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2018 Cardinals’ RBs

Who is on the roster, who is a free agent and who could the Cardinals add this offseason?

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Under Contract:

37 D.J. Foster (6-0, 195, 24, 3, Arizona St. 2017 stats: 6/19/3.2/0 rush, 17/133/7.8/0 rec.)---quick, tough 3rd down type RB. Possible punt returner. Plays hard, lacks top end speed.

48 Bronson Hill (5-10, 215, 25, 2, Eastern Michigan. 2017 stats: 1/-2/-2 rush.)---college stats: 421/2,362/5.6/11 rush.; 37/526/14.2/4 rec. Running style is very similar to David Johnson’s, feels for the hole, bursts through, makes slalom cuts in open field, very good catch and go receiver.

31 David Johnson (6-1, 224, 26, 4, Northern Iowa. 2017 stats: 6/19/3.2/0 rush.; 6/67/11.2/0 rec.)---budding superstar knocked out of the last 2 games he’s played (knee & wrist). Sensational dual-purpose RB, who smells out creases and busts through them. Upright and slalom running style leaves legs exposed and puts added stress on knees. Will new RB coach Kirby Wilson, help refine Johnson’s technique? Outstanding balance and stiffarm---his chief mode of protection. Can also thrive at WR. Is at times unstoppable in the open field.

22 T.J. Logan (5-10, 195, 23, 2, North Carolina St.)---was having very good pre-season as 3rd down RB and starting KO returner until he broke his wrist in pass protection. Has major league burst. Runs hard. High effort player with excellent receiving skills.

35 Elijaah Penny (6-2, 234, 24, 2, Idaho. 2017 stats: 31/124/4.0/2 TD rush; 4/35/9.5/0 rec,)---power RB who hits the hole hard and lowers his shoulder on contact. Lacks breakaway speed, but is effective in power running scheme and is one of the better STs players on the roster. Improving as a receiver.

23 Adrian Peterson (6-2, 217, 32, 11, Oklahoma. 2017 stats: 156/521/3.4/2 TD rush.; 19/70/6.4/0 TD rec.)---had a couple of 100 yard games for the Cardinals until injuring his neck. Would count $3.5M on the 2018 cap and is likely to be released.

38 Darius Victor (5-8, 209, 23, 1, Towson St.)---college stats: 637/3,309/5.2/44 TD rush.; 20/141/7.1/1 TD rec. Was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Saints. Sean Payton lauded Victor for his compact rushing style, ability to fight for yards after contact and stop and go burst. More quick than fast. Teammates and friends call him Vito.

UFA:

33 Kerwynn Williams (5-8, 198, 26, 5, Utah St. 2017 stats: 120/426/3.6/1; 10/93/9.3/0)---tough as nails, diminutive RB who plays through pain (cracked ribs) and scraps for every inch. Hits the hole hard and can scoot in the open field. Inconsistent pass protector and receiver. Loved by his teammates.

Analysis:

The main question is how to keep David Johnson healthy and how to maximize his talents. One of the principal focuses of the offense should be to find a variety of ways to get David Johnson the ball in the open field where he is a home run threat. Switching him between RB and WR would aid and abet that cause and it would vastly improve the WR talent and production.

Last year when Johnson was lost for the season with a broken wrist, it was quite a RB scramble after that. Chris Johnson was re-signed, rushed for 45 yards at 2.4 yards per carry and released. The Cardinals essential traded 2 6th round draft picks to acquire Adrian Peterson (according to overthhecap.com, the Cardinals lose what would have been a 6th round comp pick because Peterson was a UFA and counts versus comp picks). Kerywnn Williams and Elijah Penny picked up the slack after Peterson’s injury.

Because of last year’s RB scramble and seeing as it would be wise to move David Johnson around like the queen on a chessboard, the Cardinals should add another potential stud RB to the roster. Re-signing Kerwynn Williams would be a popular choice, but another addition could mean wonders. Elijaah Penny should become a combo RB/FB who can help on running and short-yardage downs (I will write a FB thread at some point). T.J. Logan and D.J. Foster are good 3rd down RB options. Bronson Hill is a wild card and may surprise.

