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Cardinals Nab Arizona State Running Back Eno Benjamin In Seventh Round

First Sun Devil chosen by team since Pat Tillman in 1998

Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin (3) runs against UCLA during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif.
Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin (3) runs against UCLA during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif.

It was a long wait, but Eno Benjamin won't have to go far to begin his NFL career.

The Arizona State running back was selected by the Cardinals in the seventh round of the draft on Saturday. Benjamin thought he would go as early as the third round on Friday but didn't hear his name called until late.

Despite that disappointment, he was already looking at the bright side of the arrangement.

"I was thinking, OK, today I was going to get drafted pretty early," Benjamin said. "It didn't turn out that way, but I'm just forever grateful that I got the opportunity to get drafted and play the sport that I love -- and it's just that much of an easier transition for me to move right down the road from where I played in college."

Benjamin is the first Arizona State player to be drafted by the Cardinals since Pat Tillman in 1998 -- and they ended up being taken in the same round.

"It kind of shook me to my core hearing that, just knowing who he is and what he's done," Benjamin said.

Benjamin joins a position group that features Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds and fellow Sun Devil D.J. Foster, and he should be immediately comfortable in the Cardinals backfield.

Benjamin talked to Drake minutes after being selected and worked out with Edmonds earlier this offseason. He is also friends with quarterback Kyler Murray as they are close in age and both grew up in the Dallas area.

"I think I fit right in," Benjamin said.

Benjamin's statistics fell from 2018 to 2019, as he went from 5.5 yards per carry as a sophomore to 4.3 as a junior. At 5-foot-9 and 207 pounds, his size may have contributed to the draft slide, but the Cardinals felt lucky to select him with their final choice.

"A guy that we thought would go much higher, so the value in the seventh round, and a player that can do a number of things for you -- we're really excited about him," General Manager Steve Keim said.

It was the third year in a row the Cardinals took a player with Arizona ties. In 2018, it was wide receiver Christian Kirk, who played at Saguaro High School. Last year, it was cornerback Byron Murphy, who also played at Saguaro.

Benjamin joins Foster, kicker Zane Gonzalez and offensive lineman Sam Jones as Arizona State players on the Cardinals. Quarterback Brett Hundley and outside linebacker Devon Kennard are also from Arizona.

"Arizona is my home, and I can't tell you how proud it makes me to take Arizona State players and Arizona local kids (like) Byron Murphy," Keim said. "It just feels special to me."

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