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For What It's Worth In June, Offensive Edition

Predicting the starters against the Commanders in September

This is an exercise I have done for more than a decade, a late June prediction of what the starting lineup is going to look like when the Cardinals begin the regular season, in this case at Washington. Never have I felt less confident about more of the choices than I do this year (and it might be worse for the defense.) There are picks that make sense, but right now it's hard to tell for sure what Jonathan Gannon is going to do when it matters -- or what might change in training camp.

Nevertheless, we press on. What will the offense look like? Maybe not this, but in my June-before-vacation-verse, this makes sense to me.

Quarterback – Colt McCoy. I do not think Kyler Murray is there for opening day. We can discuss when Murray might be back, In the meantime, it still feels like the veteran McCoy will be out there behind center, give Gannon an experienced mind to lead the way.

Running back – James Conner. I am not sure exactly why Conner has been acting the way he has this offseason -- maybe it's the new coaching staff, maybe it's the idea he's going to get the ball more, maybe it's just who he is -- but the veteran has been happy and optimistic the last few months. He's a leader on the unit, and for this offense to succeed, the Cards need him to have a big year.

Wide receiver – Hollywood Brown. Contract year. No Hopkins. Other than his best friend Kyler being hurt, it's lining up for a big opportunity for Brown. Now he must take advantage.

Wide receiver – Rondale Moore. There are lots of choices to be the No. 2. It's possible the Cardinals will want some Zach Pascal size. But Moore, looking to finally get past all the injury issues of his first two seasons, has tempting talent.

Tight end – Zach Ertz. Here is a swing for the fence. Ertz is coming back from an ACL tear. He declines to put a timetable on his return, noting it's not fair to him or anyone else to do so. That is fair. I'm going to guess he will be ready by the first game. I certainly don't feel 100 percent about it, but it would be a big deal in an offense that will want to use multiple tight ends.

Tight end – Trey McBride. He's either going to be TE1 or TE2. But he has made strides just since getting playing time at the end of his rookie season.

Left tackle – D.J. Humphries. The biggest test for Hump will be in camp, because after missing half a season with back problems, he still needs to prove he can hold up with the heavy hitting. But his head is in a good place and, assuming health, he's motivated to come back strong.

Left guard – Dennis Daley. Daley is here now but who knows if that is who will be there when the season starts? The Cardinals have many options -- if Josh Jones or Kelvin Beachum don't start at tackle, could they play guard. Might it be Marquis Hayes or rookie Jon Gaines? Camp will sort it all out.

Center – Hjalte Froholdt. Well, the Cardinals got through much of the offseason without signing a veteran center, although that could still happen at camp. For now, Froholdt, he of four NFL starts at center, is the guy. Smart and strong, but he doesn't have a lot of experience.

Right guard – Will Hernandez. There are questions about what happens on the offensive line, but Hernandez isn't one of them.

Right tackle – Paris Johnson Jr. Johnson was the sixth overall pick and, given where the Cardinals are as a team, starting him from jump makes sense. With Humphries around, starting Johnson at right tackle makes sense.

Paris Johnson (left) and Will Hernandez.
Paris Johnson (left) and Will Hernandez.