ARIZONA CARDINALS

Marvin Harrison Jr. gets the Larry Fitzgerald seal of approval

Apr 25, 2024, 9:23 PM | Updated: 10:38 pm

The Cardinals pleased the masses on Thursday. They drafted a wide receiver with great genes, great stats and real star power. You could almost hear the entire state of Arizona cheering loudly when they selected Marvin Harrison Jr. with the No. 4 overall pick, including the great Larry Fitzgerald.

“Generational talent,” Fitzgerald said.

The Cardinals did a smart thing on Thursday. They chose not to get in their own way during the first round of the NFL Draft. They made the obvious choice with absolute conviction, unlike Suns general manager James Jones and Tyrese Haliburton. They didn’t recklessly value quantity over quality, as the Cardinals once did while passing on Terrell Suggs.

The Cardinals filled a pressing need at wide receiver. They gave Kyler Murray a large target and a transcendent weapon. They fortified an offense that beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh and the Eagles in Philadelphia — an offense that is growing into something very physical and extremely dangerous.

Harrison Jr. seems like a can’t-miss prospect. He is Arizona’s most celebrated first-round draft pick since Matt Leinart in 2006. Some old-school types may have cringed at Harrison Jr.’s apparent disdain for the NFL Combine, but this is not a diva or a problem child or a player who needs to prove himself among the stopwatch crowd.

Like Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorsese, the film speaks for itself.

His in-game speed never wavers, which speaks volumes about his competitiveness. While not considered a high-end burner, he ran 22.2 miles per hour on an explosive play against Youngstown State in September 2023. Like DeAndre Hopkins, he knows how to get uncovered, and he is lethal in the red zone, where space and touchdowns are hard to find.

It also appears the Cardinals were not overly tempted or burdened with trade offers. Harrison Jr. landed with the Cardinals in between a dizzying run of quarterbacks, six of whom were chosen in the first 12 picks.

But there was clearly a pause and a market reset after Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye were selected in the first three picks. And with the Giants tapping out of the quarterback market, there was not nearly enough desperation/desire among teams wishing to trade up with the Cardinals.

Things could’ve been different. General Manager Monti Ossenfort was lauded for his sharp-witted maneuverings during his inaugural draft with the Cardinals. After trading down with the then-lowly Texans in 2023, there was a realistic hope that the Cardinals might have a pair of top-five picks in the 2024 draft, including the ability to trade one of them for a king’s ransom.

Those golden tickets never materialized. But the Cardinals might’ve secured the most talented player in the draft just the same, a player whose greatness is both consistent and relentless. A wide receiver who comes with Fitzgerald’s weighty seal of approval.

The latter goes a long way in Arizona.

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

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