Today the Cardinals media department released the team’s first official depth chart of the season.
With quite a few positional battles taking place, this is a good first step for fans to project who’s on the field, who’s off it, and who may be in danger of falling off the roster:
So what can we learn from this depth chart? Let’s take a look:
#1. Kyler is the only true rookie with a starting spot...right now
Is there any surprise? Perhaps with how Keesean Johnson has looked but it’s still about #1 and there’s definitely no QB competition to be found, as expected. It’s definitely strange, however, as even last year, Sam Darnold as a rookie was the 3rd QB ranked on their depth chart, behind Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. Carson Wentz was ranked behind his peers during his rookie season as well.
The other rookies are all 2nd team at most for now....but there’s quite a few of them with every player from round 2, 3, 5 and 6 filling in at a 2nd team spot. Kinda crazy and impressive.
Usually most teams give the veteran at least a chance to have the first spot, even if they’re going to start the rookie (most wanting them to win the job or not fall on their face).
Not the Cardinals. Not Kliff Kingsbury.
Speaking of QB’s, Chad Kanoff’s still seemingly > Drew Anderson. We’ll see if that’s the case, if they switch or if both end up gone.
2. That all important “OR” at the battle for Center
Only one can be the Center of attention in the end, but for now there can be two, and in alphabetical order no less.
Mason Cole and A.Q. Shipley are marked not as that order but as 1A and 1B respectively, showing that it’s still an ongoing battle for the starting gig. For my money, I think Shipley is the guy they’ll want and the guy who will win it, but that’s not guaranteed at this point by a longshot.
3. Interesting receiver placement...that doesn’t match the on-field
From this depth chart, you’d assume that Andy Isabella is WR4 and would be lining up with the first team offense when they go 4 wide (which happens...quite a bit actually).
Instead, he’s hardly spent time with the first team and it’s been KeeSean Johnson (who’d be likely #5 here) along with Trent Sherfield and Damiere Byrd who’ve been in that spot rotating along with Kevin White (who gets the first-team nod). Clearly, either they think highly of Isabella enough to put him here despite the field looks or it’s positionally not as key as we might think to hold fast to this chart about where guys are placed.
Speaking of which, Hakeem Butler falls behind a lot of other guys where he might look like WR8 and the last guy on the roster, but given his draft status and unique ability it’s doubtful he’s near the “bubble” at all like this chart might say.
4. Clay gets his respect...as does Maxx Williams
Last year on the Cardinals’ depth chart (more on that in a bit) recovering or injured players like Jermaine Gresham were listed at the end of the line.
Instead, we see Charles Clay, despite not practicing a lick so far, being put in the coveted TE1 territory. It seems possible that he’s still being counted on in a major way for the team as a blocker and receiver. Otherwise you’d have expected Ricky Seals-Jones in that spot...right? I mean look at Max Garcia, who isn’t even close to a starting or backup role at the end of the line, yet there is Clay.
Speaking of blocking, Maxx Williams comes in ahead of Jones at the TE2 spot which makes sense given how often he’s lined up in running situations. They’re both ahead of the #2 receiving tight end in the NFC west last year in Ricky Seals-Jones of course, which is interesting.
5. Could we see a surprise at strong safety?
The defensive line and linebackers plays out as expected being a true 3-4 with a nose tackle (outside of some interesting choices with young players over some newly added vets at DE and ILB and Pete Robertson behind Terrell Suggs) but what’s interesting is where the Thompson-Thompson safety combo find themselves behind Budda Baker at FS.
That means that the only backup strong safety listed behind D.J. Swearinger is Josh Shaw, and he indeed’s been getting starting reps with Swearinger sidelined with an injury.
The fact that Arizona don’t see either Thompson filling the SS role might mean that a surprise that many didn’t pick to make the roster could actually see it come to fruition.
6. Byrd & Cooper in a precarious state?
Looking at the special teams, two things stand out:
- The kick returners and punt returners from last year are still there in Logan & Kirk (who might not end up in that role)
- Pharoah Cooper’s it behind them, with no mention of Byrd or Isabella
This is a bit odd as it’s possible that Byrd could fill both these roles, and it’s also interesting to see Cooper, who’s way down on the WR depth chart, as the only backup with no mention of Byrd, who’s gotten first team reps.
It makes you wonder if those two will see time at the position or if Cooper’s going to have a specific role doing one or both of those tasks...but then again...if that were the case why not put him for both as the starter?
Either way, if those positions really will be seeing those two players fill them, it doesn’t bode well for the other wide receivers playing special teams.
7. Let’s take a deep breath and not overreact...just look at 2018.
What did the first released depth chart last year look like? Was it different?
Look at it.
Just look at it!
Some things came to fruition from this chart, sure.
But...Chris Campbell (who was cut by AZ) after Patrick Peterson?
Chad Williams ahead of Christian Kirk and C.J. Duncan ahead of Trent Sherfield?
Brice Butler as a starter?? (Before he was ALSO released post-preseason)
Nkemdiche ahead of Gunter in a different spot?
Yeah a LOT changed before week 1, didn’t it? Which is why we shouldn’t take these lists tooo seriously. In fact when you look at that cornerback room entering 2018 you’d have guessed that Deatrich Nichols didn’t make the team.
Instead, he and Brandon Williams are the only holdovers along with Patrick Peterson on that entire CB room coming into this year. Kinda funny, huh?
These charts are guesses and projections based on the current time, and aren’t read as law but rather a chance to gain either some new info or to at the very least, speculate on it.
Which until Week 1 and the official depth chart appears, is about all that we as Cards fans can do.
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