The Breakdown: Wide Receiver

Good news first.  The Cardinals are loaded at wide receiver, with two guys (Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald) that are signed to long term deals that each caught 100 passes last season for over 1,400 yards.  Directly behind them is Bryant Johnson, a former first round pick out of Penn State that still caught 40 balls for over 400 yards last year after Fitzgerald and Boldin had their fill.

The oldest receiver on the depth chart (Anquan Boldin) is 26.  And, while some could claim that the gaudy statistics the receivers have piled up are a result of Dennis Green's system and a lack of talent and depth at running back and tight end last season, that would definitely be a pessimist's view of the situation.  Both Boldin (6'1", 220) and Larry Fitzgerald (6'3, 224) have the size and speed to succeed in any system at any level.  Couple their statistics with the fact that they amassed them catching passes from Kurt Warner, Josh McCown, and John Navarre, and they become even more impressive.

 

Bryant Johnson, while many feel he has underachieved given his first round status, still has the size (6'3", 214) and the skill to do a lot of damage in the long shadows that Boldin and Fitzgerald cast on him.  And, since the Cardinals play almost exclusively in three wide receiver sets, his production does not project to decline as long as Coach Green is pacing the sidelines for Arizona.

 

After the top three receivers in the rotation, however, talent begins to thin.

 

LeRon McCoy, the fastest prospect ever recruited out of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, posted 18 catches for 191 yards and a touchdown last season and contributed on special teams.  However, he's another big receiver (6'1", 205) with speed that might be able to fill in if needed.  Fortunately, Boldin's the only receiver on the roster with an injury history, so let's hope we don't need to find out.

 

Carlyle Holiday has no career statistics, which is about on par with most 5th receivers in the league.  Once again, he's a big man (6'2", 217) and has some speed.  But you really have to wonder if someone who has never caught a pass in the NFL could step in and contribute, should it become necessary.  Hopefully, the fact that he has the prototypical size needed to succeed in Coach Green's system will compensate for whatever he's lacking that has dropped him to fifth on the depth chart.

 

Behind these 5 gentlemen are a number of guys that would just like to make the team. 

 

Zamir Cobb out of Temple has battled injury and adversity to stay on rosters.  Troy Walters, the graybeard of the receiver corps at 30 (I only counted starters or definite back-ups as "on the roster") has some experience with Indianapolis and has the look of a shifty slot receiver (5'7", 172), but you have to assume that, after 6 seasons in the league, if he was going to make it, he'd have made it by now.  And Todd Watkins (another big guy at 6'2", 201) was drafted by the Cardinals out of BYU in the 7th Round of this year's draft.

 

In addition to the three men mentioned above, three undrafted free agents have been thrown into the mix.  Damarius Bilbo of Georgia Tech has the right kind of size (6'2", 222) to catch Green's eye, but his lack of college production and inexperience could present a challenge when it comes down to cut time.  Greg Lee of Pittsburgh is considered still too young and reckless, but was the primary target at Pittsburgh and has an ally on the roster in the form of Larry Fitzgerald.  Michael Spurlock of Mississippi is a former quarterback and might be too raw and unpolished to make this particular roster.

 

All in all, though, the only three roster spots that are completely set in stone are the first three.  After that, there are 9 men fighting for three jobs.  Some have seniority and experience on their side while others have youth, talent, and experience on their side.  However it shakes out, the Cardinals win.  It's much more advantageous to have tough decisions to make when the "tough decisions" revolve around which talented player to re-assign to the Practice Squad.


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