In searching for the one key addition at RB, the first name that comes to mind is Jonathan Stewart. Rumor is that the Panthers may not elect to give Stewart his $1.5M roster bonus in March, which would put his 2018 cap number over $5M. Of course, Steve Wilks and Ray Brown are very familiar with Stewart, who brings a power RB mentality and “physicality” to the table.

The second name that comes to mind is C.J. Anderson. Word with the Broncos is that they may move on from Anderson for cap reasons, especially if they are trying to sign UFA QB Kirk Cousins. Mike McCoy is very familiar with Anderson and could be influential in bringing Anderson to the Cardinals. Anderson is a banger who has quick acceleration and a real nose for the end zone. He’s entering his 6th season this year.

Other UFA’s of possible interest are:
Carlos Hyde(49ers);
Jerick McKinnon (Vikings);
LeGarrette Blount (Eagles);
Rex Burkhead (Patriots)
Jamaal Charles (Broncos).

Hyde is likely out of the Cardinals’ price range, but what a 1-2 punch Johnson and Hyde could be. McKinnon is a slasher who is hungry to prove he can be a star. Blount is a hammer and has won SB rings the past two years. Perhaps LGB could bring the Cardinals’ offense some swag. Burkhead is an aggressive runner between the tackles who is a good receiving threat. Charles has ties to McCoy and, if he still has gas in the tank, is a dual threat.

2018 NFL Draft RB Prospects:

* Sony Michel (5-11, 212, Georgia. 2017 stats: 1,227/7.9/16 TD rush.; 9/96/1TD rec.)
* Kerryon Johnson (6-0, 212, Auburn. 1,341/4.9/18 TD rush.; 24/194/2 TD rec.)
* Derrius Guice (5-11, 212, LSU. 1,751/5.3/11 TD rush; 18/124/2 TD rec.)
* Ronald Jones (6-0, 200, USC). 1.550/5.9/19 TD rush.; 14/187/1 TD rec.)
* Nick Chubb (5-10, 220, Georgia. 1.345/6.0/15 TD rush.; 2/20/0 TD rec.)
* Kalen Ballage (6-2, 222, Arizona St. 657/4.3/6 TD rush.)
* Akrum Wadley (5-9, 188, Iowa. 1.109/4.4/10 TD rush.; 28/353/3 TD rec.)
* Royce Freeman (5-11, 230, Oregon. 1.475/6.0/14 TD rush.; 14/164/0 TD rec.)
* Josh Adams (6-2, 225, Notre Dame. 1,430/6.9/9 TD rush.; 13/101/0 TD rec.)
* Rashaad Penny (5-10, 224, San Diego St. 2,248/7.8/23 TD rush.; 19/135/2 TD rec.)

NFL.com ratings: (not counting Saquon Barkley---top 5 prospect)

6.4 Derrius Guice
6.4 Ronald Jones
5.9 Sony Michel
5.8 Kerryon Johnson
5.8 Rashaad Penny
5.6 Royce Freeman
5.6 Nick Chubb
5.5 Akrum Wadley
5.4 Kalen Ballage
5.1 Josh Adams

It’s unlikely that the Cardinals are going to draft a RB in the 1st or 2nd round. but with 2 picks in the 3rd round and 1 pick in the 4th round---the Cardinals may have the opportunity to draft Johnson, Penny, Freeman, Chubb or Wadley. Quite possibly, Ballage and Adams will be available in round 5.

Summary:

The Cardinals might be content to re-sign Kerwynn Williams and go with Johnson, Williams, Penny, Logan, Foster, Hill and Victor at RB. While Williams is highly deserving, is he on a par with Tevin Coleman or Alvin Kamara? The prolific RB tandems in the NFL right now, like Freeman/Coleman (Falcons) and Ingram/Kamara (Saints) makes their offenses all the more relentless and explosive.

Will the Cardinals choose to take a similar route at RB this year?

You be the judge. What do you think?