” Zierlein said. “Not to say he’s not a competitive player … I know his wide receiver coach at LSU told some different scouts that this a guy who has another level of football still in him.

“I think Brian Thomas could be a WR1.”

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