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Cardinals 53-man roster prediction

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Tough decisions to make at the wide receiver position

Arizona Cardinals Introduce Kyler Murray Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals drafted 11 players in the 2019 draft, in addition to signing 12 undrafted free agents. Their 2019 class is ranked the best on NFL.com and now, on paper, the Cardinals have one of the most-improved rosters in the NFL.

It is possible that at the conclusion of the preseason, the Cardinals could potentially cut some of their later-round draft picks. Maybe they have a gem in one of their undrafted free agents. The Cardinals could add a few more veteran players to the roster during the offseason, as they did with the signing of Maxx Williams last week.

With that said, here is my prediction on the Cardinals 53-man roster:

bold = starter, * = rookie, italics = free agent addition

QB (2): Kyler Murray*, Brett Hundley

With Josh Rosen shipped to Miami, Kyler Murray will be the day one starter. Hundley is the only quarterback on the roster with regular season experience but I could see the team adding another veteran later in the offseason. I’m very intrigued with undrafted free agent QB Drew Anderson, a player that displayed some dual-threat capabilities at Murray State. Him and Charles Kanoff will likely battle for a spot on the practice squad.

RB (4): David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, D.J. Foster, T.J. Logan

It doesn’t look like the Cardinals will keep a fullback on the roster, after letting Derrick Coleman walk in free agency. That creates an opening, for a total of four running backs to make the roster. David Johnson is the obvious starter. Undrafted free agent Xavier Turner rushed for 1,469 yards and 22 touchdowns last season at Tarleton State, so he’ll be in the mix as well. Logan’s value as a return specialist should be enough to make him the fourth running back on the depth chart.

WR (7): Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella*, Hakeem Butler*, Kevin White KeeSean Johnson*, Trent Sherfield

Kingsbury will likely use his receivers in all sorts of ways, playing them on the outside and inside. The Cardinals revamped their wide receiver corps in a big way, adding three receivers through the draft. Isabella and Butler should have big roles on the offense this season, despite being rookies. Last year’s undrafted rookie Trent Sherfield made his mark on special teams and was one of Josh Rosen’s favorite targets when Kirk went down with an injury. Kevin White and Pharoh Cooper are veteran receivers that the Cardinals would like to keep. I truly believe this team has a good chance at keeping seven receivers on their roster.

TE (3): Charles Clay, Ricky Seals-Jones, Maxx Williams

I expect the Cardinals to keep only three tight ends on the final roster. Clay and Seals-Jones are locks to make the roster for now. The Cardinals recently signed Maxx Williams to a one-year deal, making it a little more difficult for Caleb Wilson, their seventh-round pick, to make the roster. Williams was a good blocker and a solid pass catcher in his career but just needs to stay healthy. They will be competing with Darrell Daniels, Drew Belcher, and Jerome Washington for the final tight end spot.

OL (9): D.J. Humphries, Justin Pugh, Mason Cole, J.R. Sweezy, Marcus Gilbert, A.Q. Shipley, Korey Cunningham, Max Garcia, Lamont Gaillard*

The starters are set. Shipley and Gaillard might have to battle it out for a roster spot, but I expect both to make the cut. Cunningham is now the primary swing tackle, after John Wetzel signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Max Garcia started 41 games in four seasons. His experience with offensive line coach Sean Kugler and significant starting experience could edge out Colby Gossett for a roster spot. I expect the Cardinals to bring back Gossett on their practice squad. Seventh-round pick Joshua Miles has all the physical tools to succeed but his lack of instincts is evident in his play. He’ll have a chance to make the roster, with the likelihood of landing on a practice squad.

DL (7): Darius Philon, Corey Peters, Rodney Gunter, Zach Allen*, Michael Dogbe*, Vincent Valentine, Cameron Malveaux, Robert Nkemdiche (PUP)

Free-agent acquisition Darius Philon continues to improve every season and is expected to be a starter. He is solid as a pass rusher but even better against the run. Corey Peters is the captain of the defensive line. Rodney Gunter played as a nose tackle in a 3-4 in the past but is expected to be the other starting defensive tackle. It’s not every day we see a defensive end like rookie Zach Allen make 100 tackles in a single season. He’ll be a starter sooner rather than later for the Cardinals. Nkemdiche is expected to return mid-season and will likely remain on PUP. Seventh-round pick Michael Dogbe will be a key rotational player on the defensive line until Nkemdiche returns. Vincent Valentine is the only other nose tackle with starting experience on the roster.

OLB (4): Chandler Jones, Terrell Suggs, Brooks Reed, Vontarrius Dora

Jones should be very happy that he will see less double teams this season with future Hall of Famer Terrell Suggs playing opposite of him. If you thought the Cardinals’ pass rush in 2018 was good, it should be even better this season. Reed had his best games playing as a 3-4 outside linebacker and will likely be in rotation with Suggs to keep them both fresh. Last year’s preseason sensation Vontarrius Dora will battle with undrafted rookie James Folston Jr for a roster spot. Don’t be surprised if the Cardinals bring in Shane Ray, who is currently a free agent, to compete for spot on the back end of the roster.

ILB (5): Jordan Hicks, Haason Reddick, Tanner Vallejo, Zeke Turner, Dennis Gardeck

After Hicks and Reddick, no other inside linebacker on the roster has significant starting experience. A potential Josh Bynes return should not be ruled out. Last year’s two undrafted linebackers to make the team Zeke Turner and Dennis Gardeck are two special teams players that the Cardinals really like.

CB (5): Patrick Peterson, Robert Alford, Byron Murphy*, Tramaine Brock, Josh Shaw

Peterson, Alford, and Murphy are a dangerous trio of cornerbacks. Murphy reminds me of a bigger Tyrann Mathieu, and we all know the success he has had. Brock’s experience playing for Vance Joseph along with his extensive NFL experience are two factors that will make him beat out David Amerson for a spot on the roster. Josh Shaw’s versatility to play both cornerback and safety, along with special teams, should finally put an end to Brandon Williams time with the Cardinals, who’s struggled since being a third-round pick in 2016.

S (4): Budda Baker, D.J. Swearinger, Deionte Thompson*, Rudy Ford

Baker moves back to his natural position as a safety, after playing primarily in the slot last season. Swearinger is a tone-setter and a player that brings a lot of energy to a defense. Fifth-round pick Deionte Thompson is a rookie to watch, being one of the better safeties in college football last season that saw his draft stock drop due to injury and speed concerns.

ST (3): Zane Gonzalez, Andy Lee, Aaron Brewer

The special teams unit is pretty much set. The Cardinals recently added punter Ryan Winslow but he shouldn’t be a threat to take Andy Lee’s job.