As we continue through the twice weekly series, we have made our way to one of the deepest positions on the team. Receiving position has been a long time strength in the desert, spanning from the Fitzgerald and Boldin era, to the Fitzgerald only era, and ultimately the Fitzgerald, Floyd, and the Browns.
The team looks poised to continue this run, after the team picked up Floyd's fifth year option, giving him two years to show he's Larry Fitzgerald's successor.
So without further ado, let us begin.
The third year pro out of Clemson has shown substantial development year after year. In 2015 he earned playing time and outside of the memorably painful drop in the Seattle game, he showed promise. He has a tough challenge this year, particularly with the addition of JJ Nelson. Brown has value on special teams, which will help hm in his quest to stay with Arizona, but he has to continues to show that development he has shown the last two years.
The second year pro from Pittsburgh State was a shock in 2014. He recorded 696 yards with 5 scores, before drops began to plaque him in the end. This offseason he's added weight, while reportedly still maintaining his speed. With Palmer at the helm, Brown managed 315 yards and 2 scores. That is an average of 63 yards per game. If Palmer had managed to play all 16 games, Brown would have been in the area of a 1000 yard season with roughly six touchdowns.
A full season, and a full offseason under his belt, Brown could be poised for a bigger sophomore season.
There's not much to say that has not been said about Fitzgerald. He is likely on his way to a hall of fame bid and is already memorialized in Cardinal lore. In 2014 he recorded the worst stat line since his rookie campaign. He finished with 784 yards and only two scores. It has been three seasons since his last 1000 yard campaign. In an April 23rd interview with Burns & Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7, Fitz said the scheme limits the big plays he can make:
"No, it’s not possible," Fitzgerald told Burns & Gambo of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM in Phoenix. "And it’s only that reason, because of the role that I play. It’s a different role. I just don’t have the opportunities down the field. I’m more inside, I move the chains a lot more. So in terms of putting up the big numbers, it will be difficult. But in terms of my effectiveness, of providing first downs, being able to make tough catches for my team, I’m still going to be able to do that."
-Quote Courtesy of ProFootballTalk on NBC Sports.com
After restructuring his contract to a two year, 22 million dollar contract fully guaranteed, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim, and Bruce Arians, have essentially guaranteed that Fitzgerald will remain a Cardinal until he retires.
The Cardinals first round pick in 2012, he has shown moments of excitement of the future, and concern. In 2014, he was as inconsistent and could be. He managed to finish with 841 yards, but that was a step down from his 1054 in 2013. He dropped passes that appeared easy, and caught those that dropped our jaws. The team believes in him, despite the persistent rumors of the team entertaining offers for him. They did pick up his fifth year option, and was recently praised by Arians for his conditioning in OTA's.
Golden was picked up as an UDFA from West Texas in 2013. He had four catches for 136 yards in 2013. He was relegated to the practice squad in 2014, primarily due to John Brown shocking the nation with his speed and clutch plays. Golden has a shot to make the roster in 2015, thanks to a wide open returner job.He will have to compete with a handful of other players, JJ Nelson in particular.
The Grand-Nephew to head coach Bruce Arians knows he won't be scoring any favorite points from his uncle. He's had to put his head down and do his job, just to have a hope to make the roster. The UDFA out of Shippensburg University had 4200 yards in his four year career, to go along with his 61 scores. Harman is a long shot to make the roster, but if he impresses enough, it make sense he would be an option as a Practice Squad player.
Nelson, the last player out of UAB to be drafted, is looking to be known for more than that. After running a blazing 4.28 40 at the Combine, he was drafted by the Cardinals in the fifth round, and will challenge as the teams 2015 return man. He returned one punt for a score will at UAB, and returned five kickoffs to the house. He averaged 11 yards per punt return as a senior and 38 yards per kick return. Not only will he be a threat in the return game, but he's another toy for Palmer to throw to on offense.
Powell is more than likely just a camp body. The receiver out of Iowa recorded 608 yards and five scores. He's another speedster, which shows Arians love for speed, but again, if he were to make the final 53, or even the practice squad, it would come as a shock.
Shipley was a rising star at Texas his first two years. He recorded three touchdowns and 607 yards as a freshman. The next year he recorded six scores and 737 yards. However his final two years only saw him score once each year and his yards drop to 589 and 577. He is best against zone coverage, and his hands are reliable, but his route running and quickness leave a lot to be desired.
Spadola was an undrafted signing by the Jets in 2013, played three games, and was cut. He played one more with Miami, and was re-signed with Miami for the 2014 season. In his collegiate career, Spadola recorded 3595 and 24 scores as a full time starters. Spadola has a history of playing special teams, which will help him make a case for a practice squad spot come September
The Cardinals carried six receivers for part of the season last year. It would make sense that trend continues this year. With Fitzgerald, Floyd, Jaron and John Brown likely locked up as the top four, that leaves the final two open for JJ Nelson and likely Brittan Golden.
Still plenty of time, and likely one or two more signings to go, but we're edging closer to the regular season.