Quarterbacks: Sam Bradford, Josh Rosen, Mike Glennon
The Cardinals are in a different spot than 2017 in which they had an aging veteran quarterback who had injury concerns in Palmer, an inconsistent veteran backup in Stanton and a veteran journeyman who had been a former top 10 pick in Gabbert.
They come into this year with a similar setup: a veteran QB with injury concerns in Bradford and an inconsistent backup in Mike Glennon, but the difference here is that their top 10 pick is Josh Rosen, a much anticipated rookie option.
Whereas Gabbert got benched for Stanton and couldn’t beat him out, Rosen has already passed up Mike Glennon and stands to potentially see time playing this season. They have a stable QB room but they currently don’t have a proven franchise quarterback on the roster who’s done it in the regular season and Bradford’s health issues and the fact he’s never had double-digit wins in a season holds them back. But, I’ll go with the optimism here for the grade as Arizona’s done a good job in not being in a position where Rosen would be forced into action too soon.
If he can showcase himself as being that elusive franchise quarterback, perhaps this grade turns into an A.
Running Back: David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, T.J. Logan
Maybe the strongest positional depth on the Arizona Cardinals, adding a promising rookie in Chase Edmonds to an already top 3 running back in David Johnson means that Arizona has an excellent chance to have one of the better rushing attacks in the NFL.
Logan is a very strong 3rd option with his game-breaking speed, and the injury to D.J. Foster (a talented 3-down back who makes a fine backup and whose loss will definitely be felt) is the only reason this group doesn’t get an A+ grade from me.
Fullback: Derrick Coleman
The first ever legally deaf player to win a Super Bowl (he does wear hearing aids), Coleman is a fine blocking fullback who can catch out of the backfield and will be a solid, if not star or elite like other fullbacks, for Arizona.
Wide Receiver: Larry Fitzgerald, Chad Williams, Christian Kirk, J.J. Nelson, Trent Sherfield
After Larry Fitzgerald (the GOAT, obviously) there’s very little depth or experience outside of J.J. Nelson on the Cardinals, and he barely made the roster. Fortunately, 2nd round pick Christian Kirk is a special teams impact guy and should be seeing some playing time and 3rd round pick Chad Williams can get yardage after the catch...but until either prove themselves it’s the Fitzgerald show.
Offensive Line: D.J. Humphries, John Wetzel, Korey Cunningham, Mike Iupati, Jeremy Vujnovich, Mason Cole, Daniel Munyer, Justin Pugh, Andre Smith, Blaine Clausell
This is an offensive line that could swing either way—if they can carve up opposing defensive lines for David Johnson and protecting Sam Bradford, it might end up an A grade. If they can’t protect their quarterback or are inconsistent and penalized, it might ruin the team this year. For now? I think it’s a strong team and if Mason Cole can perform well as a rookie they could go a long way.
Tight End: Jermaine Gresham, Ricky Seals-Jones, Gabe Holmes
Grade: C (With a healthy Gresham, B- Without him healthy, D+)
It’s hard to grade this group but Seals-Jones, until he’s proven it on the field, is more of a TE2 than a leading tight end and he struggles in blocking. Holmes is a typical blocking tight end. Adding a healthy Gresham changes the mix entirely but will he be healthy enough to make an impact? For now I’m in the middle on this one.
Defensive Line: Corey Peters, Robert Nkemdiche, Olsen Pierre, Rodney Gunter, Garrison Smith
Again, a lot ends up depending on one player in this group, but even if Robert Nkemdiche doesn’t live up to the expectations, the team has enough depth with Gunter and Pierre to more than make up for it.
There is no doubt that Corey Peters is getting up there in age but he’s still one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the NFL. Arizona needs to keep gap integrity but if they can, it’ll be a solid unit.
Defensive End: Chandler Jones, Markus Golden, Benson Mayowa, Zach Moore, Jacquies Smith
Grade: A- (with healthy Markus Golden A+, without him, B+)
The presence of Chandler Jones is enough to make this grade an A. But without any proven member across from him, it’s tough to know if Arizona can generate any additional pass rush or run stopping. They have bodies at the position but not experience and if they can find that or if Golden will return to form, it’ll be great. If he fails to do that...it’ll be the Chandler Jones show again anyway. He’s a wrecking force.
Linebacker: Deone Bucannon, Hassan Reddick, Josh Bynes, Zeke Turner, Dennis Gardeck, Gerald Hodges
This grade might have been lower if it wasn’t for Zeke Turner blowing up and looking like a future stud after moving from Safety to Linebacker in the same mold as Bucannon. Arizona has good starters but they are a little bit light comparatively. It’s undeniable that they do have smarts in Bynes and athleticism in spades in Bucannon and Reddick. It’s be a fun group to watch with the new scheme that favors linebackers under Al Holcomb.
Cornerback: Patrick Peterson, Jamar Taylor, Bene Benewikere, Deatrick Nichols, Brandon Williams,
Maybe the strongest secondary that we have seen in years for Arizona, with Budda Baker as an honorary member as the nickel cornerback on third down for the team as well. Nichols wowed in the pass and run game to beat out Christian Campbell and while the team might not have a true lockdown at the #2 spot, they have unbelievable depth. Add in Patrick Peterson getting his hands on more balls and this group might be something special.
Safety: Budda Baker, Antoine Bethea, Tre Boston, Rudy Ford
Easily the strongest position group on the Cardinals. Two savvy vets and a mini Honey Badger along with a freak athlete and special teamer in Rudy Ford. There’s a lot to like here for the Cardinals and while if there’s a serious injury the depth will be questioned, they have a stellar final line of defense with three players who could have been Pro Bowl-caliber talents last year (or actually were).
You can follow @blakemurphy7 on Twitter.