Last season, the Arizona Cardinals saw significant contributions from their rookie class. Tyrann Mathieu and Andre Ellington emerged as rookies to watch across the league, and guys like Tony Jefferson also contributed on a weekly basis.
For the most part, I think all of the Cardinals drafted rookies will make the roster. Some, like Deone Bucannon and Troy Niklas, may actually be starters come Week One. Guys like Walt Powell may have to fight for it, but the other picks are all locks I feel. As far as the undrafted class is concerned, very rarely does an undrafted guy come in and take the league by storm. Some do, but they usually pay their dues as backups first, which is what seems destined for most of the Cardinals signings.
But there are some questions worth asking in regards to this class. Such as…
Can Logan Thomas beat out Ryan Lindley for the third QB spot?
The third quarterback spot isn’t very important in the grand scheme of things, and for the Cardinals, it is no different. With all reports pointing to Stanton keeping a grasp on the backup spot, the battle between Logan Thomas and incumbent third-stringer Ryan Lindley is of note. The big question is whether or not the Cardinals are ready to show Lindley the door – he is ineligible for the practice squad, and leaving him off the 53-man will result in his departure from the Birdgang. That seems likely given the amount of faith Arians has in Thomas, his fourth round selection. Simply put, Lindley was not drafted by Arians, so it is hard to imagine he has a place in the Cardinals’ future plans.
Where in the pecking order will Troy Niklas end up?
With John Carlson, Rob Housler and Jake Ballard all possessing veteran experience, former Notre Dame tight end and second round pick Troy Niklas will face an uphill battle to entrench himself on the depth chart. From a talent perspective, he boasts the best skillset of the four, and may not be buried for too long. I suspect he will be the number one tight end by season’s end,but I’m not sure it will happen out of camp.
Which undrafted guys look to have a shot?
Offensive guard Anthony Steen from Alabama and running back Zach Bauman from Northern Arizona stick out as guys with above average chances to make the roster. Steen in particular enjoyed an excellent career at Alabama, facing off against pro-caliber talent on a weekly basis in the vaunted SEC. At the very least, he can lock down a backup spot.
Bauman, on the other hand, is a shifty change-of-pace back whose highlight reel as a Lumberjack is worth drooling over. With other UDFA running back Tim Cornett already shown the door, Bauman may already be the guy, though veteran running back Jalen Parmele and the Arians-familiar Robert Hughes may stand between him and the roster spot.
Also, with the suspension of Daryl Washington, inside linebackers Jonathan Brown from Illinois and Glenn Carson from Penn State may be outside shots to make the roster, and subsequently see good playing time. Both are very raw, but Brown seems closer to NFL-ready than Carson. Barring another free agent, one of them will likely backup Foote, Alexander and Minter.
Agree? Disagree? Comment below!