2014 Depth Chart: Arizona Cardinals

A look at the depth and quality of each position on the roster for the 2014 Arizona Cardinals.

| 1 year ago

2014 Depth Chart: Arizona Cardinals

2014 depth update ARZ

[Chart last updated: 7/9/14]


•  We debated if Michael Floyd had already moved into the “high quality” category but decided to give it another year. It was certainly close but we felt we had to include his first year even if it was with sub-optimal (that’s putting it kindly) quarterback play.

•  Bobbie Massie is an interesting player. I thought his end to the 2012 season (where he played as well as any RT after a horrific start) warranted an extended run. For some reason they decided to go with Eric Winston before realizing he really was on the down-slope and released him. If that move didn’t fully suggest the team doesn’t trust Massie, then giving Bradley Sowell (by far our lowest rated tackle of 2013) first crack at RT rubs home the point.   However, based purely on on-field production, we like him, and don’t believe whatever mental errors he makes could outweigh Sowell’s ineptitude.

•  Dan Williams’ grade may be a little lower than some may have considered fair because he actually is a pretty good nose tackle. The problem is he is limited to that role, playing less than 300 snaps, and not sufficiently great in it to deserve a “good starter” notation.

•  After returning from suspension last year Daryl Washington didn’t meet his previous high standards. We thought about a lower grade but felt that wouldn’t be entirely justified and marked him more on previous years.

•  Is Patrick Peterson “Elite”? It’s a valid question but, in the end, even taking into account what he’s asked to do (often covering number one receivers across the field) we felt he was a hair away. The deciding factor? How he was abused by the Titans (and Kendall Wright in particular) in Week 15.

•  It may be obvious but to be clear Tyrann Mathieu will play free safety in base and then cover the slot in nickel. It’s becoming a much more popular role thanks to his success and that of Kenny Vaccaro. Expect to see more of it as a counter to the proliferation of receiving tight ends used in the slot.

Roster Battles

1.  Right Guard

It’s likely down to Paul Fanaika or Earl Watford, although Ted Larsen may figure in that mix too. Last year’s incumbent, Fanaika, played all bar one snap but his performance was awful and he ended as our sixth-lowest rated guard. The fact that Watford couldn’t oust him despite that level of play either says a lot about him or the Cardinals’ desire not to change mid-season. I think given their conservative nature Larsen could end up a winner here.

2.  Right inside Linebacker

If the NFL hands out yet another suspension to Daryl Washington (this time for some domestic issues) it will leave last years second rounder, Kevin Minter, with his one defensive snap of NFL experience, Larry Foote, whose last full season in 2012 drew a -11.9 grade and Lorenzo Alexander, making a change from outside linebacker 10 years into his career, competing with a few free agents for both inside linebacker roles. Obviously Washington will fill one on his return but who’ll get the other? This year there is are Karlos Dansby’s waiting as a free agents to bail them out.

3.  Strong Safety

There’s no doubt the front office would prefer this year’s first round selection, Deone Bucannon leapt straight into the starting role, but, I’m sure, Tony Jefferson would like to have a say. Although he only played sporadically (202 snaps spread over seven games) he never looked out of his depth and also contributed well on special teams, in particular doing a good job on the punt return unit.


Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil

  • Rene Martinez

    That’s an awful lot of orange, red, and yellow for a team that went 10-6 in the NFC West.

    • BJR

      Sure there is – in the second column. But I can’t imagine many NFL rosters where the second stringers are above average starters. Otherwise…… yeah you get it.

    • jtruff

      72.3% of their starters are considered average or better. I don’t see how that can be construed as a slight.

      Which guy who is orange, red, or yellow do you think deserves better?

      • Rene Martinez

        They updated their chart with new colors since the original post.

