PFF: Tight end shaping up to be biggest position battle for Arizona Cardinals
While the Arizona Cardinals and the other 31 teams in the National Football League prepare for the 2022 season with training camp a month away, some big position battles are set to take place.
The Cardinals will be no stranger to that heading into training camp expected to have healthy competition at a handful of positions.
Arizona should have spirited battles during training camp at right guard, cornerback and edge rusher opposite of Markus Golden.
However, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus thinks the biggest position battle for the Cardinals will be at tight end.
Tight end could be one of the Cardinals’ deeper positions, led by veteran Zach Ertz, who Arizona traded for in the middle of last season and re-signed this offseason.
Ertz quickly became one of quarterback Kyler Murray’s most reliable targets, catching 56 passes for 574 yards a year ago. With star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins set to miss the first six games of next season after testing positive for PEDs, Ertz should play a critical role in the Cardinals’ offense.
After him on the depth chart is where the true battle is, with veteran tight end Maxx Williams and rookie Trey McBride competing for the No. 2 role.
Also re-signing in the offseason, Williams is back for another year in Arizona after suffering a torn ACL in Week 5 of last season. He had 16 receptions for 123 yards and one touchdown.
McBride, who the Cardinals drafted No. 55 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, could be the wildcard of the group after showing flashes as a productive playmaker during his collegiate career at Colorado State.
The waters were muddied more when the Cardinals selected the top tight end in the draft, McBride. The Colorado State product’s PFF grade improved each of the last two seasons, culminating a 95.0 receiving grade that saw him gain 2.78 yards per route run and over a third of the team’s receiving yards. McBride is a big time potential playmaker, but has two other quality tight ends to brush aside for playing time.
While McBride’s work may be cut out for him to jump the veterans on the depth chart, the rookie plans to use the other tight ends in the room as a resource.
“He’s a tight end who’s played in this league for a long time, and most of all he’s been around and knows how to do it the right way,” McBride said of Ertz during Cardinals rookie minicamp in May.
Regardless of how the battle plays out, Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury has three different options to turn to at tight end, which could develop a completely new wrinkle in Arizona’s offense.