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Cardinals Fill Out Draft Class With Final Four Picks

OLB Xavier Thomas, T Christian Jones, WR Tejhaun Palmer,  CB Jaden Davis join roster

The Cardinals drafted outside linebacker Xavier Thomas in the fifth round on Saturday.
The Cardinals drafted outside linebacker Xavier Thomas in the fifth round on Saturday.

If somebody asked Xavier Thomas back in his sophomore season of 2019, he would've told you that he was going go pro after his junior season.

Instead, it wasn't until four years later when he received the call from Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort that was was selected with the 138th overall pick in the fifth round.

"Nothing but tears, man," the Clemson outside linebacker said Saturday after being chosen. "All the things I've overcome, it's just a dream come true to have the opportunity to play at the next level."

Thomas was diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020. He suffered from depression, which led him to weighing more than 300 pounds.

But 2020 was also the season he viewed as a "reset year."

"It was a very important year for me because it was a very tough year," Thomas said. "I really had a reset in regard to who I was as a person, not even just as a football player, but who I was, and I really did develop those different habits of what I needed to do for myself.

He said the process taught him how to eat and take care of his body like a professional, which led to an NFL opportunity. Last season, he finished with 28 tackles, four tackles for loss, and three sacks.

"Just a relentless dog effort," Thomas said. "This is who I am as a competitor. I love to compete. I want to be the best player on the field at all times and just be a relentless guy on the field."

En route to the Valley from Death Valley, he'll be coached by Rob Rodriguez. The Cardinals outside linebacker coach is typically on the field pregame, showing some love with the players in the room.

In his visit with the Cardinals, Thomas could sense the authenticity from Rodriguez."He was real," Thomas said. "It was real genuine in regards to how he will coach me and that's the kind of coach I would need. That's the kind of coach I would love."

FILE - Texas' Christian Jones (70) blocks against Louisiana-Lafayette during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Thanks to a bold new era of name, image and likeness deals across college sports, plenty of star players are cruising around campus in a fancy ride. But for every NIL millionaire there are thousands more athletes like Jones that might have made hundreds or thousands of dollars but who have hardly struck it rich. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)


From the defensive front seven to the offensive line, Ossenfort continues to reinforce the trenches. Offensive tackle Christian Jones was the Cardinals second fifth-round selection.

The two-time Honorable Mention All-Big 12 was the Texas Longhorns' starting right tackle for each game for the last two seasons. He also started 12 games at left tackle in 2021. Jones could serve as a swing tackle for the Cardinals offensive line, learning behind Jonah Williams and Paris Johnson Jr.

"I love Arizona and I love what they got going on right now," Jones said. "They have a rich history and got some really good tackles right now I could definitely learn from and bounce ideas off of."

Texas ran a run-first offense and his presence was a big reason why Jonathon Brooks ran for over 1,139 yards last season. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones allowed a quarterback pressure rate of 2.6-percent since 2021, fourth-best among collegiate tackles.

While Jones was a starter every Saturday for the Longhorns, it wasn't until he got to Austin that he played the tackle position. In high school, he was mostly a defensive end.

The soon-to-be 24-year-old's raw talent that was on display at the Senior Bowl caught Ossenfort's attention.

"He was asked to do different things," Ossenfort said. "Footwork at the Mobile game compared to what he's been doing his whole career. Just seeing him translate and hold up against the best players in the country, that was a good look for us to evaluate his skillset."

UAB wide receiver Tejhaun Palmer (19) carries the ball against Alabama A&M during an NCAA football game Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)


Marvin Harrison Jr. is no longer the sole wide receiver to be drafted by the Cardinals in the 2024 draft. Tejhaun Palmer out of UAB was selected with the 191st pick in the sixth-round.

Palmer played three seasons in Birmingham after a two-year stop at a junior college, Snow (Utah) College. In his three seasons, he averaged 17 yards a catch, with 83 receptions for 1,409 yards. He wasn't invited to the Combine but participated in his Pro Day. The 6-foot-1 wide receiver ran a 4.45 40-yard dash.

"The guy has got upside," assistant general manager Dave Sears said. "We feel like we can develop his routes. He's a tough kid that loves ball."

According to analyst Lance Zierlein, Palmer is a proven wide out with the ability to make contested catches and also made an appearance on Bruce Feldman's "Freaks List" to begin the 2023 season. Palmer attributed his yards after catch ability and explosiveness to his freakish nature on the gridiron.

"When I catch the ball, all I see is the end zone. So I use my speed and strength to get me to the end zone."

Miami's Jaden Davis during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Doug Murray)


A historic draft for the Cardinals came to a close with the addition of cornerback Jaden Davis. He was announced as the 226th overall pick by two Tillman Scholars, twenty-six years after Cardinals legend Pat Tillman was selected with the same pick.

In eight games at Miami in 2023, Davis had 28 tackles with four pass breakups. At 5-foot-9, he's an undersized corner, but said his competitiveness and South Florida mindset adds to his physicality.

Davis spent his fifth season in Coral Gables after four years at Oklahoma. The decision to transfer was strategic and intentional. In Norman, he mostly played on the outside. Transferring to Miami allowed scouts to see his versatility.

"By going to Miami, I played a full game at safety, and I played most of the season at corner and played a lot of reps on the inside," Davis said. "That's what different teams were telling me that I could do, especially the Cardinals."