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In case you missed it from yesterday’s article , here is the Cardinals current “two deep” roster:

Offense (24 players):

QB: Kyler Murray (22); Brett Hundley (26)

RB: Kenyan Drake (26); Chase Edmonds (23)

TE: Maxx Williams (25); Dan Arnold (25)

WR: Larry Fitzgerald (36); Hakeem Butler (23)

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (27); KeeSean Johnson (23)

WR: Christian Kirk (23); Andy Isabella (23)

LT: D.J. Humphries (26); Joshua Miles (24)

LG: Justin Pugh (29); Max Garcia (28)

C: Mason Cole (23); Lamont Gaillard (24)

RG: J.R. Sweezy (30); Sam Jones (24)

RT: Justin Murray (26); Brett Toth (23)

WC: Chris Streveler (25); Trent Sherfield (24)

Defense (22 players):

SAM OLB: Devon Kennard (28); Haason Reddick (25)

LDE: Zach Allen (22); Jonathan Bullard (26)

NT: Corey Peters (31); Miles Brown (22)

RDE: Jordan Phillips (27); Michael Dogbe (23)

JACK OLB: Chandler Jones (30); Kylie Fitts (25)

MIKE ILB: Jordan Hicks (27): Dennis Gardeck (25)

WILL ILB: De’Vondre Campbell (26); Tanner Vallejo (25)

LCB: Patrick Peterson (29); Byron Murphy (22)

SS: Jalen Thomson (21); Charles Washington (27)

FS: Budda Baker (24); Deionte Thompson (23)

RCB: Robert Alford (31); Chris Jones (24)

Special Teams (6 players):

K Zane Gonzalez (24)

P Andy Lee (37); Ryan Winslow (25)

LS: Aaron Brewer (29)

ST: Zeke Turner (23); Chris Banjo (30)

Analysis:

Steve Keim has been doing a diligent job of adding key players at positions of need, while trying to maintain as much continuity as possible (re-signing 10 of the Cardinals’ own free agents!) in all three phases of the team, offense, defense and special teams.
The main reason why Keim’s efforts have been praiseworthy is that no one as yet knows when teams will be able to hold mini-camps—-if at all before the middle of July—-and thus maintaining as much continuity as possible should allow the Cardinals to hit the round running as best they can in training camp.
In all likelihood, this year’s rookies are going to have a difficult time of competing for starting jobs or key roles early on in the season because of the uncertain timetables as to when teams can hold OTAs and minicamps. Thus—-when you look at what Keim has done—-he has assembled bona fide starters and solid, young depth at every position so that the Cardinals will not be forced to rush in a rookie too quickly.
There has been a recent proposal from the GM Committee to postpone the NFL Draft (due to greater restrictions for urban teams and the inability to conduct necessary physicals and meetings for draft prospects with question marks, etc.), although it appears that the NFL would prefer to keep the draft as scheduled.
The way the Cardinals’ current roster is constructed, it appears that the positions the Cardinals could be targeting the most in the draft are: T, RB, OLB, ILB, S, DT (if they are unable to re-sign Zach Kerr or another UFA DT) and TE (if they are unable to re-sign Charles Clay)—-with reasons being the potential practice squad bubble players on the current two-deep: T Brett Toth, RB (no 3rd RB on roster and Kenyan Drake is on a 1 year deal), OLB Kylie Fitts, ILB Tanner Vallejo (De’Vondre Campbell is on a one year deal), S (Charles Washington and Chris Banjo are used primarily as ST aces).
My hunch is that Steve Keim would prefer to move down from #8 in order to add an extra pick or two. Seth Cox and I were discussing this last evening and it would not be surprising if the Cardinals traded down even into the teens or 20s (depending on the added draft pick haul) if they have comparably high grades on Ts Ezra Cleveland (Boise St.), Josh Jones (Houston) or Austin Jackson (USC)—-or—-if they think they can still draft one of those tackles in Round 2, if they pick up a 2nd rounder in the trade—-they could decided to take one of these following players:
WR John Jefferson (LSU)—-Jerry Sullivan’s favorite WR in the draft

RB K.J Dobbins (Ohio St.)—-the top bell cow RB in this class

DT Ross Blacklock (TCU), Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma)—-crackerjack defensive lineman the Cardinals have expressed interest in.

S Xavier McKinney (Alabama)—-stud, multi-talented defender

ILB Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma) or Patrick Queen (LSU)—-other star defenders the Cardinals have interviewed.

CB Trevon Diggs (Alabama), C.J. Henderson (Florida) or Kristian Fulton (LSU)—-all fit Vance Jospeh’s press CB mold..

