The Battle At Wide Receiver

Posted Jul 26, 2017

Larry Fitzgerald might be 33, but he led the league in receptions a season ago and is still playing at a high level as he winds down a Hall of Fame career. But there are legitimate questions behind him for the first time in a while.

Bruce Arians has been coaching in the NFL for 25 years. Someone with 25 minutes of experience could identify just as well the top receiver on the Cardinals’ depth chart.

Larry Fitzgerald might be 33, but he led the league in receptions a season ago and is still playing at a high level as he winds down a Hall of Fame career. But there are legitimate questions behind him for the first time in a while, with Michael Floyd gone and Smokey Brown hoping to bounce back from the health issues that derailed his 2016 season.

“I know who No. 1 is,” Arians said. “Two, three, four, five and six are working at it every day. It’s a really good competition. As are the last five guys.”

The five players on that second tier: Brown, J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown, Brittan Golden and, likely, Chad Williams.

If John Brown stays healthy –he has zipped around like normal during the early portion of camp – he is a fine No. 2 option that has the potential to top 1,000 yards receiving, as he did in 2015. In turn, that allows Nelson to be the No. 3, where he fits in well with his big-play ability.

In that scenario, all is good, but injuries happen, and the wide receiver depth isn’t the same as it’s been in past years. Jaron Brown has always been waiting for a bigger role, but he’s coming off a torn ACL that may limit him. Williams has promise but is still a rookie, and relying on him early isn’t ideal. Golden has been on the team for several years but has seen only spot duty on offense.

The Cardinals could very well be fine at wideout in 2017, but the margin for error seems slimmer. And even with David Johnson to carry the rock, the offense can only completely hit its stride if the passing game is humming.

As for the end of the depth chart, the seven wide receivers pushing for a spot on the team are: Aaron Dobson, Jeremy Ross, Krishawn Hogan, Larry Clark, Chris Hubert, Marquis Bundy and Carlton Agudosi.

They are all running with the backups for now, and we’ll watch to see if any of them can move up as training camp goes along. Arians usually keeps five or six wide receivers on the roster, so they would need to knock off an established player in order to claim a spot, since Williams figures to make the team regardless.

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