On the surface, Caleb Williams and the Arizona Cardinals seem like an ideal match for both the fans and the organization itself. The USC quarterback is the No. 1 overall prospect eligible to enter the 2024 NFL Draft. The question is, will he actually declare?
Projected No. 1 overall picks typically have entered the NFL Draft regardless of the team that selects first. However, there are some exceptions. John Elway refused to sign a contract with the Baltimore Colts, who traded him to the Denver Broncos. Eli Manning is another example. He didn’t feel confident winding up with the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers had the No. 1 overall selection and ultimately traded him to the New York Giants. Both Elway and Manning won two Super Bowl rings in their respective careers.
Plenty of examples of No. 1 overall picks also don’t pan out. However, the Cardinals organization must put themselves in a position to be an attractive landing spot should they obtain the top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
The significance increases even more so following the comment of Caleb Williams’ father, who recently stated that, depending on the team making the selection, Williams could elect to return for another year at USC.
Here are ways that the Cardinals can make themselves a more intriguing landing spot for Caleb Williams, or any top prospect, should they obtain a high draft pick, as many expect.
How Cardinals Can Boost Appeal for Caleb Williams
Offensive Weapons Stepping Up
The Cardinals are hurting on offense. The only proven skill position players they currently roster are Marquise Brown, James Conner, and Zach Ertz. As it stands, the Cardinals need more for Caleb Williams to be encouraged about Arizona’s weapons. They’ll need players such as wide receivers Greg Dortch and Rondale Moore to step up and prove they are startable receivers.
Another piece to the puzzle is tight end Trey McBride, who is only 23 years old and a second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. If these pieces can take the next jump with their increased opportunity this season, Williams may be more inclined to join the Cardinals.
New Team Identity Under Jonathan Gannon
The newly appointed head coach, Jonathan Gannon, will be a significant piece of the puzzle. Gannon was the former defensive coordinator of the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles. If Gannon can make the Cardinals become a more defensive-minded team that establishes the run on offense, they could become a much more intriguing NFL team with the potential to make a playoff run.
Showing Williams what type of system Gannon implements and how he would fit into that scheme will be a huge emphasis this season. The Cardinals need to prove to their quarterback that they can take some of the pressure off them through their ground game, receiving weapons, and defense. That starts with Gannon.
Relatively Competitive Season for Cardinals
Arizona is seemingly tanking the 2023-24 NFL season to obtain the top overall draft pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Their projected poor season is where the Caleb Williams discussion comes from in the first place. Having a competitive season is a catch-22. They would likely have to be the worst NFL team record-wise if Williams is an option for them, as he’s projected to be the first overall pick.
The alternative to this would be if the Houston Texans ended up with the worst regular season record. Arizona also has the rights to their selection following this offseason draft day trade. Nonetheless, the Cardinals must prove to Williams that they have competitive pieces that can help contribute to winning.
Some examples of this include keeping games within reach. The Cardinals need to avoid getting blown out, even if they wind up losing the majority of games. Additionally, they need to have promising up-and-coming pieces take that next jump, as previously mentioned with their offense. As is, the Cardinals aren’t an attractive destination for a No. 1 prospect like Williams.
Arizona needs to showcase some of their under-the-radar talent on their roster and their competitive drive. Then, Williams will feel more comfortable to become an Arizona Cardinal.
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