The thing about all of these players mentioned above—-all of them should be off the board by the time the Cardinals pick at #72.

Thus, if the Cardinals have one or two of these players rated in their top 10, they can trade down to take him and add a Day 2 pick, plus maybe a Day 3 pick as well.

So, for the sake of discussion, let’s say the Cardinals trade the #8 pick to the Dolphins for their #18 (1st Round), #39 (2nd Round) and #153 (5th Round) picks, here is a mock of what they could accomplish:

  1. Ezra Cleveland, T, Boise St. Has similar size, athleticism and feet to Eagles’ standout RT Lane Johnson. Can play both LT and RT.
  2. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU. With Kyler Murray, he forms nearly impossible tandem and 1-2 punch for LBers, at times, to see and pick up. Joe Burrow said Clyde was the toughest and most favorite teammate on the Tigers.
  3. Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois. The length, quickness and speed to blanket TEs, as he did at the Senior Bowl.
  4. James Lynch, 34DE, Baylor. 24/7 motor who manifests tremendous determination to tackle RBs and get to the QB.
  5. Kevin Dotson, G, Louisiana Tech. #1 grade (92.1) at G in 2019, per PFF.
  6. Evan Weaver, ILB, California. Tackling magnet whom the Cardinals have shown extensive interest in..
  7. Derrek Tuszka, OLB/DE, North Dakota St. Tenacious edge rusher. The defensive MVP of the Missouri Valley Conference (1st Team All-American), Tuszka’s 48 tackles and 13 1⁄2 sacks helped lead the Bison to another national championship.
  8. J.J. Taylor, RB, Arizona. Super quick and elusive, albeit under-sized.

What do you think of this draft as it would compare to taking T Jedrick Wills or T Tristan Wirfs at #8 and taking Cleveland, Edwards-Helaire and Weaver out of the equation?

Custom Robert Alford Jersey Large

Three members of the Arizona Cardinals who missed all of last season with injuries will need to get back on track in 2020
The Arizona Cardinals, led by new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, made outstanding progress in 2019. Several new acquisitions by the club’s front office contributed heavily to the optimism that’s surrounding the Cards. There were a trio of pickups from last offseason, however, who suffered injuries that cost them the entire season.

Cornerback Robert Alford, right tackle Marcus Gilbert and wide receiver Hakeem Butler all failed to make it to Arizona’s opening game. All three are on the road to recovery, and are expected to be back with the squad this coming fall. To say that these particular players have something to prove would be putting it lightly.

Alford was brought in to solve the Cardinals long-standing dilemma at the number-two cornerback spot. Unfortunately, a broken tibia that he suffered in August ruined that plan. Alford still has two campaigns left on the three-year, $22.5 million contract he agreed to with the Cards in February of ’19.

Another one of Arizona’s additions from a year ago also got hurt before the regular-season began. Marcus Gilbert, acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers, tore an ACL just days before the Cardinals first game. General manager Steve Keim had given up a sixth-round draft pick for the starting right tackle, but got nothing in return for his investment.

A Cards rookie also missed all 16 contests after he was sidelined following a preseason matchup. Hakeem Butler, a sixth-round selection out of Iowa State, ended up on the injured-reserve list with a broken hand. The 6’5, 227 pounder was the second of three wideouts chosen by Keim during last year’s NFL Draft.

NEXT: Cardinals have first round options
Arizona is counting on all three to bounce back from their disappointing setbacks. Alford and Gilbert could assume starting roles, while Butler will get to show what he can do for Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” offensive attack. Getting production out of the trio will certainly help the Cardinals to experience success in 2020.

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When the Arizona Cardinals announced they agreed to terms with linebacker Devon Kennard, they brought home another hometown player. Kennard not only played high school ball in Phoenix, he also brings a Cardinals legacy in his family.

His father played for the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals from 1986-1990.

According to Mark Dalton, who is the head of media relations for the team, this will be the third time in team history in which a father and son both played for the Cardinals.

The other two father-son duos are Kevin Butler and Drew Butler, and Terry and Eric Metcalf.

Let’s find out more about the other father-son combos.

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The Cardinals’ defensive line might be the most concerning position on the defense. Against the run, they finished 24th in the NFL last season and the line had a combined seven sacks. Their unit is led by 31-year-old nose tackle Corey Peters, who remains the most consistent run defender on the team. He finished the 2019 season with 38 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

After him, they are counting on last year’s third-round pick Zach Allen to start as the left side defensive tackle. He had a disappointing rookie year, suffering a season-ending neck injury in week four. Allen finished the year with only eight tackles through 144 snaps.

