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Cardinals Hold Impressive Third-Round Pick Parade

RB Trey Benson, OL Isaiah Adams, TE Tip Reiman, CB Elijah Jones added to roster

The Cardinals used their first third-round pick on running back Trey Benson of Florida State.
The Cardinals used their first third-round pick on running back Trey Benson of Florida State.

When a team only has one pick in a round, general manager Monti Ossenfort pointed out that the draft is notorious for "let's go snack."

In the third round of Friday's draft, Ossenfort and Co. were too busy for a snack, but the treats came by way of four new players.

Trey Benson, a Florida State running back, kicked off the party after being the 66th overall pick in the draft. He's a physical runner that rushed for more than 900 yards and 14 touchdowns in his final season. One of the top backs in the draft, Benson didn't have a visit with the Cardinals in Tempe, but he met with them over Zoom and at the Scouting combine.

But he's not surprised he landed in the Valley.

"Every time I spoke with the Cardinals, there was always great vibes," Benson said.

When he was in Tallahassee last season, Benson wasn't a workhorse running back, only averaging 13.5 touches per game, but he was impactful when he did get the ball. Even though the Cardinals have James Conner, the "blueprint" that rushed for over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career last season, coach Jonathan Gannon said the addition of Benson is one he loves.

"He's a big man that runs really fast," Gannon said. "When I look at it, could you break tackles? Yeah. Can you make people miss in space? Yeah. Can you hit home runs? Yes."

So while Benson checks the boxes on the field, he also matches it off the field. Gannon and Ossenfort have mentioned the importance of getting not just good players, but good people. When asked who the Cardinals are getting in the Mississippi native, Benson fit the mold the front office looks for.

"I'm a humble guy, great guy, goofy guy," Benson said. "Just a guy who is going to come to work every single day and just always bringing that positive vibe."

Along with Conner, Benson now becomes teammates with Emari Demercado, DeeJay Dallas, and "one of the best human beings I've ever met in my life" in Michael Carter.

The two met a few months ago at a 7-on-7 tournament in Tampa.

"We just clicked instantly," Benson said. "As soon as I got picked, (Carter) just called me."


National offensive lineman Isaiah Adams of Illinois (78) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/ Butch Dill)


With Carter O'Donnell and Jesse Luketa, the Cardinals have some Canadian ties. With the No. 71 pick in the draft, they added another Canadian in Isaiah Adams. The offensive lineman has had a remarkable journey to the Valley.

He began in Canada, then went to community college for two years before playing his last two years of collegiate ball at Illinois. In his first season in Champaign in 2022, Adams started 12 games at left guard and last season, was forced to switch over to right tackle.

A trip to the Senior Bowl where he worked with Cardinals assistant offensive line coach Chris Cook helped the his new team get insight on the 23-year-old.

"He got to see me work for a full week and got to know the player I am," Adams said. "He got to know how much this game means to me.

"I love their system and I love what they do," Adams said.

Illinois tight end Tip Reiman, left, dives for a touchdown as Wisconsin cornerback Alexander Smith, right, defends during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


Something must've been in the water in Champaign because Ossenfort decided to go back-to-back with Fighting Illini players. After moving back to pick No. 82 from 79, a pick they acquired in the second-round trade with the Falcons, the Cardinals selected tight end Tip Reiman.

Reiman's stock rose throughout the draft process by testing well at the Combine and by participating in the East-West Shrine Bowl, where he was coached by Cardinals passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Drew Terrell. He earned his reputation by becoming one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the draft.

It also helps that he's 6-foot-4 and 271-pounds with the urge to bully someone on the gridiron.

"(I like) mauling somebody," Reiman said. "I like putting my hands on somebody and doing what I want. Move them exactly where I want against their will. It's fun. I feel like it's a gift the Lord gave me and I am honoring Him in doing that."

With Geoff Swaim departing from the Cardinals in free agency, Reiman could slide into that role alongside Trey McBride. At Illinois, Reiman wasn't the primary pass-catcher on offense, only hauling in 19 receptions for 203 yards in 2023, but Ossenfort believes he can make an impact in both the run and pass game.

Boston College cornerback Elijah Jones, right, intercepts a pass intended for Syracuse wide receiver Donovan Brown during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Syracuse, N.Y., Friday, Nov. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)


The Cardinals night concluded the same way it started, by drafting a cornerback. The card was turned in for Elijah Jones, a 6-foot-1 defensive back that has no problems going after the football.

Despite missing four games in 2023 due to a situation he chose not to discuss -- but the Cardinals were made aware of -- Jones led the conference in interceptions with five. He also led his school, Boston College, in passes defended in back-to-back seasons (15 in 2022 and 13 in 2023).

He was in college for six years and was a four-year starter. That maturity was on display when the Cardinals met Jones at the combine in February. In the meeting, defensive coordinator Nick Rallis, Gannon, and Ossenfort planned to review some tape with the corner, but before the footage was played, Jones knew the exact sequence.

"I looked at Monti and I was like, 'Cool,'" Gannon said impressed at Jones' recall of the play. "The ball means a lot to him and that's what we're attracted to."

Some viewed Jones as a sleeper coming into the draft process, but in his eyes, he's just where he belongs.

"Everybody has their own path," Jones said. "I think everybody has their own process. I know I feel like everybody's story is and I'm happy my story played out the way it was and end as a Cardinal."