With preseason game one in the books, let’s look at the first guess at the team’s final 53 man roster.
With there being no more 75-man cutdown day versus a cut to the final 53 on one day, there’s no need to project the first cut.
And there will be quite a few interesting cuts this year given the amount of youth on the roster and the new coaching roster.
Colt McCoy, Clayton Tune (PUP: Kyler Murray)
I have Murray on the PUP but if he isn’t to begin the season, then there’d be likely 3 quarterbacks carried.
I could see a possible roster spot for David Blough given Colt’s injury history and how he’s shown to be a decent backup but this is where it’ll be interesting. Driskel has experience as well and Arizona could just roll with the two players if Murray’s return will be in Week 6 or 7.
There’s enough QB’s who’ve learned the system that if the Cardinals DO only go with two quarterbacks and run into the unfortunate nature of losing both that one of the two could be available and re-signed (assuming not eligible for the practice squad)
Running Back: 4
James Conner, Keaontay Ingram, Corey Clement, Ty’Son Williams
Pending Clement’s status (he left due to injury) this is a place where I think that there’s a chance of another veteran running back making this roster over one of Keaontay or Ty’son.
Clement’s special teams and use as a fullback seems to make him a lock, and Arizona was looking at Marlon Mack before he got hurt as a vet RB.
Wide Receiver: 5
Hollywood Brown, Rondale Moore, Zach Pascal, Greg Dortch, Michael Wilson
Gone is Kliff, gone are the days of 6 receivers although Daniel Arias (or Daion Davis given his return ability) might be someone who pushes for a spot.
Good news is that Greg Dortch shouldn’t be in much danger of being on the bubble this year with a strong camp.
Offensive Line: 10
OT: DJ Humphries, Josh Jones, Kelvin Beachum, Paris Johnson, iOL: Will Hernandez, Elijah Wilkinson, Dennis Dailey, Jon Gaines II, Pat Elflein, Hjalte Froholdt
The ones on the roster bubble here, surprisingly, might be Josh Jones and the new addition of Elflein.
Jones only because Beachum’s contract is fully guaranteed for the year already, but an interesting question would be if there’s a need for one or two swing tackles for any other team and Arizona might turn a wealth of talent there into a possible late trade for a draft pick.
That said—more depth is better than a lack of one and should either starter go down. Paris Johnson seems to have the RT spot locked up.
Tight End: 3
Trey McBride, Geoff Swaim, Blake Whiteheart (PUP: Zach Ertz)
This one was tricky. I could see four tight ends more likely than three, especially with how the Cardinals will run more 12 personnel this year overall, and with Zach Ertz an unknown, I could see Noah Togiai and Blake Whiteheart both the team.
In this spot, I looked at the other players and felt there was a better strategy in adding more overall talent to the roster versus trying to fill a set amount of positions.
Defensive End: 3
LJ Collier, Eric Banks, Dante Stills
Arizona has some defenders on the defensive line who can rotate playing inside or outside, with Dante Stills being one of those players. Their pass rushers will be at the OLB spot but I could see a guy like Cameron Thomas be able to drop into a DE role if needed for a spell.
Nose Tackle: 2
Leki Fotu, Rashard Lawrence
With the roster constructed this way, Kevin Strong wasn’t on the final roster, and I decided to have three defensive ends over just two. Fotu and Lawrence are in contract years and one possibility is that Lawrence (who is talented but has battled injuries) ends up off the roster for Strong to make it instead.
Defensive Tackle: 2
Jonathan Ledbetter, Carlos Watkins
Dante Stills could get work here as well as previously mentioned, and I think this Cardinals coaching staff will give the young players and draft picks some run over veterans in a no-pressure year.
Outside Linebacker: 5
Zaven Collins, Cameron Thomas, Dennis Gardeck, BJ Ojulari, Myjai Sanders
Jesse Luketa didn’t make the roster in this projection but he’s practice squad eliigible and if it’s a choice between him and another safety, I went with the safety.
If only because they might need a depth player given the importance of Jalen Thompson manning the slot and Isaiah Simmons’ new role as at free safety.
Inside Linebacker: 5
Kyzir White, Krys Barnes, Josh Woods, Ezekiel Turner, Owen Pappoe
I felt better about keeping some of the players I did on this roster by aiming to keep quality special teamers versus pure roster spot filling.
That’s why Turner, Pappoe made the team and I felt it would be better to keep Woods for both as a depth LB player and special teamer.
Marco Wilson, Antonio Hamilton, Christian Matthew, Kei’Trel Clark, Kris Boyd (PUP-Garrett Williams)
I kept Boyd as a special teams player but between him and Fenton, I think Clark’s done enough to stick as a nickel despite being a 6th round pick.
Williams is a wild card here as we aren’t sure where or when he’ll return as he’s a player who hasn’t gotten any run in camp and is on the non-football injury list, and it’ll be interesting to see if he redshirts for a season or not.
Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson, Isaiah Simmons, Andre Chachere
Normally I’d say that there’s 3 players worthy of the roster here. So why Chachere?
Looking at the roster, you could argue that with Jalen Thompson playing nickel, he has a backup and in case of a Baker/Simmons injury the other could rotate in. But I think that all 3 will see the field enough that you won’t want to have to change your entire defense around.
Alternatively, if Budda/Jalen/Isaiah do miss time, you could probably keep three safeties and get by with Clark or Hamilton rotating in at the nickel and the other safety moving into Free or Strong Safety depending on the nature of the injury.
I went with Chachare in the end so that the team won’t lose too much in their 3 safety sets.
Special Teams (Punter, Kicker, Long Snapper, Kick Returner):
Punter Matt Haack, Kicker Matt Prater, Long Snapper Aaron Brewer
Haack and Nolan Cooney have been in a punting battle and I went with the veteran because of a weird reason. Holding.
Andy Lee has been the longtime holder for Prater the last few years and when he’s missed time, Prater’s missed a few field goals.
No clue if the veteran Haack will be any better at that than the younger Cooney but I’ll bank on that winning out.
Greg Dortch seems set to be the team’s kick returner, but if there’s an outside shot of an Davion Davis or even a Emari Demarcado making the roster, it’d have to be as a 6th wideout or 5th running back that specializes as a kick returner.
Agree or Disagree?
Sound off in the comments!