PFF: Arizona Cardinals have some of NFL’s worst pass-catching groups
Apr 19, 2018, 7:21 AM
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
The Arizona Cardinals had a couple of major holes to fill this offseason in head coach and quarterback.
They’ve done so, bringing in Steve Wilks and Sam Bradford, but other notable positions of weakness remain as the NFL Draft approaches.
A pair of those positions, in fact, have to do with running routes and then catching balls thrown by Bradford.
For ESPN, Pro Football Focus named the worst position groups in the NFL, and while the Cardinals were not outright named the worst of any group, they were runner-ups for wide receiver and tight end.
Yes, despite having Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals are on the list at wideout.
Adding some youth behind Larry Fitzgerald could be key for a Cardinals team potentially in the market for a rookie quarterback. Oklahoma State’s Marcell Ateman would be a a good midround option.
Arizona was already weak at the position in 2017, and lost Jaron Brown and John Brown in free agency. The Cardinals did sign Brice Butler, but the former Dallas Cowboy has a career-high of 21 receptions over one season, and that was in 2014 with the Oakland Raiders.
Prior to the NFL Draft, it looks like last year’s third-round pick, Chad Williams, could play an important role as well, but he produced only three catches for 31 yards last season.
J.J. Nelson, who was second in receiving yards (508) behind Fitzgerald’s 1,156, is also expected to be leaned upon more in 2018. His consistency catching the ball hurt his production a year ago.
Arizona also needs to improve at tight end, according to PFF.
The Cardinals will have to address this position to suit Sam Bradford’s needs as a passer if they don’t draft (and play) a rookie. Last year’s starter, Jermaine Gresham, was 37th among qualifying tight ends in yards per route run (1.04), and no other player on the depth chart saw more than 150 snaps.
Gresham tore his Achilles at the tail end of last season, and his recovery timeline puts his presence in doubt.
A player PFF doesn’t mention who figures to help give Bradford someone to throw to is second-year pro Ricky Seals-Jones.
The undrafted rookie and converted wide receiver was a bright spot at the end of the season. Over a five-game span in which Seals-Jones had 25 targets, he caught 12 balls for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
Throw in running back David Johnson as a receiving threat to consider, and maybe Bradford has something to work with. But until the season gets underway, questions will persist about the depth at receiver and tight end.