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Cardinals Begin Draftee Signings With Four Contracts

Thomas, Jones, Palmer, Davis all ink first NFL deals

Fifth-round pick Xavier Thomas signs his first NFL contract on Thursday.
Fifth-round pick Xavier Thomas signs his first NFL contract on Thursday.

They were the final four players drafted by the Cardinals but became the first four draftees to put pen to paper.

Linebacker Xavier Thomas, offensive tackle Christian Jones, wide receiver Tejhaun Palmer, and cornerback Jaden Davis made it official on Thursday, signing their initial four-year contracts with the Cardinals. Thomas and Jones were both fifth-round picks, Palmer in the following round, and Davis rounded out the Cardinals draft at pick No. 226 in the seventh round. Twenty-six years prior, the Cardinals used pick No. 226 to draft Pat Tillman.

That leaves eight unsigned draftees of the Cardinals' massive 12-man class.

Entering college, Thomas was the No. 3 prospect in the 2018 class, only behind quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields and was a few spots above Micah Parsons. He finished his freshman year at Clemson as an All-American. Even with the struggles of depression and the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas persevered, becoming the Cardinals 138th overall selection.

Last season, he finished with 25 tackles, four tackles for loss, and three sacks. He'll be coached by outside linebacker coach Rob Rodriguez. Thomas said they had a good meeting on his pre-draft visit.

"That's the kind of coach I would need, that's the kind of coach I love," Thomas said after he was selected. "A coach who's always pushing me to my limit, never lets me get complacent and that's just the vibe that I get from him in how he would coach me.

The second offensive lineman the Cardinals drafted was Jones out of Texas. Guard Isaiah Adams was the first lineman, drafted in the third round. Jones is a 6-foot-5 swing tackle with starting experience on both sides of the line. He likely won't be a Week 1 starter, but he'll be able to learn from Paris Johnson Jr., Jonah Williams, and veteran Kelvin Beachum.

"I'm ready to open up a new book and this is just the first page in the book," Jones said. "I want to hit the ground running and just know the Arizona Cardinals are getting a hard worker. Someone who's going to show up early, stay late, and give it his all every single day for himself and the betterment of the organization."

Palmer, a 6-foot-1 target out of UAB was the second wide receiver GM Monti Ossenfort drafted after Marvin Harrison Jr. Ossenfort said an impressionable appearance at the East-West Shrine Bowl put Palmer on the Cardinals radar.

He'll join a room that has had a complete makeover from last season. What once was a unit comprised of Hollywood Brown and Rondale Moore is now headlined by Harrison Jr., Michael Wilson, Greg Dortch and veteran Chris Moore. Palmer could potentially separate himself from the pack by using his size to leap up and make contested catches.

"When I catch the ball all I see is the end zone," Palmer said. "I'm a playmaker, I can play inside and outside, I'm competitive and I'm a team player."

He'll reunite with his college teammate, cornerback Starling Thomas V.

Davis will now share a room with Thomas V and the other defensive backs. The University of Miami cornerback spent his final collegiate season showcasing his versatility, playing on the outside, inside, and as a safety for a game.

Last season, the 5-foot-10 cornerback had 42 tackles, four pass deflections, and two forced fumbles.

In his pre-draft conversations with the Cardinals, Davis recognized how much the organization valued versatility.

"I can be your starting nickel, your second-string corner and second-string safety," Davis said. "I can do all those things despite my size or anything. I'm more than athletic enough, more than strong enough and more than able enough to do whatever is asked of me."