Even then, expectations remain very high for the second-year defensive tackle. The Cardinals had him as a top-25 prospect on their draft board for a reason and are hoping for big improvements from the Boston College standout.

The return of Brentson Buckner as the Cardinals’ defensive line coach certainly helps. He helped the Raiders jump from last in the NFL in sacks (13) in 2018 to 24th (32) last season. Their run defense also made a significant improvement from being 30th in 2018 to eighth in 2019. He was one of the biggest reasons why the Cardinals had so much success from 2013 to 2017.

Seventh-round pick Michael Dogbe, Miles Brown, and Lyndon Johnson are the only other defensive lineman under contract for the Cardinals through 2020. Dogbe had some good moments in the preseason but was a healthy scratch for most of the year. He had five tackles, one tackle for loss, and one QB hit through eight games. Brown was in and out of the roster but finished with four tackles. Johnson signed with the team on a futures contract.

With that said, they are still in search of a dominant starting defensive tackle that they have been missing since the departure of Calais Campbell in free agency a few seasons ago. Rodney Gunter is an impending free agent that led the Cardinals’ defensive lineman in sacks (3). His 2019 statistics also include 31 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and 10 QB hits. His familiarity with Buckner and Vance Joseph’s defense makes him a player likely to be re-signed.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
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Zach Kerr and Jonathan Bullard were quality backup defensive lineman for the Cardinals last season but are impending free agents as well. Cardinals will be interested in re-signing them but not before letting them test the market. Clinton McDonald and Caraun Reid will not be back.

Super Bowl LIV – San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
The Cardinals can immediately improve their defensive line by trading for Chiefs’ DT Chris Jones or the Jaguars’ DT Calais Campbell. If they choose to upgrade the nose tackle position, Steelers’ Javon Hargrave and Texans’ D.J. Reader are good options. None of these players will come cheap but it is the price they have to pay for quality players.

If they choose to go bargain hunting, Cowboys’ Maliek Collins or Eagles’ Timmy Jernigan would fit the bill. Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris will get plenty of interest from the Cardinals.

Javon Kinlaw and Derrick Brown are the top defensive tackle prospects on the 2020 draft class. Day two prospects to consider are A.J. Epenesa, Ross Blacklock, Jordan Elliott, and Justin Madubuike.

If the Cardinals can improve their run defense and upgrade the pass rush up front, it will do wonders for the secondary which finished 31st last season.

Whatever the team decides to do, this position must be prioritized in either free agency or the draft. No more taking chances on inconsistent draft prospects like Robert Nkemdiche, or aging players like Terrell Suggs. If the Cardinals want to contend in 2020, they need to minimize their mistakes and get the most out of the money they spend.

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The flood of one-year roster-building deals continued Wednesday for the Cardinals as they agreed to terms with veteran defensive lineman Trevon Coley as well as running back D.J. Foster.

Foster, acquired by the Cardinals in 2017, finished last season on injured reserve with a hamstring issue. He has appeared in only 13 games for the Cardinals, having missed all of 2018 with an injury. Mostly used as a receiving back in 2017, he had 17 catches that season. The former Arizona State and Scottsdale Saguaro High School star has not had a catch or rushing attempt the past two seasons.

Coley played in seven games for the Colts in 2019, but the previous two seasons he started 29 games for the Browns, compiling 80 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

His signing comes the same day former Cardinal defensive lineman Zach Kerr signed as a free agent with Carolina. The Cardinals already re-signed Jonathan Bullard on the defensive line, and also brought in newcomer Jordan Phillips as a free agent to be a starter on the line.

Foster is only the third running back on the roster, along with Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds.

Custom Jonathan Bullard Jersey Large

Defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard is one of the 12 players the Arizona Cardinals tagged or re-signed this offseason. We now have the details of his one-year contract.

The Cardinals structured the deal to use the veteran salary benefit, which makes his contract count less against the salary cap than it is worth.

According to Over the Cap and the NFLPA site, he will make $910,000 in salary. He gets a signing bonus of $137,500, for a total value of nearly $1.05 million.

Because of the veteran salary benefit, his contract will count only $887,500 against the cap, saving the team $160,000 in cap space.

It is the same salary and bonus as backup quarterback Brett Hundley, with one exception. Hundley has $750,000 of his salary guaranteed.

Bullard was acquired last season after the preseason on a waiver claim. He appeared in nine games last season, starting six. He had a career-high 1.5 sacks to go with 22 total tackles, four tackles for loss and seven quarterback hits.

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A quick check of our Arizona Sports Mock Draft Tracker revealed eight new 2020 NFL mock drafts posted Thursday.

