The NFL regular season opener between the Houston Texans and the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs is only 16 days away while the Cardinals are 19 days away from their Week 1 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.
Over the last few weeks, teams across the NFL have added more veterans to their rosters to not only compete for depth on their final 53 but to also potentially stash on their practice squad.
The Cardinals signed three veteran cornerbacks after Robert Alford went down with a season-ending pectoral tear.
With that said, here is my 53-man roster prediction:
Quarterbacks (3): Kyler Murray, Brett Hundley, Chris Streveler
Murray is the franchise quarterback and Hundley is the primary backup. Streveler is an interesting player to keep an eye on. Special teams coach Jeff Rodgers experimented with him on the special teams unit and has been used in a hybrid role throughout training camp. Kliff Kingsbury can be even more creative on the offense with another athletic quarterback on the roster.
Running Backs (3): Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds, Eno Benjamin
Seventh-round pick Eno Benjamin was a reserve return specialist at Arizona State as well as a dynamic running back. Streveler could have some running back and special teams duties as well. This would leave D.J. Foster as the odd man out. Undrafted free agent Jonathan Ward, a likely practice squad candidate, runs with patience, something that has stood out on the footage that I have seen from him as a Cardinal and his time at Central Michigan.
Wide Receivers (7): DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, KeeSean Johnson, Hakeem Butler, Trent Sherfield
There has been a lot of speculation that Hakeem Butler, a 2019 fourth-round pick, is either going to get cut or traded. Last season, the Cardinals were one of the worst teams in the redzone. With Butler’s combination of size and speed, he should be an instant redzone threat as a mismatch in the endzone. JoJo Ward has been turning heads in training camp but this shortened offseason will make it difficult for him and other undrafted rookies to make the final roster.
Tight Ends (3): Maxx Williams, Dan Arnold, Darrell Daniels
Maxx Williams is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. Dan Arnold was a late season pickup for the Cardinals last season and has been dominant in training camp. Daniels has been practicing in Maxx Williams’ role on the offense on his absent days, giving him a big edge over Dylan Cantrell and Ryan Becker.
“But we like how Darrell has progressed in that role, year two in our system, and Dan does what Dan does,” said Kingsbury. “We hate not having Maxx but it’s giving those guys to maybe get in some roles that they weren’t previously getting as much work in.”
Offensive Line (9): D.J. Humphries, Justin Pugh, Mason Cole, J.R. Sweezy, Kelvin Beachum, Justin Murray, Josh Jones, Lamont Gaillard, Max Garcia
The only real question here is whether or not last year’s seventh-round pick Joshua Miles will make the roster. With the addition of third-round pick Josh Jones and Justin Murray’s role as the primary swing tackle if Beachum claims the starting job, it makes no sense to keep five offensive tackles on the roster. Miles is practice squad eligible as well as Brett Toth. Undrafted free agent Steven Gonzalez earned numerous awards at Penn State and is an intriguing player to watch as he battles for a backup guard spot.
Defensive Line (6): Jordan Phillips, Corey Peters, Zach Allen, Michael Dogbe, Leki Fotu, Rashard Lawrence
This is a tough one here. Jonathan Bullard has more NFL experience than last year’s seventh-round pick Michael Dogbe. However, Dogbe flashed quite a bit in the 2019 preseason and has already impressed defensive line coach Brentson Buckner. The Cardinals might keep seven defensive linemen but with three quality starters at the inside linebacker position, I cannot see it it happening.
Here is what he had to say about Dogbe and Zach Allen.
“Both of these guys have matured: weight-wise; strength-wise; and now you’re starting to see their natural ability take over.”
Inside Linebacker (5): Jordan Hicks, Isaiah Simmons, De’Vondre Campbell, Evan Weaver, Zeke Turner
Zeke Turner might not make the roster but his special teams play will make it difficult to cut him. Out of all the inside linebackers on this list, Hicks and Turner are the only two entering their second year in Vance Joseph’s defense. Simmons and Campbell will both be heavily utilized in this revamped defensive unit.
Outside Linebacker (5): Chandler Jones, Devon Kennard, Haason Reddick, Kylie Fitts, Dennis Gardeck
Dennis Gardeck was a Pro Bowl alternate and was one of the best special teams players in the NFL last season. Kylie Fitts flashed quite enough as a pass rusher last season to warrant a stay.
Cornerbacks (5): Patrick Peterson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Byron Murphy, Chris Jones, B.W. Webb
The Cardinals did sign three cornerbacks over the last seven days and all of the attention will be on them. Dre Kirkpatrick will be the starting cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson. B.W. Webb’s experience playing in the slot as well as his strong tackling gives him a big edge over Ken Crawley and Kevin Peterson.
Safeties (4): Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson, Deionte Thompson, Chris Banjo
Deionte Thompson added more muscle to his frame as he is hoping for an expanded role on the defense. Chris Banjo is entering his eighth season in the NFL and has been a quality special teams player throughout his career. Charles Washington loses the battle against Banjo.
Specialists (3): Zane Gonzalez, Andy Lee, Aaron Brewer
This unit has been set and stone for a while now. Punter Ryan Winslow could end up being Andy Lee’s replacement next season and should be stashed on the practice squad.