A prediction of the Arizona Cardinals’ initial 53-man roster
For the Arizona Cardinals, having the first waiver wire claim means they’ll be aggressive in turning over their roster once the list of NFL-wide cuts hit general manager Steve Keim’s desk.
There will be players that can provide much-needed upgrades and perhaps even a few surprise names that force the Cardinals to make some unexpected cuts from their current roster after the initial tapering to 53 players that is required Saturday by 1 p.m. Arizona time.
Before that happens, here’s an educated guess as to how Arizona’s initial 53-man roster could look following the team’s fourth and final preseason game of 2019, a 20-7 loss against the Denver Broncos.
This list could be very dated by Saturday afternoon — even sooner. But might as well give it a shot.
Kyler Murray, Brett Hundley
While Murray will have his hurdles, he’s the No. 1 quarterback. Hundley looked strong all preseason, and the real question is whether second-year pro Charles Kanoff or rookie Drew Anderson are practice squad options. The latter, a Murray State product, is the better athlete with a better arm who got the second shot at running the office against the Broncos.
Running back (3)
David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, T.J. Logan
The Cardinals should feel comfortable going three deep here. Johnson and Edmonds carry good chunk of the load, and Logan has flashed as a capable third option, plus brings return chops to the table. The feeling here is D.J. Foster, coming off an ACL injury, didn’t show enough during camp. He, undrafted Syracuse product Dontae Strickland and Wes Hills are practice squad candidates.
Wide Receiver (7)
Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Michael Crabtree, Damiere Byrd, KeeSean Johnson, Trent Sherfield, Andy Isabella
The seven wideouts listed above each bring something different to the table — experience and youth, speed and route-running, physicality and deception. The tough cut is Pharoh Cooper, who as a Pro Bowl punt return man never did anything wrong but just looked like he was on the outside looking in. Everything in training camp indicated Byrd looked like a key piece, and the speedy wideout sitting out on Thursday at Denver only confirmed it.
Tight end (4)
Charles Clay, Maxx Williams, Ricky Seals-Jones, Caleb Wilson
It’s a murky tight end room considering Charles Clay has hardly played throughout training camp and the preseason. That said, Kingsbury intimated that his resume and spring practice performances gave Arizona enough confidence that he can contribute.
Seals-Jones continues to find his footing, and because there’s room, Arizona gets to develop Wilson. Both Seals-Jones and Wilson fumbling Thursday was not good news for either.
Offensive line (10)
D.J. Humphries, Justin Pugh, A.Q. Shipley, J.R. Sweezy, Marcus Gilbert, Mason Cole, Lamont Gaillard, Rees Odhiambo, Josh Miles, Jeremy Vujnovich
The first guy out could be Jeremy Vujnovich, a versatile guard who started two games last year. Arizona has given seventh-round pick and project rookie Miles a lot of action lately, and the trade of Korey Cunningham allows them to keep Odhiambo as a swing tackle while developing the rookie. Odhiambo sat out against the Broncos, possibly a sign they are prioritizing his health while wanting to get Miles more experience before the regular season starts.
Defensive line (7)
Corey Peters, Rodney Gunter, Zach Allen, Clinton McDonald, Michael Dogbe, Miles Brown, Bruce Hector
There’s a ton of youth behind the starters with Brown and Hector the likely players at risk of losing roster spots come cut time. Dogbe has looked good against backups throughout the preseason, and Arizona coaches have loved his work ethic.
Outside linebacker (4)
Chandler Jones, Terrell Suggs, Pete Robertson, Brooks Reed
Robertson’s strong preseason pays off with a roster spot, and Reed has come on strong lately as well. He’s got lots of NFL experience but dings kept him out of the limelight until he came on in the third preseason game with a sack and forced fumble.
Inside linebacker (5)
Jordan Hicks, Haason Reddick, Joe Walker, Dennis Gardeck, Zeke Turner
Gardeck got a lot of praise in the offseason but didn’t look like an everyday player in preseason games. He and Zeke Turner are still upside players that have specials teams pop. Walker came off an injury and played well alongside Hicks against the Vikings on Saturday, putting him right in the mix. Walker sitting out Thursday likely said that he is currently the starter in Week 1 if Haason Reddick (knee) can’t play alongside middle linebacker Jordan Hicks.
D.J. Swearinger, Budda Baker, Deionte Thompson, Jalen Thompson
The starters in Swearinger and Baker are solid as can be, but there is zero NFL experience after that with veteran Josh Shaw ending up on the IR just before the final week of the preseason. The Thompsons each flashed throughout camp, but relying on two rookies makes the depth a question mark. It appeared the Cardinals really liked Tyler Sigler, a Wheaton College product who got lots of reps in camp, but he is the first player out.
Tramaine Brock Sr., Byron Murphy, Chris Jones, Deatrick Nichols
Another spot where Arizona could use some immediate contributions, only one of the above players has any extended NFL experience. Murphy, a rookie second-round pick, and Jones, who didn’t earn corner reps last season, are joined by Deatrick Nichols, who has worked at corner and in the slot. This position looks likely to be impacted by the waiver wire.
Special teams (3)
Zane Gonzalez, Andy Lee, Aaron Brewer
Pretty easy here. Gonzalez had a strong preseason at kicker, Lee was trustworthy punting last season and Brewer’s name has remained unmentioned, a good sign for a long-snapper.Array