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Young, Talented Cardinals: 25 and Under

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NFL: Super Bowl LIV-NFL Honors Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

When we take a close look at the youth the GM Steve Keim has added to the Arizona Cardinals’ roster over the past 3-4 years, in my opinion, it’s widely impressive.

Let’s imagine for a second that the NFL created an off-season league for 25 and under players—-if that was the case—-here would be the Cardinals starting lineups:

Offense:

1—-QB—-Kyler Murray (5-10, 207, 22, Oklahoma)

29—-RB—-Chase Edmonds (5-9, 210, 23, Fordham)

87—-TE—-Maxx Williams (6-4, 252, 25, Minnesota)

82—-TE—-Dan Arnold (6-6, 220, 24, Wisc.-Plateville)

66—-LT—-Joshua Miles (6-5, 314, 24, Morgan St.)

52—-LG—-Mason Cole (6-5, 292, 23, Michigan)

65—-C—-Lamont Gaillard (6-3, 305, 24, Georgia)

70—-RG—-Sam Jones (6-5, 290, 24, Arizona St.)

78—-RT—-Brett Toth (6-6, 291, 23, Army)

13—-WR—-Christian Kirk (5-11, 200, 23, Texas A&M)

89—-WR—-Andy Isabella (5-9, 188, 23, Massachusetts)

17—-WR—-Hakeem Butler (6-5, 227, 23, Iowa St.)

19—-WR—-KeeSean Johnson (6-1, 201, 23, Fresno St.)

15—-WC—-Chris Streveler (6-1, 216, 25, South Dakota)

Defense:

43—-SAM—-Haason Reddick (6-1, 235, 25, Temple)

97—-LDE—-Zach Allen (6-4, 281, 22, Boston College)

72—-NT—Miles Brown (6-2, 320, 22, Wofford)

91—-RDE—-Michael Dogbe (6-3, 284, 23, Temple)

49—-JACK—-Kylie Fitts (6-4, 260, 25, Utah)

42—-MIKE—-Dennis Gardeck (6-0, 232, 25, Sioux Falls)

51—-WILL—-Tanner Vallejo (6-1, 230, 25, Boise St.)

33—-LCB—-Byron Murphy (5-11, 190, 22, Washington)

34—-SS—-Jalen Thompson (5-11, 190, 21, Washington St.)

32—-FS—-Budda Baker (5-10, 195, 24, Washington)

25—-RCB—-Chris Jones (6-0, 200, 24, Nebraska)

27—-NCB—-Kevin Peterson (5-11, 185, 25, Oklahoma St.)

35—-NFS—-Deionte Thompson (6-1, 195, 23, Alabama)

Special Teams:

47—-ST—-Zeke Turner (6-2, 214, 23, Washington)

16—-ST—-Trent Sherfield (6-1, 219, 23, Vanderbilt)

5—-K—-Zane Gonzalez (6-0, 202, 24, Arizona St,)

9—-P—-Ryan Winslow (6-5, 217, 25, Pittsburgh)

Notes:

  • 31 players—-16 draft picks—-11 have started games
  • 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year—-QB Kyler Murray
  • 2019 Pro Bowl Starter—-FS Budda Baker
  • 2019 Pro Bowl Alternates—-QB Kyler Murray, ST Dennis Gardeck
  • 2020 Roster Bubble—-6 of the 31—-G Sam Jones, T Brett Toth, WC Chris Streveler, OLB Kylie Fitts, CB Kevin Peterson, P Ryan Winslow (but each has a decent chance of the roster and certainly of being signed to the PS)
  • 2020 Roster—-25 of 31—-are odds-on favorites right now to win roster spots—-plus—-rosters may be expanding to 55.
  • 2020 Projected Starters—-9 of 30—-QB Kyler Murray, TE Maxx Williams, WR Christian Kirk, SAM Haason Reddick, LDE, Zach Allen, CB Byron Murphy, SS Jalen Thompson, FS Budda Baker, K Zane Gonzalez

2019 PFF Grades:

Offense:

78.6—-TE Maxx Williams

76.5—-TE Dan Arnold

69.7—-RB Chase Edmonds

64.2—-WR Andy Isabella

64.2—-QB Kyler Murray

62.5—-WR Christian Kirk

60.4—-T Joshua Miles

58.4—-G Mason Cole

53.5—-WR KeeSean Johnson

Defense:

92.3—-WILL Tanner Vallejo

71.4—-FS Budda Baker

70.3—-SAM Kylie Fitts

67.5—-MIKE Dennis Gardeck

65.4—-SS Jalen Thompson

62.6—-CB Chris Jones

59.2—-CB Kevin Peterson

56.2—-DI Michael Dogbe

50.9—-FS Deionte Thompson

48.8—-CB Byron Murphy

48.6—-DI Zach Allen

46.7—-DI Miles Brown

40.0—-WILL Haason Reddick

Special Teams:

83.8—-ST—-Dennis Gardeck

70.4—-ST—-Tanner Vallejo

69.6—-K—-Zane Gonzalez

69.5—-ST—-Kevin Peterson

67.2—-ST—-Haason Reddick

66.8—-ST—-Andy Isabella

65.3—-ST—-Trent Sherfield

63.8—-ST—-Byron Murphy

63.6—-ST—-Chris Jones

62.2—-ST—-Deionte Thompson

62.2—-ST—-Budda Baker

61.5—-ST—-Joshua Miles

60.6—-P—-Ryan Winslow

60.5—-ST—-Zeke Turner

60.3—-ST—-Jalen Thompson

60.3—-ST—-Christian Kirk

60.1—-ST—-Miles Brown

Interesting PFF Stats:

  • Tackling Efficiency Among Defensive Interior Players: the 3 Cardinals rookies scored in the top 31 of the entire NFL (veterans and rookies): Zach Allen—-73.0—-#14; Michael Dogbe—-71.8—-#25, and Miles Brown—-70.5—-#31.
  • CB Chris Jones was the #13 highest rated NFL CB in pass coverage for CBs who logged over 100 snaps. In 190 snaps Jones allowed 13 catches on 25 targets (a mere 52%) for 206 yards (64 RAC yards) and 0 TDs.

Player Development:

  • It’s time to stop quitting on young players prematurely.
  • It’s also time to stop pigeonholing young players, in some cases from the minute they arrive at the Cardinals’ facility. Every player deserves a decent chance to develop and grow within the system and to expand his role with team as the player assimilates into the system and as the level of his play evolves.
  • Every player deserves the chance to compete for the starting jobs. Stop giving preferential treatment to underperforming veterans—-make it clear to all of the players that the “next man up” policy is in full effect and that no player gets freebies or gets away with coaches making excuses for them.
  • It’s time to stop giving veterans days off during game week. If a veteran is not capable of being a part of the team on a daily basis, then he should take days off somewhere else. Practice is too important to miss from a teamwork, game planning, continuity and communication standpoint.
  • Effort and commitment should be of the highest priority.
  • I expanded somewhat on these thoughts in the recent ROTB podcasts with Blake and Johnny. Did you listen to the podcast? I am a rookie when to comes to podcasting, so your feedback and suggestions would be helpful.

Thanks Blake and Johnny for inviting and welcoming me to the show. To exchange ideas and opinions with passionate, insightful Cardinals’ fans like you is a joy.