Welcome to a new series of the blog. With NFL Preseason right around the corner, myself, along with a few other guests, will be previewing all 32 NFL teams before the start of the 2019 Regular Season. The previews will be done in alphabetical order, with the layout recapping each teams previous season, going over the position groups (along with the projected starters, backups, preseason cuts), and their expectations for the new season.

First up, the Arizona Cardinals.

2018 was not a good season for the Cardinals. First-year Head Coach Steve Wilks struggled to get anything going as the team finished with a league-worst 3-13 record. The team drafted Josh Rosen with the 10th overall and struggled from the gate. Rosen threw for 2,278 yards to go along with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. In addition to Rosen, the offensive line struggled, the defensive had trouble stopping the opposing offense. The only bright spots on the season were Patrick Peterson continuing his Pro Bowl level of play, Chandler Jones, and David Johnson finally came back as a healthy running back.

The team went in a complete overhaul this past offseason. With the #1 overall pick, the team selected Heisman Winner Kyler Murray. In the process, the team traded Rosen to the Miami Dolphins and Arizona hired former Texas Tech Head Coach Kilff Kingsbury as their head guy. I think this is a perfect match as Kingsbury’s offense is more a spread, air raid offense and Murray is a mobile quarterback that can throw the long ball.

In addition, the team drafted multiple wide receivers and added some pieces on defense via free agency. Here the position breakdown for the team, with predictions for the starting lineup, backups, and players likely to be cut once the regular season starts.

Quarterbacks

Credit: Matt York/AP Photo
  • Starter: Kyler Murray
  • Backup: Brett Hundley
  • Preseason Cuts: Drew Anderson, Charles Kanoff

You don’t draft a QB first overall to have him sit on the bench. Murray is the clear-cut starter for years to come. Murray has the skills to match in Coach Kingsbury’s offense and the team expects positive results sooner rather than later. The backup looks to be obvious too in Hundley. Anderson and Kanoff will both be fighting for a spot on the practice squad.

Running Backs

Credit: Chris Coduto/Getty Images
  • Starter: David Johnson
  • Backups: Chase Edmonds, T.J. Logan,
  • Preseason Cuts: D.J. Foster, Wes Hills, Dontae Strickland, Xavier Turner

After an injury-riddled 2017 season, Johnson came back playing in all 16 games in 2018, where he rushed for 940 yards. In addition to his running skills, Johnson is also an excellent pass catcher. When healthy, Johnson is one of the best backs in the league. Edmonds will look to take the load off of Johnson a bit as he a smaller back but fits perfect in Kingsbury’s offense as the third-down back. Logan will likely make the team once again but in a Special Teams role.

If Foster or Wells impresses in camp, the team could opt to carry a 4th RB or just bring them back on the practice squad.

Wide Receivers

Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images
  • Starters: Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella
  • Backups: Hakeem Butler, Chad Williams, KeeSean Johnson
  • Preseason Cuts: Damiere Byrd, Pharoh Cooper  A.J. Richardson, Trent Sherfield, Kevin White

The Legend and future Hall of Famer Fitzgerald is not going anywhere anytime soon unless he decides to retire. He leads a very young group of WR’s looking to make an impact right away. Arizona drafted five receivers in the past two drafts, so I think they’ll all make the roster, with Kirk and rookie Isabella starting alongside Fitzgerald. that being said, we could see as many as five receivers in Kingsbury’s offense.

White may make some noise in the preseason but injuries have ruined a once promised career for the former #7 overall selection. Cooper could also make an impact but his skills are more in the Special Teams role but might get beaten out by the other rookies in the kick return roles.

Tight Ends

Credit: Lynne Sladky/AP Photo
  • Starter: Charles Clay
  • Backups: Ricky Seals-Jones, Maxx Williams
  • Preseason Cuts: Drew Belcher, Darrell Daniels, Caleb Wilson

During his time at college, Kingsbury rarely used tight ends and that might be the case in the NFL. Clay is a veteran and has starting experience when he was with the Buffalo Bills so he’ll likely be the first tight end to come into the game when the formations are used.

Seals-Jones is a vertical threat which is perfect for the offense and looks to be a lock for the roster. Williams will be the lead man battling for the final TE spot but his experience will help him here.

