The Arizona Cardinals had arguably the best offseason in the NFL, adding to the hype the franchise looks to finally be out of the doldrums of the NFC West and ready to compete for a winning record -- along with a playoff spot in 2020.
Arizona had the move of the offseason, acquiring All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and got out of the albatross known as David Johnson's contract in the process (thank the Houston Texans for the heist). The Cardinals also shored up their defense, stabilizing their linebacker group with the additions of Devon Kennard and De'Vondre Campbell while also aiding their pass rush with the signing of Jordan Phillips and Trevon Coley on the defensive line. Even with the limited picks in the first three rounds, the Cardinals added one of the draft's best talents in Isaiah Simmons at No. 8 overall and shored up the offensive line with Josh Jones in the third round.
The Cardinals' roster has immensely improved this offseason, giving Kyler Murray all the offensive playmakers he needs this offseason to succeed. In addition to Hopkins, Arizona has Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk at wide receiver and Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds at running back. This has the makings of one of the best offensive units in the NFL if Murray stays healthy.
If anything, the Cardinals are going to be one of the most exciting teams in the league this season, regardless of their record. So how will they line up on both sides of the ball? Can they compete with the top of the NFC West, arguably the best division in football?
For the purpose of this depth chart projection, we will be projecting up to the top- four at any given position. The Cardinals, like all 32 teams, have a bloated roster at the moment that is nearing the triple-digit mark but come September, that number will drop significantly when the coaches settle in on the 53-man roster.
Rookies will be denoted with a (*).
Here's how the Cardinals depth chart looks heading into the summer:
|QB||Kyler Murray||Brett Hundley||Drew Anderson||Chris Streveler|
|RB||Kenyan Drake||Chase Edmonds||Eno Benjamin*||D.J. Foster|
|LWR||DeAndre Hopkins ||Andy Isabella||A.J. Richardson||Shane Leatherbury*|
|RWR||Christian Kirk||Trent Sherfield||Hakeem Butler||Devin Phelps*|
|SWR||Larry Fitzgerald||KeeSean Johnson||Johnnie Dixon||JoJo Ward*|
|TE||Maxx Williams||Darrell Daniels||Dan Arnold||Dylan Cantrell|
|LT||D.J. Humphries||Joshua Miles||Brett Toth||Jackson Dennis*|
|LG||Justin Pugh||Sam Jones||Steven Gonzalez*|| |
|C||Mason Cole||Lamont Gaillard|| || |
|RG||J.R. Sweezy||Max Garcia||Andrew Dickinson*|| |
|RT||Marcus Gilbert||Josh Jones*||Justin Murray||Jake Benzinger*|
The Cardinals' set of skill players is arguably one of the best in the NFL, aided by the growth of Murray and the evolution of Kliff Kingsbury's system. There isn't much competition at quarterback as Murray is the franchise signal caller and Hundley is the No. 2, although there's a case to be made for Arizona to improve there. Drake has the transition tag attached to him, so he's the unquestioned feature back after averaging over five yards per carry in his eight games with the Cardinals last season. Edmonds is excellent insurance as the No. 2 and Benjamin should make an impact in the offense as a No. 3, but he'll have to beat out Foster for the job.
The top three wide receivers are set, as Hopkins can play the X while Fitzgerald can play the slot. The beauty of Kingsbury's offense is all three of the top wideouts can interchange positions. So who's going to be the No. 4? Isabella is the clear front-runner, but Butler (a 2019 fourth-round pick) is a year removed from a hand injury that forced his rookie year to be a redshirt campaign. Johnson is in the mix for a roster spot as well after contributing in the slot as an undrafted rookie last season.
Offensive line is the biggest weakness for the Cardinals on this side of the ball, but they've improved the unit. The Cardinals likely aren't bringing back A.Q. Shipley, giving Cole back his starting job at center (where he started all 16 games his rookie year in 2018). Humphries and Pugh are locked on the left side, as both players are paid handsomely with multi-year deals. Sweezy is also a veteran starting guard that played well for Arizona last year, so his job is also safe. The battle will be between Gilbert and Jones for the right tackle spot, but Gilbert gets the edge since the virtual offseason has likely slowed down the rookie's learning curve. Arizona has depth at tackle with Jones and Murray to start the year, a much better situation than a year ago.
|LDE||Zach Allen||Michael Dogbe||Rashard Lawrence*||T.J. Carter*|
|NT||Jordan Phillips||Leki Fotu*||Miles Brown|
|RDE||Corey Peters||Jonathan Bullard||Trevon Coley||Adam Shuler*|
|OLB||Chandler Jones||Kylie Fitts||Vontarrius Dora|
|ILB||Jordan Hicks ||De'Vondre Campbell ||Tanner Vallejo||Evan Weaver*|
|ILB||Isaiah Simmons* ||Dennis Gardeck||Ezekiel Turner|
|OLB||Devon Kennard ||Haason Reddick |
|LCB||Patrick Peterson||Chris Jones ||Duke Thomas||Zane Lewis*|
|RCB||Robert Alford ||Kevin Peterson||Jace Whittaker*||Bejour Wilson*|
|SCB||Byron Murphy ||Jalen Davis ||Jarren Williams*|
|FS||Budda Baker||Chris Banjo||Charles Washington |
|SS||Jalen Thompson||Deionte Thompson ||Reggie Floyd*|
Arizona completely revamped this unit after the Cardinals finished dead last in yards allowed. The biggest change the Cardinals made was at linebacker with the additions of Kennard and Campbell in free agency and Simmons in the draft. So how will Arizona figure out this puzzle?
Hicks is locked in the middle of defensive coordinator Vance Joseph's 3-4 scheme, while Jones is set on the edge as one of the best pass rushers in the game. Where the Cardinals line up Simmons will be the question facing this defense throughout camp, but with Joseph's stated intent to play the rookie at linebacker and the team wanting him to focus on one position, we have him starting inside over Campbell. He could certainly end up in the secondary instead after the team sees what they have in the top pick. Kennard starts opposite Jones on the outside, though it's possible Reddick, a former first-round pick, taps into his potential and emerges as a starter at some point as well.
Baker is locked in at one safety position, while Jalen Thompson is the favorite to start alongside him if Simmons sticks at linebacker. Peterson isn't an All-Pro corner anymore, but good enough to be a serviceable starter. Alford should land the other starting spot on the outside if he can prove his health, while Murphy is likely to feature inside at slot cornerback at times last year. Depending on matchups, the slot cornerback role could go to Simmons in some sub-packages to cover elite tight ends (George Kittle for example). Perhaps Peterson gets a look in the slot as well.
Phillips adds much-needed help for Jones on the defensive line, while Fotu will be a reliable run-stuffing defensive tackle as a backup. Phillips is lined up at the nose tackle on this depth chart but could easily line up at defensive end instead, which would put Peters back at nose where he played three of the past four seasons. Allen may be challenged by Bullard for playing time, but either way, the Cardinals have options here.
|K||Zane Gonzalez|| |
|P||Andy Lee||Ryan Winslow|
|LS||Aaron Brewer|| |
The Cardinals are set at kicker and punter with Gonzalez and Lee, especially since Lee is a year removed in leading the league in yards per punt. Isabella only had five kick returns last season, but he's the favorite for the job now that Pharoh Cooper is with the Carolina Panthers.
Kirk had six punt returns for touchdowns in college and would easily be one of the game's best punt returners if the Cardinals want to add more to his plate. He could also be the team's kick returner too, but Kingsbury needs his big-play ability in his offense.