      • Jeremie Thomas

        Matt Shawnessy and Frosty Rucker deserve better

        • jtruff

          Matt Shaughnessy earned his grade by being the worst pass rushing 3-4
          Outside Linebacker in the NFL last year. He was asked to rush the
          passer 340 times last year and successfully got to the QB only 6.2% of
          the time. No one had less who played 50% of their team’s snaps. He was
          a solid tackler but still graded out below average 14 times in 16

          Frostee Rucker was ok last year, though he didn’t play
          much. I think his grade is more based on his track record before
          arriving in Arizona. In Cleveland in 2012 he was awful. Maybe he’s
          turned into “average” now but I suspect the PFF folks would like to see a
          bigger sample than 364 snaps as a rotational player before they promote
          christen him an average starter.

          • Jesse Reynolds

            Wasn’t Shaughnessy rated very well against the run though?

          • Bill Doerr

            Shaugnessy ranked as the 6th best run stopping OLB in the NFL . He was a major part of their #1 ranked rush defense and is not one of the worst in the league. Abraham ranked as the 12th overall 3-4OLB in the NFL overall with 11.5 sacks, making the pro bowl, and is showing no signs of slowdown.

            Arizona gets two OLBs back off of IR. Sam Acho is excellent in coverage ranking as the 2nd best pass covering OLB n the NFL in 2012 his last full season, he was injured in week 3 in 2013. Acho is very close to putting it all together and having a breakout year as a pass rusher. This season he ends up with 8-10 sacks id bet in Bowles system. I am extremely, extremely excited to get OLB Alex Okafor who was projected to
            Go at the end of round ond to early in round 2 in 2013. He turns the edge with a lightning quick 1st step. He also has advanced repertoire of pass rush moves n very violent hands. He is going to be an excellent 10+ sack pass rusher next year. Shaugnessywill likely play the run, while Acho will come in on pass rushing downs. Arizona is set at OLB.

            Up front Arizona has an elite defensive line in every sense of the word, and the front end of a defense and back end of a defense work in unicin (together), Arizonas pass rush should force a lot of QBs into bad throws that get picked off by Arizonas secondary which is elite inevery sense of the word.

            Upfront they have Calais Campbell, Big Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, with rotational players Alameda Ta’Amu who is a force & Frostee Rucker who is a menance in the backfield. Where their really got a lot better was in the draft picking up very dynamic, explosive pass rusher in 6″6 280 pound Kareem Martin , who has length for days with 35.5 inch arms and his combine best among defensive linemen 10 foot 9inch broad jump & 36 inch vertical jump shows just how explosive he is. With 4.71 speed , paired up with 6″8 Calais Campbell flying off the edge, he has a TON of potemtial.

            With Arizonas elite secondary , that got a whole lot better over the off season, With a massively improved offensive line which means the NFLs 6th highest ranked QB grade from a clean pocket (+22.7), Palmer had one of the NFLs worst O-lines last year and now has a far , far superior O-line in 2014.Arizona added 2 vertical threats with elite speed to their elite WR unit, speedster rookie burner WR John Brown is going to be special and Palmer now has an excellent TE unit of receiving TEs, 3 are extremely good blocking TEs which make the offensive line even better, not even mentioning Andre Ellington, Palmer will be a whole lot better protected next season and have an updance of offensive weapons at his disposal, and they wont be suffering through growing pains, they will be sharp from week one. Arizona offense is going to be vastly, vastly improved this season and its not like they sucked lastyear, ranking 12th overall with the 8th overall passing offense. The offense should be vastly improved with an elite defense at their back.

  • PFF_RolandB

    A few notes: Teddy Williams tweeted he will be moving back to DB given the numbers game at WR (apparently played there earlier in his career). Cardinals also said the Alexander will be moving to ILB, again because of the numbers at OLB. I realize we are keeping a consistent format, but I’ve never heard of Robert Hughes, and AZ doesn’t have a dedicated fullback. The buzz on Massie was that he makes a lot of mental mistakes, and thus has been stuck farther down the roster.

    • PFF_Neil

      Thanks Roland. I’ve amended as appropriate and also removed Ryan Williams who was released yesterday.

  • PFF_RolandB

    As of right now, Sowell is the starting RT, for better or worse.

