As the Arizona Cardinals begin their quest to cut the team's roster size from 90 to 53 by the end of the preseason, we're taking a look at every player at each position group and determining their odds of making the final cut.
Player: Aaron Dobson
Position: Wide receiver
Experience: 5th NFL season
Contract status: 2017-$690,000, 2018-Unrestricted free agent
2016 season quick review: After compiling 53 receptions over the first three seasons of his career with the New England Patriots, Dobson was cut by New England at the end of the 2016 preseason. Dobson spent nearly three weeks as a free agent before the Detroit Lions signed him in the middle of September. Dobson wound up sticking on the roster for just one game, the Lions' week four loss against the Chicago Bears, before Detroit cut him, making him a free agent. Dobson failed to catch on with another team in 2016, and was signed to a futures contract by the Cardinals this January.
Projected roster status: Cardinals' head coach Bruce Arians has been high on Dobson, praising him publicly since Arizona signed him this January. Quarterback Carson Palmer said that Dobson quickly learned the team's offense in organized team activities. However, Dobson will be in a heated competition for a roster spot, and with the depth the Cardinals boast near the bottom of their wide receiver depth chart, CardinalsSource is projecting Dobson has a 25 percent chance of making Arizona's 53-man team.
Projected depth chart status: If Dobson does make the Cardinals' 53-man roster, he'll almost certainly slot into the fifth or sixth wide receiver role on the team's depth chart. However, Dobson is competing with the likes of Jaron Brown, Jeremy Ross and Andre Ellington, and it's difficult to foresee Dobson earning that role. It's one of the team's deepest position groups on the roster.
CardinalsSource.com analysis: Dobson showed impressive promise during the first three seasons of his career, sticking on a Patriots' squad that requires its receivers to be technically and fundamentally sound in their approach. However, Dobson was unable to find a job last season, which indicates he may have been a good fit for the Patriots' offensive system, but not necessarily other team's systems. After spending almost a full regular season away from the practice field, Dobson will attempt to carve out a role with an Arizona team that is looking to create competition for the fourth, fifth and potentially sixth wide receiver spots on its 53-man roster. Dobson is up against a stiff challenge, because Brown, Ellington and even Ross have more familiarity with the Cardinals' system, which will put him behind the eight-ball come fall camp. Additionally, because starting quarterback Carson Palmer won't throw until the final week of OTAs, Dobson won't have an opportunity to develop chemistry with the player who could be a difference-maker in his push to make the team. While the Cardinals are high on Dobson within the organization, the odds are stacked against him unless multiple players suffer injury setbacks.
Overall value: Players who agree to futures and reserves contracts rarely pan out over the long haul, so any production the Cardinals can get from Dobson would be welcome by Arizona. With just $615,000 committed to the Marshall product, Arizona isn't heavily invested in him and is simply hoping a change of scenery will help Dobson unlock some of his potential.