Cardinals' 90-man roster analysis: Wide receiver

The Arizona Cardinals have more wide receivers on their 90-man roster than players at any other position group, which should create fierce competition for the spots that remain up for grabs.

Tier Key

1: Players who, barring a significant setback or injury, will make the Cardinals' 53-man roster this season

2: Players who must compete for a spot on the Cardinals' 53-man roster this season

3: Players who are likely to be cut by the Cardinals prior to the team finalizing its 53-man roster this season

Wide receivers

Tier 1: Larry FitzgeraldJohn Brown, J.J. Nelson, Chad Williams

Analysis: Last year, the Arizona Cardinals began the regular season with four wide receivers on their active roster, but were quickly forced to expand their options at the position. This year, the team already has four players who are sure bets to make the team which means the competition among players in tiers two and three figures to be intense. Fitzgerald, Brown and Nelson are all likely to play significant roles in Arizona's offense this season, even as Fitzgerald nears the end of his career and Brown attempts to control sickle-cell trait, which left him with sore hamstrings last season. Even with the loss of Michael Floyd, Arizona already knows it has a player who can help pick up the slack in Nelson, who was the team's No. 2 receiver behind Fitzgerald for much of last season and a unique deep threat who presents quarterback Carson Palmer with an over-the-top weapon. Williams may not find himself with an abundance of opportunities this season, but the Cardinals can't afford to stash him on the practice squad because another team would surely bite. That means Williams will take up an additional roster spot, and the Cardinals will hope to receive any production they can get out of the rookie who may have a difficult time adjusting to the speed of the game in the pros.

Tier 2: Jaron BrownAaron DobsonAndre EllingtonBrittan GoldenJeremy Ross

Analysis: The most fascinating competition for roster spots this fall could be taking place among these five players, who all boast important NFL experience and have proven they have what it takes to contribute to a successful offense. Ellington's transition from running back to wide receiver leaves the Cardinals in a position where Arizona could conceivably have seven receivers on its 53-man roster if it's comfortable beginning the season with just three running backs, but that's assuming Ellington's transition is a smooth one. The Cardinals had nothing but praise for Jaron Brown before he tore his ACL last season, and if he returns with a clean bill of health, he could be the odds-on favorite to push ahead of the other players in tier two. Ross and Dobson find themselves in interesting positions because both are veteran players, but neither has enjoyed sustained production at the NFL level. The wildcard here is Golden, who is the least talented receiver of the bunch but might provide the team with the most special teams value of anyone in this group. Our bet is that this is the year the Cardinals move on from Golden, but it's still far too soon to make any predictions for players in this tier.

Tier 3: Carlton AgudosiMarquis BundyLarry Clark, Krishawn Hogan

Analysis: Because the Cardinals already have nine receivers on their roster with a serious chance of making the roster, the best case scenario for the players in tier three at wide receiver is to secure a spot on Arizona's practice squad. Players like Dobson, Ross and Golden would likely look for opportunities elsewhere if they were cut by the Cardinals, while Ellington and Jaron Brown wouldn't encounter an issue finding a new suitor if the Cardinals moved in a different direction this fall. What all of this means is that because no one from tier two is likely to end up on Arizona's practice squad, the receiver(s) in tier three who earns a spot could be the first player called up to the team's active roster should the Cardinals experience injury issues. Agudosi and Clark both stood out to Cardinals' head coach Bruce Arians at the rookie minicamp over the weekend, which gives them an opportunity to build off of the impression they already made. 


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