  • Don Davis

    Fitzgerald should be in blue

    • ThinkerT

      No he shouldn’t. He hasn’t had an elite season in some time now, and while he may have some valid excuses for that (poor QBs, injury) he’s running out of them.

  • Andrew Maples

    I really enjoyed the article but man there is a lot of typo’s!!

    • PFF_Neil

      If you can share them that would be useful.

      • alex

        this year there is are Karlos Dansby’s waiting as a free agents to bail them out.

  • Jesse Reynolds

    Hey Neil, what about adding special teamers like Justin Bethel? Maybe each depth chart could have one or two “gunners” or whatever name we can give special teamers outside of kickers, punters and long snappers. I know outside of Bethel, Arizona struggled, but teams like Seattle appeared to have several guys it would be nice to see a comparison across the league.

    • Jesse Reynolds

      Also, during games could we get each teams respective roster depth chart image compared side-by-side to the team they are playing? It would be nice to easily see match ups based on PFFs charts.

      • Jesse Reynolds

        Okay, last request! Can we get offensive, defensive and special teams breakdowns of % of talent that is average and above?

        • PFF_Neil

          I can see the value in that and it may be possible within the current process. I’ll need to give it some thought but to set expectations it won’t happen at least until this series completes.

      • PFF_Neil

        I do like that idea so when we get an opportunity I’d like to try and do the depth charts much more programatically. Using the current system of Excel spreadsheets means an awful lot of double entry etc. and we simply don’t have the time for that additional work. This process flaw also causes problems for our colour-blind readers I’d like to resolve. When we can free up some IT resource I’d like to give it a shot but will need to prioritize as we have a ton of new stuff for 2014 going on behind the scenes.

    • PFF_Neil

      I did try that but got shouted down as it was considered “cherry picking”. I still see both points of view though and maybe we can try a Special Teams depth chart at some stage. [Khaled will tell me the site won’t cope with the additional 17 hits]

  • David

    Time to redo the depth chart without Daryl Washington.

  • Bill Doerr

    In what world is Patrick Peterson & Larry Fitzgerald not elite??? I could make a sound case for Peterson being the NFLs best CB. FS/CB Mathieu ranked statistically as the 3rd best CB in the NFL via this web site. Mathieu definitely has elite cover skills. NFL Dot Com just ranked Antonio Cromartie the 8th best shutdown CB in the NFL & Peterson #2 but Cromartie is just average & Peterson just high quality???? Righttttt…. Matt Shaughnessy is the 5th best OLB against the run in theNFL, and even though it might not transfer to sacks or stats, he lives in the backfield and is a menance rushing the passer. He is below average?? Fitzgerald n Floyd are considered to be one of fhe NFLs best WR Duos , Floyd is quickly becoming a eliteWR n Fitz has never lost anythng but they are just good wide receivers???

    I am not renewing my membership and will give this website NO MORE of my money. These lists are extremely bias, this seems written by a 49er or Rams fan. Its ridiculous & an outright sham & it becomes obvious when Peterson isnt ranked as a elite player. Guy is arguably the NFLs best CB but is without arguement a top 3CB & he is not elite??? Yea right , these bias rankings are a joke. I bet if Fitzgerald or Peterson were traded to SF all of the sudden theyd be ranked elite.

    • Cptjesus

      Thank god, maybe your inane rants will leave with the money. The NFL’s best corner wouldn’t be roasted by a sophomore slot receiver, even if Kendall Wright is above average as a player in that respect. Also, the word you’re looking for is biasED, as in, “Anyone who thinks that every single player on the third place team in a division last year deserves to be graded as high quality or elite must be incredibly biased in favor of said third place team.”

      Oh, and to mention the NFL.com rankings of ANYTHING is hilarious. Who did they ask to rank the corners in the league, the fans, or a bunch of retired has beens that haven’t done any film study or gameplan building in 5+ years? Dying to know. Cromartie’s performance at corner makes the market performance of Zynga look stable.