Three positions on the Arizona Cardinals are set in stone for 2015, barring injury. Jared Veldheer will man left tackle again. Bobby Massie will handle right tackle duties again and newly signed Mike Iupati will slide into the left guard position.
Center and right guard? That is another story.
With the release of center Lyle Sendlein, the starting center position is open. Right guard will begin with Ted Larsen, last year's starter at left guard, and will hopefully be taken over by 2013 seventh overall pick Jonathan Cooper.
Without figuring in the 2015 NFL Draft, we have the following players who could start at the two positions in 2015:
Center: A.Q. Shipley, Ted Larsen, Anthony Steen
Right guard: Ted Larsen, A.Q. Shipley, Jonathan Cooper, Anthony Steen, Earl Watford
If we are being hopeful, Cooper needs to win the right guard spot. However, it shouldn't be a given. He was supposed to be a rock at left guard and now the team has gone out and signed a left guard for big money. He will likely not begin the offseason as the starter either, as Larsen will slide over to right guard, provided he doesn't start out as the number one center.
Cooper is now just one of the guys at right guard. He is the guy who needs to win the job, but he will have to win it. If he doesn't, we can officially look at Steve Keim's first draft pick as a bust.
Two guys' development is intriguing. Earl Watford will enter Year 3 of his career. Will he even be able to win a roster spot?
The other guy is Anthony Steen, an undrafted rookie last year. The team is really high on him, but where he fits in exactly is a question. Will he play well enough to allow the team to let a guy like Larsen go, assuming Shipley and Cooper win the starting jobs, taking over the swing guard/center backup? Could Steen win the starting center spot? Or will he land elsewhere?
Not everyone will make the roster. The team will probably keep eight linemen. Bradley Sowell seems to be a lock for the backup swing tackle. That means, Veldheer, Iupati, Massie and Sowell are set. There are four spots remaining for those five guys, in addition to any lineman the Cards might still sign or draft.
Yes, Cooper should win the job. Hopefully he doesn't get hurt again. He already has had a broken leg, turf toe and a broken wrist.
Who do you think will be the starters come Week 1?