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Arizona Cardinals’ initial 53-man roster prediction

Final cuts must be made by 4 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday

Arizona Cardinals v Minnesota Vikings Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

All 32 teams across the NFL must trim their rosters down to 53-players today at the 4 p.m. ET deadline.

Taking a look at the Arizona Cardinals, they have already begun trickling their roster down to size with the release of 12-year veteran quarterback Colt McCoy, who received majority of first-team reps throughout training camp.

Yesterday, they also released cornerback Nate Hairston, placed center Pat Elflein on injured reserve, and waived wide receiver Brandon Smith, safety Kendell Brooks, and safety Sean Chandler.

As it stands, the Cardinals still have 83 players on their roster with many more releases to be announced as the day progresses today.

Here is my early morning Arizona Cardinals’ initial 53-man roster prediction:

Quarterback (3): Clayton Tune, Joshua Dobbs, David Blough, Kyler Murray* (PUP)

Cuts: Colt McCoy*, Jeff Driskel

Kyler Murray will miss at least the first four weeks of the season as he remains on the PUP list. With that considered and with Colt McCoy’s release, Cardinals are likely to roll with three quarterbacks on their roster. They traded a fifth-round pick for Josh Dobbs last week and drafted Clayton Tune with a fifth-round pick in April. Blough has shown enough in the preseason to warrant a backup spot. Who will start?

Running Back (3): James Conner, Keaontay Ingram, Corey Clement

Cuts: Emari Demercado, Ty’Son Williams, Stevie Scott

James Conner is the unquestioned No. 1 running back. Both Keaontay Ingram and Corey Clement impressed during the preseason as they remained the No. 2 and No. 3 running backs on the depth chart respectively. Rookie Emari Demercado is likely a practice squad stash. Ty’Son Williams has fallen out of the preseason rotation despite a good showing against the Broncos. Arizona rolls with three running backs for now.

Wide Receiver (6): Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore, Zach Pascal, Michael Wilson, Greg Dortch, Davion Davis

Cuts: Brandon Smith*, Daniel Arias, Andre Baccellia, Brian Cobbs, Kaden Davis

The Cardinals are already locked in with their top five wide receivers. Arizona will probably roll with six receivers heading into the season. Though Arias, Baccellia, and Kaden Davis made some plays this preseason, I believe Davion Davis made a stronger case for the initial 53 after his eye-catching touchdown grab last Saturday. He also had a 20-yard punt return in the preseason finale.

Tight End (4): Zach Ertz, Trey McBride, Geoff Swaim, Blake Whiteheart

Cuts: Joel Honigford, Bernhard Seikovits, Noah Togiai

Ertz and McBride are the unquestioned top tight ends. Geoff Swaim has primarily been used as a blocking tight end and brings much needed experience to a rather inexperienced football team. Blake Whiteheart has stood out as an undrafted free agent, especially as Clayton Tune’s go-to target in the preseason. Cardinals keep four as Whiteheart possibly beats out Noah Togiai for a roster spot?

Offensive Line (9): D.J. Humphries, Elijah Wilkinson, Hjalte Froholdt, Will Hernandez, Paris Johnson Jr, Kelvin Beachum, Marquis Hayes, Dennis Daley, Jon Gaines II

Cuts: Jackson Barton, Cohl Cobral, Hayden Howerton, Braylon Jones, Lecitus Smith, Badara Traore

Cardinals had their starting offensive line already determined probably since OTAs. Kelvin Beachum will be Arizona’s swing tackle after the trading of Josh Jones to Houston. Hayes has progressed well with each preseason game. The two players to monitor are Dennis Daley and Jon Gaines II as both were injured in the preseason finale. How severe their injuries are will affect the 53-man roster. Jackson Barton was serviceable during the preseason which makes him a possible practice squad candidate if not the 53-man roster.

Defensive Line (6): L.J. Collier, Leki Fotu, Jonathan Ledbetter, Carlos Watkins, Kevin Strong, Dante Stills

Cuts: Rashard Lawrence, Eric Banks, Ben Stille

L.J. Collier has been the Cardinals’ most impressive defensive lineman this preseason. Leki Fotu and Jonathan Ledbetter has been treated as starters. Watkins is the most experienced player of the group and Strong has served as the primary backup nose tackle to Fotu. Even then, neither of their spots are safe. The only real surprise here is Rashard Lawrence, the Cardinals’ 2020 fourth-round pick that has struggled to stay healthy. Lawrence has played against second and third-string units this preseason but has been ineffective.

Outside Linebacker (6): Dennis Gardeck, Zaven Collins, Cam Thomas, Jesse Luketa, BJ Ojulari, Myjai Sanders

Cuts: David Anenih, Victor Dimukeje, Zach McCloud

Jesse Luketa’s ability to play linebacker, fullback, and special teams makes him a versatile young asset to the roster. His play alone should beat out Cardinals’ 2021 sixth-round pick Victor Dimukeje for a roster spot. Myjai Sanders has struggled to stay healthy this offseason but he makes the 53-man roster for now as last year’s third-round pick. After Zach McCloud’s three-sack performance in the preseason finale despite being with the team for less than a week, expect the Cardinals to try to stash him on the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Inside Linebacker (5): Kyzir White, Josh Woods, Krys Barnes, Owen Pappoe, Ezekiel Turner

Cuts: Kyle Soelle

Either Josh Woods or Krys Barnes will start opposite Kyzir White this season. Ezekiel Turner and rookie fifth-round pick Owen Pappoe should make the team due to their special teams value. Both are athletic linebackers to keep. The odd man out here is Kyle Soelle.

Cornerback (4): Marco Wilson, Kei’Trel Clark, Antonio Hamilton, Kris Boyd

Cuts: Nate Hairston*, Christian Matthew, Kyler McMichael, Bobby Price, Quavian White

The Cardinals’ cornerback depth is very thin. Having already seen preseason standouts like Lions’ Chase Lucas and Bears’ Michael Ojemudia get waived, it would not be surprising to see Arizona release Christian Matthew as he has struggled throughout training camp and the preseason. Kris Boyd has been one of the better special teamers the last few years and so he should make the 53.

Safety (4): Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson, Jovante Moffatt, Andre Chachere

Cuts: Kendell Brooks*, Sean Chandler*, Juju Hughes

Behind Baker and Thompson, the Cardinals are still in need of an upgrade at the backup safety position after trading Isaiah Simmons. Moffatt has special teams value so he might stick. Chachere has struggled throughout the preseason but makes the initial 53-man roster due to his experience with Jonathan Gannon and Nick Rallis in Philadelphia.

Special team (3): K Matt Prater, P Nolan Cooney, LS Aaron Brewer

The Cardinals brought in a few long snappers during the offseason but ultimately went back to Aaron Brewer, who enters his eighth season with Arizona. Nolan Cooney’s 47.1 net punting yards was the best among all punters in the preseason. He won the punting job after the release of Matt Haack last week. Matt Prater has received no competition at the kicking position. There are no surprises here.