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Practice Squad Frenzy

New England Patriots v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Background: TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 19: Corey Dillon #28 of the New England Patriots is tackled by Quentin Harris #29 of the Arizona Cardinals at Sun Devil Stadium on September 19, 2004 in Tempe, Arizona. The Patriots won 23-12.

The Sweet 16

This week it was reported by the Washington Post’s Mark Maske that the NFL practice squad will be increased from 12 to 16 players this season.

Maske also added that in order to thwart the inevitable frenzy of practice squad poaching, every week the teams will be able to protect 4 practice squad players from being signed by other teams.

Players on the practice squad will be eligible twice to be activated for game days without having to pass through waivers when sent back. After a third time, a player would have to pass through waivers.

How the 16 Player Practice Squad Affects the Picking of the 53 Man Roster

Seeing as teams will have such added flexibility with their practice squad players, it should behoove teams to keep players whom they believe would be most apt to be claimed off of waivers during the paring of rosters from 80 to 53.

It should also behoove teams to be very quiet about how their players are performing in camp. The thing is—-no younger player on the roster this year is going to jump off the tape for NFL GMs—-because there won’t be any pre-season games.

Therefore, teams will have to rely on their college and pro personnel experts to identify bubble players from each team who could be possible waiver wire claims.

The good news for the Cardinals, in my opinion, is that their team of personnel evaluators (Steve Keim, Terry McDonough, Quentin Harris and Adrian Wilson) is competent at building the back end of the roster with such recent waiver wire acquisitions as T Justin Murray, T Brett Toth, WR Pharoh Cooper, TE Darrell Daniels, LB Tanner Vallejo, CB Kevin Peterson and TE Dan Arnold.

Cardinals’ 2020 Bubble Players Most Susceptible to Possible Waiver Claim Interest

If I was a personnel director of another NFL team, here are the bubble players on the Cardinals who would intrigue me:

  • QB Chris Streveler—-multiple skills as QB, RB, WR and ST player
  • RB Eno Benjamin—-top shelf college production and aggressive running style
  • TE Dylan Cantrell——fits the mold as a dependable NFL TE receiving threat
  • WR Hakeem Butler—-hard to find WRs with his blend of size, speed and toughness
  • WR Johnnie Dixon—-pure speed always garners attention
  • WR Jo Jo Ward—-nifty playmaker who is productive from both slot and perimeter
  • T Brett Toth—-has the size, strength and agility to be an asset at RT or G
  • T Joshua Miles—-has the size, strength and agility to be an asset at LT or G
  • G/C Max Garcia—-versatile starter and swing man, now recovered from 2018 ACL tear
  • DT Michael Dogbe—-has value as interior pass rusher
  • LB Tanner Vallejo—-has the tackling and coverage ability to be starter at WILB, plus ST asset
  • LB Evan Weaver—-tackling ace
  • OLB Kylie Fitts—-has edge rushing ability and a solid 2019 PFF grade
  • CB Chris Jones—-2019 numbers are sneaky good. Led team in lowest catch % in coverage at 51%
  • CB Charles Washington—-one of best gunners in NFL
  • CB Zane Lewis—-Cardinals had to outbid a number of interested teams in signing him to UCFA contract—-his college tapes are too impressive to ignore
  • S Ezekiel Turner—-ST baller
  • S Chris Banjo—-ST standout
  • P Ryan Winslow—former 1st team ACC punter who thus far in NFL games has a line of 6/291yds./48.5ave./2 inside 20

Waiver Wire Frenzy

When cuts are made in early September as teams trim their rosters to 53 players, this could be one of the most frenzied two days of waiver claims and trades, as teams attempt to add talent at positions of need. The attrition on some of the teams due to injuries, no-shows and players testing positive for COV-19 is apt to be higher than ever—-plus, a number of teams will be making practice squad sales pitches to players waived by other teams, particularly at positions of immediate need because practice squad players can now be activated and collect game checks. Thus, NFL fans are apt to see a waiver wire frenzy this year unlike any other.

Hail to the “VP of Stuff” Adrian Wilson because he is going to be busier than ever this year!

Go get ‘em, A-Dub!