Arizona Cardinals’ 53-man roster prediction ahead of final cuts
The Arizona Cardinals have until next Tuesday to whittle their roster down from 80 players to 53.
Tough choices will have to be made and aspirations of making an NFL roster will certainly take a hit for some.
Before Arizona starts making their final cuts, here’s a prediction of what the roster could look like when the 1 p.m. MST deadline rolls around on Tuesday:
Arizona Cardinals 53-man roster prediction
– Kyler Murray
– Colt McCoy
– Trace McSorley
McSorley was on the fence of making the roster given other areas of need at other positions. Luckily for the quarterback, head coach Kliff Kingsbury has an affinity for signal callers.
“All pros,” Kingsbury said when asked about the pros and cons of keeping three signal callers on Tuesday. “I’m a former quarterback. I think that should be a rule in this league (for every team to carry three QBs).”
Running back (4)
– James Conner
– Eno Benjamin
– Jonathan Ward
– Keaontay Ingram
Hey, look! It didn’t take long to run into our first complicated position group on the roster.
Kingsbury has kept no more than four running backs on the 53-man roster over the past three seasons. That trend likely continues once again in Year 4 with Darrel Williams the odd man out.
Not only has Benjamin taken a noticeable step forward and is very much in the running for the team’s No. 2 role behind Conner, the ASU alum, Ward and Ingram have all gotten their fair share of special teams reps throughout the offseason.
Williams, who hasn’t stood out since his arrival and saw just one carry for three yards against Baltimore, has not been utilized as a special teamer. That factor could give a guy like Ingram a leg up on his competition.
“All those guys have had really good camps, whether it’s Darrel, Ward, Keaontay, Eno — obviously we’ve talked about him,” Kingsbury said last Thursday. “Excited to see how it shakes out the next couple weeks and there’ll be some tough decisions to make.”
Wide receiver (6)
– Hollywood Brown
– Rondale Moore
– A.J. Green
– Antoine Wesley
– Greg Dortch
– Andy Isabella
You’re probably asking yourself: where is DeAndre Hopkins?
With Hopkins suspended for the first six games of the season, the wideout does not count on the active roster until his return in Week 7.
Hollywood Brown, Rondale Moore and A.J. Green are locks to make the roster. As is Wesley, although the wideout has been dealing with a groin/hip injury that has kept him sidelined for nearly three weeks. While Kingsbury last Wednesday said the team was feeling better and better in terms of the injury, Arizona had not yet ruled out surgery.
Rounding out the WR room are a couple of training camp standouts in Greg Dortch and Andy Isabella.
Dortch was an almost daily highlight reel across camp, while Isabella has remained locked in and effective despite reportedly being given permission to seek a trade this offseason.
“I tell everybody about Dortch,” Green told reporters Wednesday. “His feel for the game, his hands, his mentality every day is unmatched. Every day you’re going to get 100% out of that guy. … You put a first-rounder in front of him, we know what’s going to happen. He’s going to eat him up. That’s his mentality.”
On the outside looking in is Victor Bolden Jr., who flashed at times and was likely the seventh WR out of the group. If for some reason Wesley has to miss time to start the season, look for the ex-USFLer to crack the roster.
Tight end (3)
– Zach Ertz
– Maxx Williams
– Trey McBride
Arizona’s tight end room is easily on one of the strongest positions on the roster top to bottom. That hasn’t been said in Kingsbury’s tenure in Arizona.
After an impressive half-season from Ertz, the tight end now has a full offseason in the desert. Williams is ahead of schedule in his return from a season-ending knee injury and brings blocking prowess. Despite a very small sample size, 2022 second-round pick McBride has shown he has the intangibles of being an NFL tight end in both pass catching and blocking.
Offensive line (9)
– LT D.J. Humphries
– LG Justin Pugh
– C Rodney Hudson
– RG Will Hernandez
– RT Kelvin Beachum
– G Cody Ford
– T Josh Jones
– T Josh Miles
– C/G Sean Harlow
There has been no shortage of injuries this offseason for Arizona’s OL room. Keeping an extra body in the trenches seems likely, especially after the Cardinals swung a trade for former Buffalo Bill Cody Ford due to injuries piling up.
Jones has turned heads after getting reverted back to tackle following an underwhelming season at right guard. Run game coordinator and offensive line coach Sean Kugler went as far as to say Jones was a future starter at tackle given his output this camp.
Harlow has been another name that has been praised this offseason as the team’s No. 2 option at center. Harlow also has the versatility to move over to guard if need be.
A notable lineman left off the roster is Justin Murray, who was in the running for the starting right guard spot last season but has struggled to stay healthy. The guard/tackle dealt with back issues that ended his season after just three games (one start) in 2021. Then after returning from the injury this offseason, Murray suffered an ankle injury in training camp.
Look for Murray and rookies Lecitus Smith and Marquis Hayes to land back on the team’s practice squad if they aren’t nabbed by other teams after cuts.
Defensive line (5)
– DE J.J. Watt
– DE Zach Allen
– DT Rashard Lawrence
– DT Leki Fotu
– DE Michael Dogbe
With outside linebackers platooning as pass-rushers, Arizona’s defensive line will lean on five players with plenty of experience in Vance Joseph’s system
Watt, Allen and Lawrence figure to be the team’s starting interior defensive linemen, with Fotu and Dogbe providing depth.
If for some reason Watt is still on the shelf with COVID-19 come cutdown day, look for Jonathan Ledbetter or Christian Ringo to take over his roster spot until he returns.
Rookie Manny Jones, who had a solid preseason outing against the Bengals with five tackles, is a candidate for the practice squad.
Outside linebacker (6)
– Markus Golden
– Myjai Sanders
– Dennis Gardeck
– Cameron Thomas
– Devon Kennard
– Victor Dimukeje
Taking the pass-rusher-by-committee approach, the Cardinals have options opposite Golden.
Gardeck and Kennard bring a veteran presence, while rookies Thomas and Sanders have made their presence known this offseason.
Dimukeje has been one of the biggest bright spots in the room given his NFL progression from Year 1 to Year 2. He’s done more than enough to earn a spot.
Inside linebacker (5)
– Nick Vigil
– Zaven Collins
– Isaiah Simmons
– Tanner Vallejo
– Ezekiel Turner
Vigil and Collins figure to handle MIKE backer duties this season, with Simmons moving all over the field in the star backer role.
Vallejo and Turner will be utilized on special teams and as depth pieces.
– Byron Murphy Jr.
– Antonio Hamilton
– Marco Wilson
– Josh Jackson
– Christian Matthew
Arizona’s cornerbacks room remains thin, making the candidates to crack the roster pretty clear.
And after questions surrounded small-school rookie Matthew, the cornerback has turned heads in each of the team’s preseason matchups and over the course of training camp.
– Budda Baker
– Jalen Thompson
– Deionte Thompson
– Charles Washington
Baker and Jalen Thompson make up one of the league’s strongest safety duos. Also included in the safety room is star backer Simmons, who has worked with the unit all offseason and will used in the secondary and at linebacker.
Special teams (3)
– K Matt Prater
– P Andy Lee
– LS Aaron Brewer
The Cardinals keep their special teams continuity intact behind the trio of Prater, Lee and Brewer.