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The Blank Breakdown: Arizona Cardinals Roster

The Arizona Cardinals finished last season with a 5-10-1 record. The team is coming off their first season with QB Kyler Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The Cardinals have been very active this offseason. They have made several additions to their team, while retaining key pieces.

Key additions include All-Pro WR Deandre Hopkins, LB De’Vondre Campbell, LB Devon Kennard, DT Jordan Phillips, and LB Isaiah Simmons.

Key players retained include RB Kenyan Drake, WR Larry Fitzgerald, OT Marcus Gilbert, OT D.J. Humphries, and K Zane Gonzalez.

Let’s take a look at the Cardinals roster going into the 2020 season.

Quarterback

Starter: Kyler Murray

Backups: Drew Anderson, Brett Hundley, and Chris Steveler

After being drafted with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Murray proved to be the future at the QB position. Last season, Murray threw for 3,722 yards and 20 touchdowns, while adding 544 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Murray did throw 12 interceptions and can look to improve on the turnovers in year two with Kingsbury’s air-raid offense.

Murray played well in his first season under a year one NFL coach and is ready to take the offense to the next level in year two.

Running Back

Starter: Kenyan Drake

Backups: Eno Benjamin, Chase Edmonds, D.J. Foster, Jonathon Ward

The Cardinals traded for Kenyan Drake last season and he took off in the second half.

In six games with the Dolphins before the trade, Drake had 348 total yards and zero touchdowns. In his eight games with the Cardinals, Drake totaled 814 yards and eight touchdowns. His play over the second half led to him being assigned the transition tag and signing the tender.

The Cardinals traded David Johnson to the Texans in the Hopkins deal, which gives Drake more opportunities and helps the Cardinals move on from the injury-riddled Johnson.

Drake looks to keep up his strong play to lead the Arizona backfield this year.

Wide Receiver

Starters: DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and Larry Fitzgerald

Backups: Jeremiah Braswell, Hakeem Butler, Johnie Dixon, Keesean Johnson, and Andy Isabella

The Cardinals made a blockbuster trade, acquiring All-Pro Deandre Hopkins from the Texans for RB David Johnson. Hopkins gives Murray a top weapon in the offense, with it being one of the league’s top wide receivers.

Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk led to the Cardinals in receiving last year and will be back as secondary options in the air-raid offense this season.

Expect more from the Cardinals offense this season with the addition of
Hopkins and the reliability of Larry Fitzgerald and continual development of Christian Kirk.

Tight End

Starter: Maxx Williams

Backups: Dan Arnold, Ryan Becker, Dylan Cantrell, Darrell Daniels, and Parker Houston

One of the weaker spots for the Cardinals is the tight end position. Charles Clay is no longer with the team, opening up the opportunity for Maxx Williams to take over the starting spot.

Williams had 202 yards and one touchdown on 15 receptions a year ago. The tight end position may not be utilized as much, but will be critical for the Cardinals in blocking as the line has been very weak the past few years.

Offensive Line

Starters: Marcus Gilbert, J.R. Sweezy, Justin Pugh, D,J. Humphries, and Mason Cole

Backups: Max Garcia, Josh Jones, Justin Murray, and Steven Gonzalez

The offensive line for the Cardinals has been one of the weakest positions the past few years. A year ago, the line surrendered 48 sacks (average of 3 sacks per game), which ranked last in the NFL.

The line has experience with Gilbert, Pugh, and Sweezy which will help in the development of third round pick, Josh Jones this upcoming season. D,J. Humphries got a new deal and is going to be a piece on the line for the years to come.

Expect a better season from the line as the offensive line was at the bottom of the league in 2019.

Defensive Line

Starters: Corey Peters, Jordan Phillips, and Zach Allen

Backups: Leki Fotu, Jonathon Bullard, Rashard Lawrence, and Trevon Coley

The Cardinals defense struggled last season. They lacked pressure up front and made it a priority by adding Jordan Phillips in free agency. Phillips will become the presence along the inside and the return of Zach Allen will provide a boost to the line.

Rashard Lawrence was drafted in the fourth round of the draft and is going to be a rotational piece early on for the Cardinals as well. There is a lot of youth on the front three, but the development will be aided with Peters and Phillips.

Linebacker

Starters: Chandler Jones, Isaiah Simmons, De’Vondre Campbell, and Jordan Hicks

Backups: Devon Kennard, Haason Reddick, Evan Weaver, and Kylie Fitts

The Cardinals needed to upgrade the LB position going into this offseason. Chandler Jones was the bright spot of the defense last year and is the leader off the entire unit.

Jones is one of the league’s best players and has been gotten help this offseason. The Cardinals signed De’Vondre Campbell in free agency from the Falcons, who is coming off of a career-high 129 tackles and two interceptions last year.

Jordan Hicks returns coming off of a solid 2019 campaign with 150 tackles and three interceptions. To add to the LB unit, the Cardinals got a steal with the No. 8 pick in Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson.

Simmons was arguable the most athletic player in the draft and brings an immediate upgrade to the WILL position and is going to be a key piece for the defense alongside Jones this year.

The depth also improved as Haason Reddick will play more of a depth role alongside newly-signed Devon Kennard. The Cardinals LB unit upgraded drastically this offseason and is going to be a crucial aspect of the defense this year.

Cornerback

Starters: Patrick Peterson and Byron Murphy

Backups: Robert Alford, JAlen davis, and Kevin Peterson

The Cardinals are sticking with their top two options from last year at the CB position.

Patrick Peterson has been one of the leaders for the defense since being drafted in 2011. Peterson was selected to the Pro bowl in his first eight seasons in the NFL and is a three-time First-Team All-Pro. Despite his age and his play slipping a tiny bit, Peterson is still a top corner in the league.

Byron Murphy was drafted by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2019 draft and became an impact player in the defense. In his first season, Murphy displayed his physicality, recording 78 tackles and 10 passes defensed. Murphy is going to be a key piece to the secondary this season.

Safety

Starters: Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson

Backups: Deionte Thompson, Isaiah Simmons, and Charles Washington

The back end of the secondary for the Cardinals is led by veteran Buddy Baker and second-year player Jalen Thompson.

Baker has been a top contributor for the defense in his first three seasons. He is a two-time Pro Bowler and a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2017. Last year, Baker displayed his physicality and tackling ability with his league-leading 104 solo tackles.

Thompson started nine game last year as a rookie and was active with his athleticism on the defense. He looks to take another step forward in his second season to play key role in the secondary.

A huge plus for the Cardinals secondary is Isaiah Simmons’ ability to play both LB and safety gives the Cardinals a dual threat coming into the 2020 season.

Special Teams

Starters: Zane Gonzalez (K), Andy Lee (P), Aaron Brewer (LS)

Zane Gonzalez returned to Arizona on a new deal following a strong 2019 campaign, hitting over 88 percent of his kicks and converting on 34 of 35 extra point attempts.

Andy Lee is heading into his fourth season with the Cardinals. over his first three seasons in Arizona, Lee has a net average of 47.9 yards per punt.

Going into this season, the Cardinals could be a sleeper team for the playoffs as they have added a top tier weapon to Kyler Murray’s arsenal and made several key additions to the defense after struggling the past couple seasons.

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