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Cardinals’ Young WRs

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pictured above: Cardinals WRs Christian Kirk (#13) and Andy Isabella (#89) celebrating one of Kirk’s TDs versus the Bucs.

By now Cardinals’ fans know that the team did not draft a WR the 2020 NFL Draft. Although the draft was especially deep at WR and the Cardinals had interest in a number of prospects, Kliff Kingsbury recently reminded the fans how high he and the team are on the young receivers they already have at the position.

Here are some of my thoughts about the players.

#13—-Christian Kirk (Round 2 of 2018 draft):

Strengths:

  • Quick feet.
  • Makes excellent over the shoulder catches.
  • Sneaky deep threat.

Shortcomings (thus far):

  • Hasn’t emerged as the shifty RAC kind of slot receiver he was at Texas A&M.
  • Seems to fashion himself as more of an “X” receiver (wide) than a “Z” (slot, flanker).
  • Injuries and inconsistency have limited his production.

Outlook:

In my opinion, Christian Kirk needs to create more of an identity for himself. He has had some highlight worthy games (Bucs’ game was sensational), but hasn’t stacked them yet. His confidence level seems to ebb and flow. He has the talent to be a 1,000 yard receiver if he embraces a more diversified role—-meaning he learns to thrive in the slot.

#89—-Andy Isabella (Round 2 of 2019 draft)

Strengths:

  • Blistering speed (4.31).
  • More versatile and tougher than you think.
  • Big play threat who can make defenders miss in the open field.

Shortcomings:

  • Shedding press coverage.
  • Short catch radius.
  • Doesn’t always use his speed to his advantage due to wasted steps and fakes.

Outlook:

Whenever a player combines high end talent with a first-rate work ethic, the results could be extraordinary. In my opinion, the Cardinals mishandled Andy Isabella last season. They should have put him on the field from day one and let him learn and grow each week while on the field, not on the sidelines. Much was made about his tendency to body catch. But he’s very good and comfortable at it—-let him be—-as long as he’s catching the ball, which he did with ease in limited action when thrown to—-fine. Give him the freedom to play fast and free. Is at his best when put in motion from the slot. Hard for CBs to keep up with him.

#19—-KeeSean Johnson (6th Round 2019 draft)

Strengths:

  • Size, stride, strong hands and body control.
  • Smooth, effortless route runner.
  • Improvisational ability when plays break down.

Shortcomings:

  • Getting off press coverage.
  • Kicking his gear up a notch.
  • Working the middle of the field.

Outlook:

Kyle Sloter raves about KeeSean’s overall talent and feels he could be a stud #2 WR in the league one he develops. When he learns to mix his speeds and sell his fakes, he’s very apt to have some high production games.

#17—-Hakeem Butler (4th Round 2019 draft)

Strengths:

  • Size and speed ratio is impressive.
  • Very physical, particularly after the catch.
  • Bounces off defenders and sometimes runs over them.

Shortcomings:

  • Dropped passes, lapses in concentration.
  • Getting off press coverage and selling his fakes.
  • Needs a quicker get-off on the snap.

Outlook:

is just starting to refine the craft of route running. Could get away with predictable route running techniques in college because of his size and ability to leverage the CB. But, because he knows how to use his size to his advantage, he is a formidable threat on 50/50 balls. While he projects as an “X” receiver, he could wind up thriving in a “Y” role, as Larry Fitzgerald has the past few years.

#16—-Trent Sherfield (UDFA in 2018)

Strengths:

  • Physical, attack-style receiver.
  • Slippery when he gets a step up the sideline.
  • Strong and gutsy on catches over the middle.

Shortcomings:

  • Tends to get overlooked, in part due to his special teams value.
  • Dropped a couple of passes in key situations last year.
  • Needs to play faster—-doesn’t take full advantage of his 4.45 speed.

Outlook:

Trent Sherfield played like a WR stud in the pre-season last year, making a number of big catches and scoring a couple of impressive TDs, one up the left sideline that he snatched in the end zone and dragged his toes to complete. He’s the most under-rated WR on the roster, in my opinion. But, he needs to impress the coaches and earn playing time they way Pharoh Cooper did last year.

#12—-Johnny Dixon (UDFA in 2019)—-ran 4.41 at Combine, was one of Ohio St.’s deep threats. had 17 TD and nearly 20 yards per catch his last two seasons with the Buckeyes.

#83—-A.J. Richardson (UDFA in 2019)—-turned some heads with a good performance in the 4th pre-season game last year. Has a smooth release, good vision and reliable hands—-had 1.319 yards and 10 TDs his last two seasons at Boise St. His 4.62 40 at his pro day kept him from getting drafted.

#14—-Jo Jo Ward (UDFA in 2020)—-Jo Jo Ward and Cedric Byrd were Hawaii’s go-to WRs in their spread offense the past two seasons—-with Ward amassing 1.999 yards (17.2 ypc) and 20 TDs the past two seasons. Ran a 4.47 40 at his pro day. It’s somewhat surprising he wasn’t invited to the Combine or drafted. Kliff Kingsbury has already said how excited he is to work with the speedy Waco, Texas native.