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As Combine Arrives, Monti Ossenfort Knows Work In Front Of Cardinals

GM thinks processes are settled after hectic arrival in 2023

GM Monti Ossenfort (right) and coach Jonathan Gannon during an interview at the 2023 Scouting combine.
GM Monti Ossenfort (right) and coach Jonathan Gannon during an interview at the 2023 Scouting combine.

INDIANAPOLIS – When Monti Ossenfort looks at his 2023 draft class, the Cardinals GM – like every GM every year – hopes to see a significant jump in those players' second season.

It makes sense. Rookies come it, heads spinning from the whirlwind draft process after their last college season and then go right into months of learning the pro game. In Year Two, they know what to expect.

Ossenfort, in some ways, is in the same position.

As the GM and the Cardinals' decision-makers headed to the annual Scouting combine Monday, Ossenfort has a chance to make a jump himself. Not that his "rookie season" was lacking after wheeling and dealing on draft night 2023 to set him up with the 11 draft picks and two in the first round.

But given that at this time last season the Cardinals were still trying to fill out the coaching staff among other things, Ossenfort's trip to Indy – and the offseason approaching – comes with it a certain calm.

"Where the jump comes is everyone has a little bit better idea of their processes coming their way," Ossenfort said. "Getting the coaches up to speed on free agency as well as myself getting up to speed on free agency, and keeping up with the college process, just from the time standpoint we haven't had to spend as much time getting everything settled. Now it's, while there is still a ton of work to do, the work is where it is supposed to be."

The Cardinals spent the week of Feb. 12 with scouts doing draft prep, and last week meeting with the coaching staff about free agents. After the Scouting combine, there will be a laundry list of Pro Days to attend and analyze.

The first day of free agency is March 13, with teams and agents of players from other teams allowed to officially start talking on March 11.

In between there will be work in both the draft and the free agency buckets.

"The college process is a lot of projection and how they will fit," Ossenfort said, "whereas the free agency stuff is, guys kind of are what they are. There are not a lot of secrets. It's more about the financial implications and how they fit in the current structure."

Ossenfort and coach Jonathan Gannon are scheduled to speak with the Combine media on Tuesday. Interviews with the players by the team start soon after, along with the all-important medical tests and the lesser important on-field drills.

Gannon has some time before he gets his players back on the field and gets to institute his second-year lessons with the team. Ossenfort's time is now, the next two months the most important of his year.

"The second you start thinking 'I've got this figured out' that's when issues hit," Ossenfort said. "There is always more than enough work to do. It's more of, 'I know what's coming down the chute next.'"