This is always one of the more interesting positions to monitor in training camp and the preseason each year as the necessity of 5-7 receivers on your 53-man roster in today’s pass happy NFL means there is plenty of competition and opportunity for camp invites or long shots to make the roster if they are able to impress during training camp.
The wide receiver position traditionally has been a position of strength for the Arizona Cardinals (save for the 2003 season when you had a washed up Frank Sanders, broken down David Boston and well just look for yourself. This year should be no different as the Cardinals boast Fitzgerald, Floyd, and a whole pool of guys to take the top off of the defense which the Cardinals were sorely lacking last season. Here is a breakdown of the wide receivers on the team heading into training camp broken down into four categories: Starters, secondary options, guys on the bubble and guys who are a long shot to make the 53-man roster
The Cardinals best receiver and best player of all-time will be the number one receiver and receive the most targets on the team as he has for the past decade. Fitzgerald is coming off of two straight seasons where he failed to reach 1,000 receiving but he rebounded last season to haul in 82 catches and 10 touchdowns. Fitzgerald will be 31 by the time the 2014 season starts but with the way he takes care of his body there is no reason he can’t play at a Pro Bowl level for at least three more years. Finally having a little continutity at the quarterback position for the first time since Kurt Warner retired in 2010 will hopefully result in a renaissance season for Fitzgerald.
Floyd was actually the Cardinals leader in receiving yardage last season with 1,041 yards. By all accounts he has slimmed down and added a little quickness and has dominated in OTA’s this offseason. He has Carson Palmer very excited:NFL.com had Fitzgerald as one of eight players to possibly regress in 2014. Could Floyd pass Fitzgerald?
Ted Ginn Jr.
The Cardinals signed former college superstar and somewhat underwhelming pro Ted Ginn Jr. to a 3-year $9 million dollar contract in the offseason to utilize his world class speed to be a burner and stretch the defense for a Cardinals team and a Bruce Arians offense that was sorely lacking consistency in the area last season. Ginn also made huge strides as a receiver and route runner in Carolina last season and could help in the return game.
This 3rd round selection out of Division II Pittsburgh State has been the most talked about pleasant surprise and break out star of OTA’s as the whole coaching staff and offense has been highly impressed with how skilled, talented and far along Brown seems to be already as a mid round pick from a small school. With low 4.3 speed and great route running instincts he could take over the role Ginn was slated to fill and is projected to be another T.Y. Hilton. Let’s hope Brown keeps his momentum up once the pads go on.
On the Bubble
Brown is a very talented receiver with an impressive physique at 6’2 205 lbs. that had 11 catches, 140 yards and a touchdown last season after being a surprise inclusion to the roster after being an undrafted rookie out of Clemson. He is a hard worker and good character guy evidenced by his being two-time All-ACC Academic Team at Clemson and team captain despite never having more than 430 yards receiving in a season in his career. He showed flashes last year and still has a good opportunity to make this team.
Powell is a 6th round selection out of Murray State that was extremely productive at Murray State as their leading receiver for three years but fell in the draft because of his poor 40-time, potential character issues, short arms and lack of strength. The Cardinals like Powell’s refined ability as a proven productive receiver and there’s a chance he’ll be on the 53-man.
Golden is best known for being the guy who had a 53-yard reception against the 49ers in San Francisco last season that had even diehard Cardinals fans saying “Nice catch…wait who is that?” as he was picked up a few weeks into the season and played his college ball at West Texas A&M (not the Texas A&M where Johnny Football became a college legend). He would then get injured and one up himself by having a 63-yard reception in the week 16 game in Seattle. He is a speedy receiver with potential but I foresee him being on the outside looking in once the preseason ends as the Cardinals added two guys in Ginn and John Brown to fill that role.
Buckner is a big physical receiver at 6’5” 220 lbs. that was on the Cardinals in the preseason last year; he also played his college ball down the road at the University of Arizona. The Cardinals seem to be far too deep at the wide receiver position for Buckner to have a realistic shot of making the team, but his size and skill set mean that he could land somewhere.
The former ASU receiver went undrafted this year and never really was a dominant force at the receiver position in college. I highly doubt he earns a spot on this team unless there are a few significant injuries at the position or he has an incredible training camp.
Pope was First-Team All-Southern Conference at Samford in 2013 and was productive in college. He is not physically imposing at 6’0” and 198 lbs. and is particularly fast with a 4.6 40-time and I don’t see any way in which he makes the team.