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Cardinals Select Marvin Harrison Jr. With First Pick

Team stays at No. 4 to grab high-profile wide receiver

New Cardinals wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. stands with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in Detroit Thursday night at the draft.
New Cardinals wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. stands with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in Detroit Thursday night at the draft.

For months, the pairing of the Cardinals and wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. seemed perfect.

GM Monti Ossenfort made it reality Thursday night.

The Cardinals ended up staying at No. 4 overall and taking the Ohio State star, adding an immediate weapon to the offense led by Kyler Murray and thrilling a fanbase at the same time.

"I think that's the most explosive combination in the country," said Cardinals tackle Paris Johnson Jr. – Harrison's college teammate – at the team's draft party on the Great Lawn at State Farm Stadium. "You have a quarterback that nobody can touch. And now you have a receiver that can't be guarded. As a tackle, how can you not want to block for that?"

Harrison should slide right into the lineup as the team's top wide receiver, although shortly after Commissioner Roger Goodell called his name in Detroit and Harrison got his congratulatory hug, the newest Cardinal wasn't going that far with his plans.

"No sir," Harrison said. "I'm just trying to learn the playbook, get my connections down with Kyler, and whatever happens from there happens."

Three quarterbacks went in the top three picks of the draft as expected, leaving every other position to the Cards. They took Harrison over LSU's Malik Nabers and Washington's Rome Odunze, the other two wideouts considered the top of this year's class.

Nabers went sixth to the Giants, Odunze ninth to the Bears.

There were no serious trade talks, Ossenfort said. The team most likely to move up – the Vikings – did, but only from 11 to 10 and still were able to take J.J. McCarthy. The Broncos took Bo Nix 12th overall, and the Falcons shocked everyone by taking Michael Penix Jr. at 8.

"We were busy on the phone most of the day, teams coming to us," Ossenfort said. "It wasn't a situation where we were looking to move the pick. We were just doing due diligence. "

No defensive players were taken in the first 14 picks of the draft, pushing more choices down toward the Cardinals' second first-round pick at 27.

Not that any of them tempted the Cardinals at 4. The vibe had long been that Harrison, the son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison Sr., was the target. That became clear from the time he visited the Cardinals for a day-long visit to Tempe this spring, following their brief official meeting at the Scouting combine in February.

"When that day concluded, I felt pretty convicted about who Marvin was," Ossenfort said. "I was already convicted about who Marvin was as a player. After that day, I was convicted of who he was as a person. To me, that was a big day for me, as we went through the process of figuring out who we were going to pick at No. 4."

Harrison didn't work out at the Combine or at his pro day, instead sticking to a regiment to prepare him to roll right into his NFL team's workouts as soon as he was drafted. That too resonated with Ossenfort: "Marvin has a plan."

"The person he is, the player he is, the mindset, I'm excited to get him in here," coach Jonathan Gannon said. "He's going to get open, catch the ball, and score points."

Harrison should move immediately into the lineup, joining Michael Wilson and Greg Dortch along with tight end Trey McBride. The son of Colts Hall of Fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison Sr., Harrison Jr. had 67 receptions in 12 games for the Buckeyes, totaling 1,211 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.

He had 77 catches for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns in 13 games as a sophomore.

"First of all, we want to get him in here and let him carve out a role," Ossenfort said.

Harrison said Murray "is the kind of guy I want to play with" and had noted the day before to reporters in Detroit that he was a complete receiver, able to play the 'X', 'Z' and the slot if needed. That's what Ossenfort wants to see early as the Cardinals figure out exactly how they might want to deploy him.

But the pairing did seem inevitable in some ways, dating all the way back to when Johnson and Harrison were talking before the 2023 draft, and Johnson was hoping to be a Cardinal and the two had discussions of eventually becoming teammates in Arizona.

"I cannot be more excited to be an Arizona Cardinal, really," Harrison said. "I am super excited to get to work, and that's where my mind is at right now."