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Cardinals’ receiving corps ranks mid-level in NFL, according to PFF

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) celebrate his two point conversion catch with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

There are still plenty of questions about the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive weaponry after they made DeAndre Hopkins their clear No. 1 receiving option with an offseason trade.

Pro Football Focus ranked Arizona’s receiver group as the 12th-best in the NFL, and that had to do with what comes after Hopkins.

Even with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk bringing steadiness, it’s not enough to bump the Cardinals into a top-tier.

Hopkins is the third-highest-graded wide receiver in the NFL over the past five seasons, and he boasts one of the most reliable pairs of hands in the NFL with a drop rate of just 3.7% over that same stretch (sixth among qualifying wide receivers). One of the names above him in drop rate is his new teammate Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald doesn’t provide a whole lot of burst at this stage of his career, but he’s still a reliable target out of the slot in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. With Christian Kirk, Kenyan Drake out of the backfield and hopefully the emergence of a young speedster like Andy Isabella, the Cardinals’ passing offense is in good shape to continue its upward trend.

Fitzgerald led Arizona with 804 receiving yards over 16 games last year, but he would have been eclipsed as the top wideout in targets and receptions had Kirk not missed three games.

The production from Fitzgerald, who turns 37 in April, is statistically on a slow decline. Kirk has been banged up over his first two years but flashed last year the ability to take a major leap forward.

After that, the Cardinals don’t have reliable depth at the moment.

KeeSean Johnson, a 2019 sixth-round pick, excelled during training camp but lost playing time to offseason departures Pharoh Cooper and Damiere Byrd as the season went on.

Last year’s second-round draft choice, Isabella, was used in specific packages and only saw 13 targets. Eighty-eight of his 189 receiving yards came on one play, which showed his pure speed that Arizona hopes can translate to a big second season.

Trent Sherfield, a special teams ace, and second-year pro Hakeem Butler must earn their way into Kingsbury’s usual deep rotation of receivers. At tight end, Dan Arnold was a red zone favorite of quarterback Kyler Murray’s late in the year, and his continued development could become a factor for Arizona.

By all accounts, the Cardinals’ actions this offseason — they did not draft a receiver — show they believe in the young players and the receiving group as a whole.

Until Kirk can be a more consistent, available No. 2 option and until a fourth receiver can separate himself from the group, Arizona’s passing-game options will be only considered average.

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