The following is an excerpt from Warren Sharp’s 2024 Football Preview book. In addition to Warren’s deep, detailed write-up on all 32 NFL teams, each chapter features page after page of full-color charts, stats, and heatmaps as well as draft class analysis from Ryan McCrystal. Click here for a full FREE chapter from the 2024 Football Preview.

With 2024 NFL training camps on the horizon, we’re starting to understand how 2024 NFL draft classes will impact each roster this season.

Let’s look at the Arizona Cardinals, breaking down the most likely instant-impact rookies from each class, while also providing some insight into why certain early picks may not see the field.

Who are the Arizona Cardinals rookies?

  • Marvin Harrison Jr. — WR — Round 1
  • Darius Robinson — DL — Round 1
  • Max Melton — CB — Round 2
  • Trey Benson — RB — Round 3
  • Isaiah Adams — OT — Round 3
  • Elijah Jones — CB — Round 3
  • Dadrion Taylor-Demerson — S — Round 4
  • Xavier Thomas — EDGE — Round 5
  • Christian Jones — OT — Round 5
  • Tejhaun Palmer — WR — Round 6
  • Jaden Davis — CB — Round 7

Arizona Cardinals Draft Class Grade:

The Arizona Cardinals received an A draft grade from Sharp Football.

Which Cardinals Rookies Will Make An Impact?

Arizona wisely avoided the temptation to trade down and secured arguably the best all-around player in the draft in Marvin Harrison Jr. (first round).

Harrison is known for his ability to make plays downfield, but he is far more than just a deep threat. Based on route-adjusted data, Harrison produced 15.7% more yards after the catch than expected. As a team, Arizona ranked 30th by that metric last year, so Harrison should make an impact in all phases of the passing game. 

Darius Robinson (first round) provides versatility, but it’s not immediately clear how he fits into Jonathan Gannon’s defense.

Arizona lined up in a three-man front 60% of the time last season. Robinson has the strength and length to play defensive end in a three-man front. However, if that’s the plan, it’s a questionable investment in a less valuable and easier to fill position. The ideal role for Robinson would probably be playing in four-man fronts, likely on the edge on early downs and sliding inside on passing downs. 

Max Melton (second round) should start immediately at cornerback, and the selection might signal a shift in Arizona’s scheme. Rutgers played man coverage at the 11th-highest rate in the nation in 2023. Arizona played man at the fifth-lowest rate in the NFL (15%). 

Trey Benson (third round) looks like an ideal complement to James Conner – if he doesn’t win the starting job. In the short term, Benson’s athleticism should get him on the field on passing downs, but he also has the power to be an early-down back. When accounting for defenders in the box and the inside/outside direction of the run, Benson gained 15% more yards than expected in 2023, the second-highest mark in the ACC. 

Arizona added to the offensive line with the selections of Isaiah Adams (third round) and Christian Jones (fifth round). Adams struggled at right tackle for Illinois in 2023, but was a formidable guard the previous season and likely competes for a starting role there for Arizona. Jones will likely be Arizona’s swing tackle. He made double digit starts at each tackle position during his career at Texas. 

Tip Reiman (third round) was an odd choice at that position of the draft. He falls on the Rob Gronkowski spectrum as a tight end with throwback size but modern athleticism. Unfortunately, that blend of strength and speed never materialized into pass-game production at Illinois, so Arizona will try to develop him further. 

Cornerback Elijah Jones (third round) could prove to be one of the steals of the draft. Jones generated a ball-hawk rate 83% above expected based on route-adjusted data over his final two years at Boston College. He then proved that production was no fluke with a 42-inch vertical. Melton has a leg up for the starting job opposite Sean Murphy-Bunting given his draft slot, but Jones will put up a fight. 

Jaden Davis (seventh round) will join them on the cornerback depth chart but is likely fighting for a job on special teams. Davis’ route-adjusted ball-hawk rate over the last two years was 36% below expected.

Arizona will likely attempt to groom Dadrion Taylor-Demerson (fourth round) as Budda Baker’s eventual replacement. Like Baker, Taylor-Demerson is more physical than his size would indicate and has a knack for finding the ball in coverage.

Edge Xavier Thomas (fifth round) is a former five-star recruit who spent six years at Clemson and never lived up to expectations. The traits that made him a top recruit are still there, so it was worth rolling the dice on Day 3.

Tejhaun Palmer (sixth round) is an older prospect, six years removed from high school, but has just two years of starting experience at UAB. He has the size and speed to be developed into a downfield threat but likely doesn’t play a role in 2024. 

Arizona potentially added four immediate starters and a few others with legitimate starting potential down the road. 12 total picks certainly helped reach those numbers, but give GM Monti Ossenfort credit for playing the game and stockpiling picks. Given the depth of this class, chances are a few of these guys turn into long-term impact starters.

This analysis continues in the 2024 Football Preview

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Draft Class Analysis for All 32 Teams
Arizona Cardinals
Atlanta Falcons
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Cincinnati Bengals
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Dallas Cowboys
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
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