The Arizona Cardinals are less than three hours away from playing in their first preseason game of the year against the Denver Broncos.
First-year general manager Monti Ossenfort invested minimally in free agency with their biggest signing being Kyzir White, who inked a two-year $11 million contract this offseason.
Instead, Ossenfort prioritized the NFL Draft with a number of trades to kickstart the rebuild of this Cardinals franchise.
With a new coaching staff in place led by head coach Jonathan Gannon, they are giving the rookies every opportunity to earn a starting job in their first year in the NFL. New system and new philosophies means ample opportunities to shine.
Here are five rookies to watch as the Cardinals prepare to play in what technically is their first game of the season:
Paris Johnson Jr - Offensive Tackle
Cardinals made two trades during the draft to acquire Paris Johnson Jr, who was widely considered the top offensive lineman in the 2023 draft. This was a monumental addition for Arizona as this team shifts their focus on the protection of their franchise quarterback Kyler Murray. Johnson supplants Kelvin Beachum Jr, who was their starter the last three seasons. Johnson played on the first-team offensive line unit as a right tackle throughout training camp.
Michael Wilson - Wide Receiver
The most popular name in Cardinals’ training camp was Michael Wilson. The third-round pick out of Stanford had an injury-riddled college football career but looked nearly unbeatable throughout practices. Cardinals could see a lot of Wilson and Zach Pascal on the perimeter while Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Greg Dortch, and Rondale Moore man the interior. Wilson was dominant during practices but will need to continue this high level of play against another football team.
Clayton Tune - Quarterback
There seems to be no clear cut leader so far regarding who will be the No. 2 quarterback behind the currently-injured Kyler Murray. Cardinals fans already know first hand what Colt McCoy is capable of having played in Arizona for the last two seasons. Fifth-round pick Clayton Tune is coming off a season where he had 40 touchdown passes with the University of Houston. He has above average athletic ability, has a cannon of an arm, and could make some serious noise to start in the Cardinals’ regular season opener if he impresses in the preseason.
Kei’Trel Clark - Cornerback
Cardinals’ sixth-round pick Kei’Trel Clark was another rookie that has received first-team reps during training camp as Arizona continues to explore their options for a starter opposite Marco Wilson. He had five interceptions and 167 tackles in his four years in college. Clark made a couple plays in practice last week that resulted in turnovers and is currently listed as the top backup to Wilson on the depth chart.
Daniel Arias - Wide Receiver
Daniel Arias is listed as the top backup to Marquise Brown on the depth chart. He is a big-bodied wide receiver (6’3’’ 216 lbs), which means another potential redzone threat for Arizona. Though Arias will likely need to excel on special teams to earn a roster spot, an early impact on offense would increase his chances expeditiously.