In previous years, NFL rosters opened training camp with 90-man rosters. These got cut down to 75 prior to preseason week 4, and then the 53-man rosters were solidified following the close of preseason. This year though, marks the first year of the elimination of the 75-man cut-down. On the positive side, 22 players per team get one more game to state their cases for a roster spot. On the negative side, GMs and front office personnel now have to deal with a massive 37 man cut day. 1,184 players throughout the league will be cut, and only about a quarter of them will be lucky enough to be signed to practice squads. So, who on the Arizona Cardinals is best positioned to survive the purge?
1) Carson Palmer. He’s the team’s starting quarterback and an absolute lock.
2) Drew Stanton. Stanton gets the nod over Gabbert. Two reasons- He should be much more familiar with BA’s offense, and he has 2.5 mil in dead money if cut.
Could Gabbert still stay? Absolutely. But as of right now, I see just two QB’s making the 53 just as last year.
3) David Johnson. One of the best backs in the league already, he’s locked in.
4) TJ Logan. The 5th round rookie out of UNC, the speedy back (4.37 forty) looks to be a contributor, likely starting on the special team unit.
5) Chris Johnson. The veteran signed last week to a deal and I see him making the roster as both a mentor for the young running back room and as DJ’s primary backup.
6) Kerwynn Williams. The Cardinals kept four backs after last year’s cuts, and I think until Logan earns his keep, the rook will be primarily on special teams. It’s the BA way. KW had a fun wildcat package last year and is a more downhill runner than CJ or Logan and should earn his place.
7) Larry Fitzgerald. Duh. The ageless wonder has tightened his cleats for possibly one last run at a ring.
8) John “Smoke” Brown. If he’s healthy, he’s a dynamic receiver. Let’s just hope he can.
9) JJ Nelson. He’s more than a speed guy, as he showed a more technical side as the season wore on.
10) Chad Williams. The rookie from Grambling St is a sure lock after BASK prioritized him as a third round selection.
11) Jaron Brown. He has always looked strong and I’d love for him to get a more extended look.
12) Brittan Golden. The Cards carry 6 WRs this season and Golden’s ST play give him the edge over Hubert, Ellington, Dobson, etc.
13) Jermaine Gresham. He’s TE1 and his 3.7 cap hit is fully guaranteed. He’s a lock.
14) Ifeanyi Momah. With Fells in Detroit, Momah has the athleticism to beat out Niklas for the TE2 spot. Plus, he’ll come at half the price.
15) Ricky Seals-Jones. The WR convert in undersized, but if he can put out good tape, he can absolutely beat out the trio of Valles, Niklas, and Christian for the TE3 spot.
16) Gerald Christian. Four TEs, and not one is Niklas. Christian was recently re-added to the room and that speaks to his chances in my book.
17) DJ Humphries. The starting left tackle.
18) Mike Iupati. The starting left guard.
19) AQ Shipley. The starting center.
20) Evan Boehm. The former center for Missouri, he’s slated as the starting right guard.
21) Jared Veldheer. The former LT is now a bulldozing right tackle.
22) Cole Toner. Taking the snaps with the first team at C, Cole Toner should be a lock to make the roster as a primary reserve at the interior line.
23) Dorian Johnson. The rookie guard slid to the 5th round due to health concerns, but he’s a first-round talent who makes the roster relatively easy.
24) John Wetzel. The reserve tackle made the 53-last season and played well after injuries to the starters forced him in. Able to play both guard and tackle, he’s a swiss army knife on a team that values versatility.
25) Will Holden. The rookie sneaks onto the roster as the 9th OL. He’s likely inactive.
26) Robert Nkemdiche. He may not be on the first team as of now, but the defensive line will likely be a rotating door and he’s arguably the most talented guy we have.
27) Josh Mauro. Versatility. The 4-year pro out of Stanford can play along the line and brings a blue-collar attitude. He’s gone from UDFA to a potential starter.
28) Frostee Rucker. The vet is entering his 12th season and is a projected starter once again.
29) Rodney Gunter. Gunter had a fabulous rookie season before falling back to Earth a bit last season, but he’s still a lock to make the 53.
30) Corey Peters. Another vet makes the roster relatively easily. Peters is locked into a rotating starting role.
31) Olsen Pierre. Interestingly, there’s not a whole lot of competition brought in depth-wise for the Cardinals defensive line.
32) Xavier Williams. Like stated above, the Cardinals only have 9 DT/DEs on the 90-man roster, and I think that narrows to seven, leaving Ed Stinson and Pasoni Tasini as the odd men out.
33) Chandler Jones-. Obviously. Just signed to a big deal, Jones is staying in the desert.
34) Markus Golden. The team leader in sacks last season, the hope is that Golden still hasn’t peaked.
35) Deone Bucannon. The $LB may start the season on the PUP, for now, I’ll include him in the 53.
36) Haason Reddick. The first-round pick has me hyped.
37) Karlos Dansby. “Los” is back for a third go in the desert.
38) Jarvis Jones. Currently on the NFI list, Jones doesn’t have a whole lot of competition at OLB.
39) Kareem Martin. Again, I want 4 OLBs and Kareem is the safe bet for now, though this spot is wide open. Bazzie, Capi, Wheeler all are possible.
40) Scooby Wright. Wright isn’t the biggest. He’s not the fastest. But with Buc sidelined and Reddick/Dansby unlikely to play a ton, Scooby has an opportunity to showcase the football IQ and instincts that made him a fan favorite at U of A. Same goes for Martin, Gooden, and Fua.
41) Gabe Martin. He’s a good depth guy.
42- Patrick Peterson. One of the best corners in the league, he’s not getting a whole lot of balls thrown his way.
43- Tyrann Mathieu. Honey Badger is healthy. If he stays healthy, he’s a legitimate contender for DPOTY. But that’s a big if.
44) Budda Baker. The rookie from Washington was one of my favorite guys in the draft and I’m excited to see him join the secondary.
45) Justin Bethel. Bethel is the favorite to slide into the #2 spot opposite PP21. Hopefully the offseason hype is real this time.
46) Brandon Williams. The former running back has another year of corner under his belt. His athleticism is undeniable. But hopefully he’s improved on his technical skills.
47) Antoine Bethea. The former Colt and Niner likely plays a Tony Jefferson “box safety” role.
48) Tyvon Branch. He’s an injury risk, but has the versatility to play nickel and safety and that’s valuable.
49) Harlan Miller. The safety room is crowded, but he’s a former corner and I really enjoyed watching him at the end of the season.
50) Elie Bouka- This may be a biased pick, but I think we carry nine DBs and Bouka has the size BASK covets.
51) Phil Dawson. The respected vet has no competition at K.
52) Matt Wile. I’m going Wile in the Punter comp.
53) Aaron Brewer. He’s the LS folks.