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As Draft Approaches, Monti Ossenfort Favors His Options

Cardinals, picking at 4 and 27 in first round, know they'll get calls to trade

Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort (right) answers a question alongside coach Jonathan Gannon during Thursday's pre-draft press conference in Tempe.
Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort (right) answers a question alongside coach Jonathan Gannon during Thursday's pre-draft press conference in Tempe.

Not once was a name brought up during Wednesday's pre-draft press conference with Cardinals GM coach Monti Ossenfort or coach Jonathan Gannon, even as it stretched past 30 minutes, remarkable with the number of college prospects linked to the team a week before selection night.

But as the question came up about how Ossenfort digests when a particular player becomes a fan favorite to take, it was impossible not to see the name Marvin Harrison Jr. hidden behind the words.

Specifics or not, Ossenfort knows the landscape as the draft approaches. He knows fans have favorites. He may even have one himself. The process doesn't change.

"Our fans are very important to us," Ossenfort said. "What I can promise and what I'll always promise is we will do what's best for the team. What's best for the team this year and also long-term.

"Everybody has got an opinion. Everybody has favorites. That goes with the territory."

What will be best for the Cardinals? That answer wasn't going to be announced now, which wasn't a surprise. Ossenfort said the team is "95 to 98 percent complete" with the draft prep, with strategy and scenarios the work for the next six days.

The team has 11 draft picks, six in the first 90 and seven in the top 104. While Ossenfort wasn't committing to staying with the No. 4 overall pick, he wasn't committing to trading it either. It would make little sense while doing what's best for the team.

"At some point the phone is always going to ring," Ossenfort said. "We'll see what's on the other end. We'll be ready to have those conversations."

Measuring what players the Cardinals can draft now compared to future years could be a factor. Ossenfort has 11 picks now but in 2025, that number is six (they have already traded away the seventh-rounder). Whether that comes into play in potential trades is still TBD.

"It's all situational based," Ossenfort said. "The easy answer is, yeah, you always want more picks. But we need players. It's more opportunity-based.

"Last year wasn't a case where we said, 'We want to get picks in the future.' It just worked out that way."

Last year's wheeling-and-dealing gives Ossenfort a cornucopia of flexibility this season. Even if the Cardinals stick-and-pick for Harrison – or Malik Nabers or someone else – at 4, they also have the 27th pick of the first round. They have ammunition to trade up from that spot.

Multiple teams have already checked in with the Cardinals, Ossenfort said. It doesn't mean a trade will happen, but the draft itself can change the dynamics.

"The way I look at it is … I love my house. I love where I live," Ossenfort said. "My wife loves where we live. If all of a sudden I'm at my door and someone is going to offer me something, I'm going to look and see what they are offering me.

"If I open that up and it's something (great) I'm not expecting? 'Hey Shannon, pack up, it's time to roll.' That happens beforehand, it happens on the clock, but I think different teams have different motivations and we'll see how that plays out."

Gannon, meanwhile, waits to see what plays out. The coach has his players back in the building and just starting up meetings, although he said they are "chatty" when it comes to asking about their team's draft plans.

"They want to know what we are doing to get the football team better," Gannon said. "It's actually really cool, because they have an investment in wearing the Cardinal on their helmet."

That doesn't mean the front office is necessarily taking suggestions, not after a year of their own prep and countless hours spent scrutinizing every piece of information and talking to potential draftees.

It comes down to three days next week to see who the Cardinals add, and how it all begins for them at No. 4.

"We'll have our popcorn ready for what goes on in front of us," Ossenfort said.

Images of the Arizona Cardinals working out at the Dignity Health Training Facility during the first week of the NFL offseason program

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