Every single one of them has the Arizona Cardinals selecting an offensive tackle with the No. 8 pick. But why?

The thought process is simple. It’s assuming the Cardinals will draft based on need.

The Cardinals were sacked 50 times last season, tied for fifth-most in the NFL. While they re-signed left tackle D.J. Humphries and are bringing back right tackles Justin Murray and Marcus Gilbert, do they trust them?

Gilbert has played in only 12 of 48 games over the past three seasons due to injury. Murray only has 12 career starts, all of them coming last season.

Related Links
Next for the Cardinals?: Arizona Sports 2020 NFL Mock Draft Tracker
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Cards Connect 4 mock: Doug & Wolf double down on offense
The Arizona Sports Ultimate NFL Mock Draft
Do Cardinals need an OT? McShay’s NFL mock draft, Nagy disagree
There is not a lot of proven talent behind them unless the Cardinals trust in rapid development of 2019 seventh-round pick Joshua Miles or 23-year-old Brett Toth, who has not appeared in an NFL game.

Is it likely Arizona drafts a tackle No. 8 overall? Yes, and I get it.

But it’s no forgone conclusion. Here’s the nuance that general manager Steve Keim and his staff will be healthily debating for the next few weeks.

The DeAndre Hopkins trade shouldn’t end WR consideration

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Recent mock drafts cite the Cardinals’ trade for receiver DeAndre Hopkins as a reason for Arizona to forget about taking one of the top receivers: CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs III.

It’s important to remember that while the Cardinals trended more toward 11-personnel (three receivers, one tight end) and away from 10-personnel (four receivers, no tight ends) as coach Kliff Kingsbury navigated his first season, they were still wildly in favor of four receivers relative to the rest of the NFL.

They lined up with four receivers on 18% of their snaps with talent including Damiere Byrd, Pharoh Cooper and KeeSean Johnson, among others.

Now, trading for Hopkins might change what type of receiver the Cardinals want. Lamb gets comparisons to Hopkins, and it’s a wonder if Arizona would want two physical jump-ball threats on each side of the field. Would they rather have Jeudy’s versatility meshing with Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk or a vertical stretcher like Ruggs bringing something that neither of those three have?

Who is the No. 3 and 4 WR of the future?

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Here’s where we remind ourselves that Fitzgerald is 36 years old and continues to string together one-year contracts. For the 2021 season, the Cardinals don’t even have a clear-cut third receiver after Hopkins and Kirk.

Johnson, Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler and Trent Sherfield return and could assume that role if Fitzgerald calls it a career. If Arizona still feels good about one of them panning out, there’s less pressure to take a receiver in the 2019 draft.

While we’re talking about those young players, it’s important to remember the 2020 draft class has first-round receiver talents who could fall to the second or third rounds. Arizona, however, doesn’t have a second-round pick after the Hopkins deal.

It’s hard to say which receivers are left at 72nd overall, 114th overall and so on.

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The Cardinals are hoping for a major turnaround in 2020 behind quarterback Kyler Murray, but the roster still needs to be upgraded. General Manager Steve Keim has some cap space this offseason and will aim to plug holes on both sides of the ball. This is the final positional group breakdown leading into free agency, which is scheduled to begin with the legal tampering period on Monday, March 16.

Free agent primer: Offensive Line

Other positional primers: LB I WR I DL I QB I CB I TE I S I RB I ST

Cap hit of players under contract for 2020 (via OverTheCap.com): T D.J. Humphries ($12.8 million); G Justin Pugh ($10.5 million); G J.R. Sweezy ($6.5 million); C Mason Cole ($887,629); G/C Lamont Gaillard ($632,034); T Joshua Miles ($603,644); T Brett Toth ($585,000); G Sam Jones ($585,000).

Scheduled free agents: C A.Q. Shipley; T Justin Murray (exclusive rights); T Marcus Gilbert; T Jordan Mills; G Max Garcia.

Need: Low

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Analysis: The Cardinals locked down an integral piece by re-signing D.J. Humphries to a three-year deal in February. He will return to play left tackle, while Justin Pugh and J.R. Sweezy are projected to return as the starting guards. Starting center A.Q. Shipley is an impending free agent, and it remains to be seen if he returns or if the Cardinals go younger at the position. Mason Cole started all 16 games as a rookie in 2018 and filled in at multiple spots last season.

