CARDINALS CORNER

Cardinals questions post-NFL Draft: Who takes over at RB2 behind James Conner?

May 7, 2024, 4:15 PM | Updated: 4:22 pm

The Arizona Cardinals replenished their roster and upgraded multiple positions with an addition of 12 NFL Draft picks.

With arguably the biggest piece of Arizona’s offseason now behind it, the attention turns to the depth chart and how the Cardinals’ roster will shake out.

While there’s still plenty of time before the pads come on, there’s no shortage of question marks surrounding Arizona ahead of Year 2 under head coach Jonathan Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort.

After looking at the wide receivers and offensive line rooms, it’s time to take a peek at the pecking order behind starter James Conner.

Who takes over at RB2 behind James Conner

Ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft, this question seemed all but answered.

Behind unquestioned starter James Conner, all signs pointed to Michael Carter as the frontrunner at RB2.

Joining the room as a midseason waiver claim following two seasons of at least 400 yards and three touchdowns with the New York Jets, the young running back has proven he can be a complementary piece at the NFL level.

But while Carter is still very much in the mix at the position, there’s now another name to keep tabs on in rookie runner Trey Benson out of Florida State.

The No. 66 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, Benson is coming off 906 yards and 14 touchdowns on 156 carries in his final season at FSU (13 games played). It marked the second straight season the running back accumulated at least 900 yards and nine scores.

He was also used sparingly as a pass catcher, reeling in 33 catches for 371 yards and a touchdown.

In quite a few NFL circles, he was tabbed as the top running back prospect in the 2024 draft class.

“I think Trey fits us from a schematic standpoint in that he’s instinctive, he’s tough, he’s physical, he’s got good contact balance, he’s able to run through and gain tough yards,” Ossenfort said on the Dave Pasch Podcast on Monday.

“And then one thing that stands out about Trey is that when he does have a crease, he has the speed to break it and pop the long run — something that you don’t often see in running backs that are his size. So, I think he complements James very well.”

Carter might bring the experience, but the Cardinals clearly see the potential Benson can have in this run-heavy offense.

This is easily one of the top battles to watch when training camp rolls around.

Other running backs to watch

Emari Demercado marks the potential dark horse in this discussion.

Posting the second-best rushing marks behind Conner in terms of carries and yards, the undrafted rookie flashed as he ran the rock 58 times for 284 yards and two touchdowns. He added another 119 yards on 21 catches.

From there, the dropoff is real, with Dallas DeeJay being viewed more as a special teams piece and Tony Jones figuring to be a depth piece or practice squad member.

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