Offensive Line

Credit: Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
  • Starters: D.J. Humphries, J.R. Sweezy, Mason Cole, Justin Pugh, Marcus Gilbert
  • Backups: A.Q. Shipley, Max Garcia, Joshua Miles
  • Preseason Cuts: Tariq Cole, Korey Cunningham, Lamont Gaillard, Colby Gossett, Rees Odhiambo, Coleman Shelton, William Sweet, Jeremy Vujnovich

The offensive line was one of the worst last season, allowing then starter Josh Rosen to get sacked too many times and not opening enough holes for the run game. The line looks to be improved this year with Humphries, Sweezy, Cole, Pugh, and Gilbert more than likely to be the starting lineup from left to right. Humphries is the only concern here as he showed he cannot stay healthy.

Shipley and Garcia are solid veteran backups that can play in multiple spots on the line. Miles is a 7th round rookie that could make the roster if he impresses in preseason action.

Defensive Line

Credit: Arizona Cardinals Website
  • Starters: Darius Philon, Corey Peters, Rodney Gunter
  • Backups: Zach Allen, Terrell McClain
  • Preseason Cuts: Sterling Bailey, Miles Brown, Michael Dogbe, Vincent Valentine

New Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph will switch the Cardinals defense to a 3-4 style. The starters look to be Philon and Gunter as the defensive ends while Peters starting at the tackle spot. Allen and McClain will look to be the backups, especially with the team recently releasing Robert Nkemdiche.

Linebackers

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports
  • Starters: Chandler Jones, Haason Reddick, Jordan Hicks, Terrell Suggs
  • Backups: Brooks Reed, Pete Robertson, Joe Walker, Pita Taumoepenu
  • Preseason Cuts: Vontarrius Dora, Dennis Gardeck, Cameron Malveaux, Ezekiel Turner, Tanner Vallejo

Chandler Jones is one of the pass rushers in the game while the longtime Baltimore Raven Suggs will start opposite of him. Hasson Reddick and Jordan Hicks solid starters for both middle linebacker spots. The depth at the position lacks a little, with Reed being the only notable name here.

While the starters are pretty much set, the backup linebacker spots look to be a wide-open option.

Cornerbacks

Credit: Ross D. Franklin/AP
  • Starters: Patrick Peterson, Robert Alford
  • Backups: Byron Murphy, Josh Shaw, Brandon Williams, Tramaine Brock Sr.
  • Preseason Cuts: Nigel Brooks, Chris Jones, Deatrick Nichols, Josh Shaw

Peterson is one of the best corners in the league and after being rumored to be on the trading block, he is committed to staying in The Desert. Alford was acquired this past offseason and will likely start opposite of Peterson. Second-round pick Murphy will get plenty of looks at the Nickel spot but could also give Alford a run for his money as the starter.

Guys like Shaw, Williams, and Brock Sr. are veterans who will provide some good depth for the team, especially since Peterson is suspended for the first four games of the season.

Safeties

Credit: Arizona Cardinals Website
  • Starters: Bubba Baker, D.J. Swearinger Sr.
  • Backups: Deionte Thompson, Jalen Thompson, Jonathan Owens
  • Preseason Cuts: Rudy Ford, Tyler Sigler, Ezekial Turner

Arizona’s safeties can do a little bit of everything and it should be interesting to see how they play in Joseph’s defense. Baker and Swearinger Sr. should be locked in as the starters. Both Deionte and Jalen Thompson are rookies and should get a lot of looks in different formations.

Them, along with Owens, could make an impact on Special Teams.

Specialists

Credit: Arizona Cardinals Website
  • Kicker: Zane Gonzalez
  • Punter: Andy Lee
  • Long Snapper: Aaron Brewer
  • Preseason Cuts: Ryan Winslow

There is no real competition when it comes to the specialist. Gonzalez will look to revitalize his career after his run with the Cleveland Browns and Lee is one of the best punters in the league.

So what should we expect from the Arizona Cardinals in 2019? For starters, the offense is going to look completely different. With Kingsbury running the team and Murray under center, expect an exciting offense to watch. The team has a lot of young talent outside of the QB, particularly in the receiving core and it would not shock me if as many as five receivers make an immediate impact on the team. Johnson is still a top back in the league and will look to be a threat in the passing game as well.

As for the defense, the pass-rushing combo of Jones and Suggs will provide nightmares for opposing tackles. Peterson is will a top corner that will shut down an opposing teams top playmaker. Baker and Swearinger Sr. will be a nasty safety combo that isn’t afraid to make contact when needed.

Overall, I think Arizona will be competitive. They are a young team with a lot to prove. They might not win many games in the beginning but they are a team on the rise once the young guys develop. It’ll be a rebuilding year but that offense is going to be fun to watch.

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