Right tackle is the most intriguing position. Justin Murray started most of the season after veteran Marcus Gilbert tore his ACL, and improved as the year went on. He will be back as an exclusive rights free agent, so it will be interesting to see if the Cardinals plunk him in as a low-cost starter or if they look for a higher-priced veteran to fortify the position. It’s tough to pencil in Gilbert as a clear-cut starter due to his extensive injury history, but he is a talented player who shouldn’t command the type of salary he did in past years.

Brett Toth, Lamont Gaillard and Joshua Miles are a trio of young players aiming to get into the mix with a solid offseason, while Sam Jones hopes to make the team after spending 2019 on the practice squad.

General Manager Steve Keim could stick with familiar faces at every position, or he could look to revamp a spot or two on the free agent market. Some of the top tackles scheduled to hit the market include Jack Conklin, Bryan Bulaga, Anthony Castonzo and Jason Peters. If Keim wants to add an interior player, prominent impending free agents include Brandon Scherff, Joe Thuney and Andrus Peat.

Notable past free agent special teams signings: Sweezy (2019); Pugh (2018); Andre Smith (2018); Alex Boone (2017); Earl Watford (2017); Evan Mathis (2016); Mike Iupati (2015); Shipley (2015); Jared Veldheer (2014); Ted Larsen (2014); Eric Winston (2013); Adam Snyder (2012); Daryn Colledge (2011); Rex Hadnot (2010); Mike Gandy (2007); Al Johnson (2007); Milford Brown (2006); Oliver Ross (2005); Pete Kendall (2001); Mike Gruttadauria (2000); Lester Holmes (1998); Lomas Brown (1996).

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The Arizona Cardinals front office is bringing back the offensive tackle who’s knee injury cost him the entire 2019 campaign
This past Thursday, the Arizona Cardinals front office made a somewhat surprising move. Marcus Gilbert, an offensive tackle who was acquired in a trade 12 months ago, was brought back on a one-year deal. The 6’6, 330 pounder missed all of last season with a torn ACL, and the general feeling was that the Cards would move on from the injury-prone Gilbert.

There were several reasons to believe that the club would find another way to fill the vacancy at their right tackle post. For one, various ailments had caused Gilbert to miss a bunch of playing time over the past few campaigns. In fact, the 32-year old has appeared in just 25 of a possible 64 games since 2016.

Besides the injury factor, many fans of the Cardinals strongly believed that the organization would look to next month’s NFL Draft for an alternative to Gilbert. There could be as many as four blue-chip offensive tackles for the franchise to choose from when they make their selection in the first round. It’s a group that includes Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr.,Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs and Louisville’s Mekhi Becton.

The fact that the Cards elected to bring back Justin Murray also made the retaining of Gilbert a bit of a head-scratcher. The 26-year old Murray held his own as the squad’s starting right tackle in 2019, and could likely do so again if Arizona really needed him to this coming fall. The $3.75 million that Gilbert will earn with his one-year contract almost guarantees that he’ll get the nod over Murray on the team’s 2020 depth chart.

Perhaps Cardinals general manager Steve Keim is just plain determined to get some payback on the investment he made in Gilbert a year ago. In March of ’19, a sixth-round draft pick was sent to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the veteran’s services. Gilbert’s season-ending knee injury robbed Keim and the Cards of any rewards they could’ve reaped by making the trade.

NEXT: Cardinals obtain another defensive lineman
The presence of Gilbert could certainly make Arizona go in a completely different direction with the draft’s eight-overall selection. Perhaps a player who could help them on the defensive side of the ball will be the choice. We’re now just weeks away from finding out what the Cardinals decision-makers will do with their valuable pick.

Custom DeAndre Hopkins Jersey Large

Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury believes the trade that sent running back David Johnson to the Houston Texans in exchange for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will be completed before the NFL draft begins on April 23.

“There’s not concern,” Kingsbury said on a video conference call with reporters on Tuesday. “But those aren’t official, as far as I know, at this point, but we’ll get it done. Obviously the medical field and personnel have much bigger fish to fry at this point. And so, it’s been slower than it would be, but I have no doubt it’s going to be done before the draft.”

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Texans’ O’Brien on trade: Hopkins wanted raise
The Cardinals and Texans agreed to the trade on March 16, two days before free agency began. Filling out the deal was the swapping of picks. Arizona also received a fourth-round pick this year, and Houston received a second-round pick this year and a fourth-round pick in 2021.

Kingsbury declined to talk too much about the trade or Hopkins because it isn’t finalized, but he said the wide receiver is a “tremendous player” who “has been healthy, played at a high level for a long time, so we’re excited about it.”

The deal came together quickly, Kingsbury said.

“Steve [Keim, the team’s general manager] called me down to his office and said we had something in the works,” Kingsbury added, “and they worked through it and got it done.”