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Cardinals Pre-Draft Roster Analysis

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it from yesterday’s article , here is the Cardinals current “two deep” roster:

Offense (24 players):

QB: Kyler Murray (22); Brett Hundley (26)

RB: Kenyan Drake (26); Chase Edmonds (23)

TE: Maxx Williams (25); Dan Arnold (25)

WR: Larry Fitzgerald (36); Hakeem Butler (23)

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (27); KeeSean Johnson (23)

WR: Christian Kirk (23); Andy Isabella (23)

LT: D.J. Humphries (26); Joshua Miles (24)

LG: Justin Pugh (29); Max Garcia (28)

C: Mason Cole (23); Lamont Gaillard (24)

RG: J.R. Sweezy (30); Sam Jones (24)

RT: Justin Murray (26); Brett Toth (23)

WC: Chris Streveler (25); Trent Sherfield (24)

Defense (22 players):

SAM OLB: Devon Kennard (28); Haason Reddick (25)

LDE: Zach Allen (22); Jonathan Bullard (26)

NT: Corey Peters (31); Miles Brown (22)

RDE: Jordan Phillips (27); Michael Dogbe (23)

JACK OLB: Chandler Jones (30); Kylie Fitts (25)

MIKE ILB: Jordan Hicks (27): Dennis Gardeck (25)

WILL ILB: De’Vondre Campbell (26); Tanner Vallejo (25)

LCB: Patrick Peterson (29); Byron Murphy (22)

SS: Jalen Thomson (21); Charles Washington (27)

FS: Budda Baker (24); Deionte Thompson (23)

RCB: Robert Alford (31); Chris Jones (24)

Special Teams (6 players):

K Zane Gonzalez (24)

P Andy Lee (37); Ryan Winslow (25)

LS: Aaron Brewer (29)

ST: Zeke Turner (23); Chris Banjo (30)

Analysis:

  • Steve Keim has been doing a diligent job of adding key players at positions of need, while trying to maintain as much continuity as possible (re-signing 10 of the Cardinals’ own free agents!) in all three phases of the team, offense, defense and special teams.
  • The main reason why Keim’s efforts have been praiseworthy is that no one as yet knows when teams will be able to hold mini-camps—-if at all before the middle of July—-and thus maintaining as much continuity as possible should allow the Cardinals to hit the round running as best they can in training camp.
  • In all likelihood, this year’s rookies are going to have a difficult time of competing for starting jobs or key roles early on in the season because of the uncertain timetables as to when teams can hold OTAs and minicamps. Thus—-when you look at what Keim has done—-he has assembled bona fide starters and solid, young depth at every position so that the Cardinals will not be forced to rush in a rookie too quickly.
  • There has been a recent proposal from the GM Committee to postpone the NFL Draft (due to greater restrictions for urban teams and the inability to conduct necessary physicals and meetings for draft prospects with question marks, etc.), although it appears that the NFL would prefer to keep the draft as scheduled.
  • The way the Cardinals’ current roster is constructed, it appears that the positions the Cardinals could be targeting the most in the draft are: T, RB, OLB, ILB, S, DT (if they are unable to re-sign Zach Kerr or another UFA DT) and TE (if they are unable to re-sign Charles Clay)—-with reasons being the potential practice squad bubble players on the current two-deep: T Brett Toth, RB (no 3rd RB on roster and Kenyan Drake is on a 1 year deal), OLB Kylie Fitts, ILB Tanner Vallejo (De’Vondre Campbell is on a one year deal), S (Charles Washington and Chris Banjo are used primarily as ST aces).
  • My hunch is that Steve Keim would prefer to move down from #8 in order to add an extra pick or two. Seth Cox and I were discussing this last evening and it would not be surprising if the Cardinals traded down even into the teens or 20s (depending on the added draft pick haul) if they have comparably high grades on Ts Ezra Cleveland (Boise St.), Josh Jones (Houston) or Austin Jackson (USC)—-or—-if they think they can still draft one of those tackles in Round 2, if they pick up a 2nd rounder in the trade—-they could decided to take one of these following players:

WR John Jefferson (LSU)—-Jerry Sullivan’s favorite WR in the draft

RB K.J Dobbins (Ohio St.)—-the top bell cow RB in this class

DT Ross Blacklock (TCU), Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma)—-crackerjack defensive lineman the Cardinals have expressed interest in.

S Xavier McKinney (Alabama)—-stud, multi-talented defender

ILB Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma) or Patrick Queen (LSU)—-other star defenders the Cardinals have interviewed.

CB Trevon Diggs (Alabama), C.J. Henderson (Florida) or Kristian Fulton (LSU)—-all fit Vance Jospeh’s press CB mold..

The thing about all of these players mentioned above—-all of them should be off the board by the time the Cardinals pick at #72.

Thus, if the Cardinals have one or two of these players rated in their top 10, they can trade down to take him and add a Day 2 pick, plus maybe a Day 3 pick as well.

So, for the sake of discussion, let’s say the Cardinals trade the #8 pick to the Dolphins for their #18 (1st Round), #39 (2nd Round) and #153 (5th Round) picks, here is a mock of what they could accomplish:

18. Ezra Cleveland, T, Boise St. Has similar size, athleticism and feet to Eagles’ standout RT Lane Johnson. Can play both LT and RT.

39. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU. With Kyler Murray, he forms nearly impossible tandem and 1-2 punch for LBers, at times, to see and pick up. Joe Burrow said Clyde was the toughest and most favorite teammate on the Tigers.

72. Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois. The length, quickness and speed to blanket TEs, as he did at the Senior Bowl.

114. James Lynch, 34DE, Baylor. 24/7 motor who manifests tremendous determination to tackle RBs and get to the QB.

131. Kevin Dotson, G, Louisiana Tech. #1 grade (92.1) at G in 2019, per PFF.

153. Evan Weaver, ILB, California. Tackling magnet whom the Cardinals have shown extensive interest in..

202. Derrek Tuszka, OLB/DE, North Dakota St. Tenacious edge rusher. The defensive MVP of the Missouri Valley Conference (1st Team All-American), Tuszka’s 48 tackles and 13 12 sacks helped lead the Bison to another national championship.

222. J.J. Taylor, RB, Arizona. Super quick and elusive, albeit under-sized.

What do you think of this draft as it would compare to taking T Jedrick Wills or T Tristan Wirfs at #8 and taking Cleveland, Edwards-Helaire and Weaver out of the equation?