ESPN lists surprising name as potential Cardinals "X-factor" in 2024

And it's not MHJ. (Sorry.)
2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3
2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3 / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Could I interest you in a very contrarian Cardinals opinion this early on a Monday? Just a little bit of a wild take to get your week off started. Think of it like your second cup of coffee.

The Take comes from ESPN, of course, and has to do with the Cardinals' rookie class. In their latest draft roundup, the worldwide leader talked a little bit about the most intriguing player drafted to each team this year, and the Cardinals one was a bit of a curve ball.

ESPN lists surprising name as potential Cardinals "X-factor" in 2024

Surprisingly enough, Marvin Harrison Jr. wasn't the guy that ESPN – and an unnamed "NFL personnel evaluator" – thought would be the team's "X-factor" in 2024. (That'd be too obvious, duh.) Instead, they went with someone that the Cardinals got almost 40 picks later – Rutgers cornerback Max Melton. Here's their rationale:

"The Cardinals are trying to establish a culture in Year 2 of the Monti Ossenfort-Jonathan Gannon regime, and Rutgers corner Max Melton fits the mold.

The Cardinals valued Melton's team-first approach, the intangibles that don't show up on a standard draft profile. He stayed at Rutgers despite NIL opportunities elsewhere, betting big on Greg Schiano's ability to shepherd defensive backs in the NFL (such as Devin and Jason McCourty and Logan Ryan). And Melton doesn't view special teams as a chore, but something he loves. He blocked four punts for the Scarlet Knights.

"He'll be an X factor for them," an NFL personnel evaluator said.

On one hand, it's a little bit hipster for my taste. Melton may be terrific – he'll certainly be a welcomed addition in a cornerback room that's ranked as one of the league's worst – but it feels like a bit of a stretch to suggest that anyone besides the generationally-talented wide receiver they took 4th overall will be the 'X-Factor' this season. On the other, it's nice to see other members of Arizona's draft class get some love.

But now you have a fun, outside-the-box name to give people when talking about who your personal X-Factor will be next season. So thank you, ESPN. Thank you, unnamed NFL personnel evaluator. You are truly the gift that keeps on giving.