clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cardinals Wide Receiver Outlook: Fitzgerald, Kirk, and Lamb?

The Cardinals’ 2019 draft class should have a bigger impact in 2020

NFL: SEP 22 Panthers at Cardinals Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cardinals’ wide receiver corps is highlighted by the return of Larry Fitzgerald. The soon-to-be 37-year-old receiver finished the 2019 season with 75 receptions, 804 receiving yards, and four touchdowns.

Fitzgerald continues to defy the odds at his age and remains the most consistent player on the team. He might be the safety blanket for Kyler Murray but the top receiver for the Cardinals last season was Christian Kirk.

Kirk was a 2018 second-round pick and is expected to be the heir apparent to Fitzgerald when he retires. He was on pace for a 1000-yard season but missed three games in 2019. He still finished the season with 68 receptions, 709 receiving yards, and three touchdowns.

GM Steve Keim made a strong push for receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft, selecting Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, and KeeSean Johnson.

Isabella was a standout prospect at the NFL Combine, after running a 4.31 40-yard dash. Although he was a highly productive receiver at UMass and was selected in the second round, his impact was limited as he finished the year with only nine catches.

Butler spent the year on injury reserve with a hand injury. KeeSean Johnson was a six-round selection that flashed exceptional route-running ability in the preseason but was a healthy scratch in the final five games of the regular season.

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals
Wide receiver Andy Isabella #89 of the Arizona Cardinals runs for a touchdown after a catch against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of the NFL football game at State Farm Stadium
Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Despite the underwhelming performances from their rookie receivers, expectations remain as high as ever for them as they enter their second year in the NFL. Isabella showed off his blazing speed in limited reps and it is not far-fetched for him to have a Tyreek Hill-like impact.

The Cardinals were in need of bigger targets last season. The return of Butler should help with that, as he stands at 6-foot-5 227 pounds. KeeSean Johnson could work his way into the starting lineup after leaving good impressions early in 2019. With a full year learning the playbook, they should be even better with much-improved communication with Murray.

Even with the load of young talent at the receiver position, the Cardinals still need to figure out what to do with the impending free agents in Damiere Byrd and Pharoh Cooper.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Pharoh Cooper (12) returns the opening kickoff during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at State Farm Stadium.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Byrd was claimed by the Cardinals off waivers last offseason and set career-highs in catches (32) and receiving yards (359). Cooper was the primary return specialist and was often a dependable receiver. Both are inexpensive options and expect at least one of them to be re-signed.

Trent Sherfield has been a quality special teams player but will have to fight for a roster spot. Johnnie Dixon and A.J. Richardson signed with the Cardinals on future contracts.

Don’t expect the Cardinals to add any new receivers via free agency. Many mock drafts has the team drafting either Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb with their first round pick. With the 2020 draft class being the deepest at the receiver position, the team could pass on a receiver in the first and select one in the later rounds.

Expect the team to have at least seven receivers on their 53-man roster.