Cardinals earn props from ESPN’s Aaron Schatz on under-25 talent list

Jul 4, 2024, 2:00 PM | Updated: Jul 8, 2024, 4:20 pm

An Arizona Cardinals helmet on the ground at practice on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 in Tempe, Ariz. (...

An Arizona Cardinals helmet on the ground at practice on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 in Tempe, Ariz. (Photo: Logan Newman/98.7 FM Arizona Sports)

(Photo: Logan Newman/98.7 FM Arizona Sports)

The Arizona Cardinals have some promising young talent on their roster, and ESPN’s Aaron Schatz placed the Cardinals at sixth in his list of under-25 talent collections across the NFL.

It’s a noticeable jump from last year as the Cardinals placed 28th on the list.

After receiving solid production from their rookie class last season, Schatz noted a trio of players in offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. and receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. and Michael Wilson:

The Cardinals rise substantially up this list because their 2023 draft picks had strong rookie seasons. That starts with the 23-year-old Johnson, who will move from right tackle to left tackle this season. Edge rusher BJ Ojulari is 22 and had four sacks and 40 tackles a season ago. Wilson, who is 24, was tied for 24th in ESPN’s receiver tracking metrics in 2023 and contributed with 565 yards on 38 receptions.

A first-round pick by the Cardinals last year, Johnson started all 17 games at right tackle as a rookie.

However, the move to protect quarterback Kyler Murray’s blind side comes after the release of longtime left tackle D.J. Humphries in March. Johnson has experience playing left tackle, having done so in his final year at Ohio State.

Ojulari played in all 17 games as a rookie but did not start. The Cardinals’ 2023 second-round pick was a part of Arizona’s pass-rushing rotation throughout most of the season.

His best performance came in Week 10 versus the Atlanta Falcons where he had two sacks and eight combined tackles.

Wilson started 12 of 13 games played during his rookie season. The Cardinals’ 2023 third-round pick finished third on the team in both receptions and receiving yards.

With the departure of wide receivers Rondale Moore and Marquise Brown, Wilson could be a prime candidate to move into the second wide receiver spot behind Harrison.

Besides the young talent from last year’s draft, Schatz also mentioned some other young names on the roster as well:

To that trio, you can add two 22-year-old first-round rookies: Harrison and defensive end Darius Robinson. We also credit Arizona for a second-round pick this year (cornerback Max Melton) and four third-round picks. The Cardinals also have 24-year-old tight end Trey McBride, who had 825 receiving yards last season, and several young cornerbacks, including Garrett Williams (23), Kei’Trel Clark (23) and Starling Thomas V (24).

ESPN projected Harrison, Robinson, Melton and third-round running back Trey Benson to produce as rookies relative to their position group.

There is also a chance that other third-round selections in tight end Tip Reiman, guard Isaiah Adams and cornerback Elijah Jones will make considerable contributions this season.

Tight end Trey McBride is coming off a historic season for the Cardinals. He set the Cardinals’ single-season record for the most receptions by a tight end with 81 and became the first tight end since Robert Awalt in 1989 to have a 100-yard receiving game for the Cardinals.

Cornerbacks Garrett Williams, Kei’Trel Clark and Starling Thomas also made their presence on the field last season known.

Drafted in the third-round of the 2023 draft, Williams was still recovering from a torn ACL in his final year at Syracuse. In his rookie season, he started six of nine games played notching one interception.

Clark, who was the Cardinals 2023 sixth-round pick, started seven of 14 games played recording 43 tackles, two for loss, and four passes defensed. He also spent time on special teams.

Thomas went undrafted in 2023 and was claimed off waivers by the Cardinals in August of last year. He started seven of 12 games played recording 38 tackles, one for loss, and had five passes defensed.

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