There are now 19 days until the Arizona Cardinals meet up to open Training Camp. 19 more days of sitting at home with little to no Football news. The last roster movement the Cardinals made was more than a month ago. The last thing we had from the Cardinals came out 10 days ago and most (if not all) of us, watched all eight episodes of "All or Nothing" in a 24 hour period.
That's why it's time to change it up. Today we will examine the Cardinals Offensive Roster, and project who makes what, and project the starters for each spot.
This can go one of two ways.
A) Carson Palmer starts, with Drew Stanton AND Matt Barkley backing him up.
B) Palmer starts, with Drew Stanton backing him up.
I'm one of those people who will go with example A. We all witnessed the 2014 season in which we lost both Palmer and Stanton, and brought in a guy from the streets to be their replacement. (Albeit Logan Thomas was on the roster).
Barkley is a guy I hope succeeds in the NFL, and this Training Camp, and this Preseason will all be about this: Can he be a legitimate option down the road? That's why I thoroughly believe, and hope, that he remains on the roster through 2016.
(Roster Spots: 3)
The top three spots in this room are set in stone. David Johnson, Chris Johnson, and Andre Ellington are essentially guarantees to make the 'Final' 53. David was an electric rookie in 2015, Chris was one of the leading rushers in the NFL until his untimely injury, and Ellington showed that spark he can provide when healthy.
Training Camp will be huge for Ellington. It's a chance for him to show the team he can be a viable option, and remain healthy enough to be the another weapon for Palmer. Or will he be a liability to the Cardinals 2016 chances?
If he remains healthy, it's likely the Cardinals will only keep one more back on the roster. Will it be Special Teams provider Stepfan Taylor? Or will it be Kerwynn Williams? Or maybe rookie Elijhaa Penny? As of right now, the probable option is Taylor, simply because we all know what he can provide.
Williams is still a Practice Squad eligible player, and Penny is obviously as well.
(Roster Spots: 7)
Last season was the first time since 2009 where the Cardinals posted two 1000 yard receivers. Had Michael Floyd stayed healthy all season, the Cardinals could have had a near statistical repeat of their 2008 season, which saw three 1000 yard receivers.
That is a very legitimate possibility in 2016. John Brown was the burner the Cardinals needed in 2015, Fitzgerald had a huge bounce back season, and Michael Floyd was unstoppable for a good portion of the schedule. If all three of these receivers do what they're capable of, the other guys won't have much of a chance to do much of anything in 2016.
Outside those top three, you would assume that JJ Nelson is a lock for the #4 spot. After that there are a few guys who could slip in. Jaron Brown is probably the front runner, a guy who made clutch catches in 2015. Brittan Golden is another name in the hat. He's been a special teams provider for the Cardinals, but not much else. Do the Cardinals carry six wideouts in 2016? If so, those two are likely to make the roster, but there's another player who could beat out one or the other.
Shipley had 12 catches in the 2015 preseason, recording 98 yards, and averaged 8.2 yards per catch. He could fill the roll that Golden holds, as a special teams player who fills in occasionally on offense, but not much else. As of right now... I believe it's Golden's job to lose, but Shipley could steal it depending on if he is able to develop the return skills he showed in 2015.
(Roster Spots: 13)
And now we get to the position that I am most excited, at least thus far, to breakdown. Currently there are six tight ends on the roster, five have a chance to make the team, but only four will make the cut. Darren Fells, Jermaine Gresham, and Ifyeani Momah will make it. That leave 2015's Mr. Irrelevant, Gerald Christian, and 2014 second round pick Troy Niklas. Niklas has seven catches, 71 yards, and two touchdowns in two seasons. Gerald Christian has even less in his two years zero everything, but that was in part to a knee injury that ended his rookie season.
So at this point who do you take? Do you take the unknown in Christian, even with his athletic talents? Or Niklas who has not remained healthy in his two seasons? Personally I see Christian winning it, primarily because he can be used as a H-Back, shift him into the backfield and use him to power David Johnson threw a tight window.
(Roster Spots: 17)
Two players are as close as you can get to a guarantee in the NFL. Mike Iupati and Evan Mathis will be the starters in 2016. Iupati will man the left side once again and Mathis will take command of the right side. Earl Watford was a solid player in 2015, filling in for the suspended Bobby Massie, and will make the roster once again. Have to believe that this years fifth round selection Cole Toner will be on the roster as well. That's four players. Do the Cardinals feel comfortable carrying just four? Or does Antoine McClain make the roster as well, a player who the Cardinals really like?
I stand behind carrying five players. Simply because Mathis is an older player and you never know how his body will hold up through 16 games, and as emergency depth. Watford is great depth, but the two younger guys have no experience in the NFL, so carrying an extra body here is the safe route.
(Roster Spots: 22)
There are two guys battling for the job now. AQ Shipley and fourth round pick Evan Boehm. Whoever loses will stay on the roster, to keep the depth and with Watford having done some work there this past offseason, we will be able to carry the two guys, with another option on the line.
(Roster Spots: 24)
Jared Veldheer is a guarantee to hold down the left tackle job. DJ Humphries is the likely winner of the right tackle job. After that there is no depth. Rob Crisp is the only player who has been with the Cardinals for an extended period of time. John Wetzel joined the team in December. Then you have two undrafted rookies. It's likely the Cardinals add another player towards the start of the season. Jake Long is a player many have talked about, and a lot of people are very adamant about.
It's also likely the Cardinals only carry DJ, Veldheer, and Rob Crisp, with Earl Watford being an option to come in if an injury occurs.
(Roster Spots: 27)
The offense takes up 27 roster spots, of the 53 total spots. Who on this list does not make the cut? Are there too many offensive players? Let us know in the comments.