There's been a ton of talk over the past several months about what the Arizona Cardinals should do during the opening round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Monti Ossenfort, the club's general manager, will have not one but two first-round picks to work with three months from now. There are plenty of holes to fill, but an injury suffered last Sunday by a longtime member of the Cards organization has created yet another potential problem area for Ossenfort and his cohorts.
Somewhat overshadowed by Arizona's thrilling 35-31 triumph over the Philadelphia Eagles was the torn ACL that ended the season for starting left tackle D.J. Humphries. The 30-year-old has two years remaining on his current contract, but the setback with his knee raises doubts about whether the veteran will continue his career in the desert. Could Ossenfort elect to move on from Humphries, and draft a highly-touted college prospect to replace him?
At the moment, an ugly 4-12 record has set the Cardinals up with the draft's fourth-overall selection. The franchise is also in possession of the 17th-overall choice, thanks to the trade that Ossenfort pulled off last spring with the Houston Texans. Many experts believed that the additional pick would be much more valuable, but the Texans have somehow managed to go 9-7 in Demeco Ryans' first season as the head coach.
Nevertheless, the Cards should certainly be able to acquire a quality offensive tackle somewhere in the first round. Nine months ago, Ossenfort struck gold when he landed Ohio State University standout Paris Johnson Jr. at number-six overall. The 22-year-old has lived up to his lofty draft status, starting all 16 matchups this season at the right tackle spot.
The Arizona Cardinals will have several attractive offensive tackle prospects to pick from in 2024
The top option on many draft boards is Olumuyiwa Fashanu, a flat-out stud out of Penn State University. At a massive 6 foot 6, 317 pounds, the consensus All-American definitely looks the part. Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray would have very little to worry about with the ultra-talented Fashanu protecting his blindside.
While Fashanu is highly regarded, there are a large contingent of draftniks who have University of Notre Dame bookend Joe Alt ranked even higher. The 6 foot 8, 322 pound youngster was awarded unanimous All-American honors in 2023, and was also voted First-team All-American in 2022. The pairing of Alt and Johnson would give the Cardinals offensive line a phenomenal pair of bookends to do battle with in '24 in beyond.
At selection number 17-overall, Ossenfort may have a shot at walking away with University of Alabama junior JC Latham. The mammoth 6 foot 6, 360 pounder was a First-team All-SEC performer for the Crimson Tide this past fall. Another possibility at the slot Arizona obtained from Houston is Amarius Mims, a 6 foot 7, 340 pounder out of the University of Georgia.
If the '24 campaign got underway at this very moment, Johnson and 12th-year pro Kelvin Beachum would be the Redbirds' starting tackles. One issue with that particular scenario is that the ever-reliable Beachum will turn 35 years of age in June. The more sensible solution would be for the Cards to proceed with a much younger blocker when the draft rolls around in April.