The Arizona Cardinals have not been very good at running the football for several years. Even in a season where they made an improbable Super Bowl run and nearly won it all, the Cardinals were ranked 32nd in rushing. The Cardinals ineptitude on the ground showed signs of promise with the combination of Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower, but they are both no longer on the roster. The Cardinals were once again ranked last in rushing last season.
There are currently six running backs on the Cards roster, including two rookies. They will likely cut down to three or four, so who will they be?
Rashard Mendenhall will certainly make the 53 man roster. He will also most likely be the starter. The former Pittsburgh Steeler was acquired through free agency by the Cards. He has suffered from injuries recently, but as a Cardinal, he is seeking to revive his career in the NFL.
Ryan Williams was a 2nd round pick in 2011. He missed all of his rookie season with an injury. He came back last season and showed he had potential, but went down again with a shoulder injury. Williams will likely stay, but he will need to earn his playing time with the competition around him.
The two rookies, Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor, were fourth and fifth round picks in 2013, respectively. Both of them have the potential to become very useful pieces for the Cards. They will most likely be competing with Williams for playing time.
It’s conceivable that the Cardinals may go with five running backs or only hold on to one of the rookies. If either of those events or anything else unexpected occurs, William Powell will likely be held on to. Powell showed flashes of talent last season, and certainly demonstrated a desire to show what he could do.
Overall, the Cardinals will likely keep Mendenhall, Williams, Ellington, and Taylor and release Powell and Alfonso Smith. The revived veteran, the talented but injury prone prospect, and the two fresh rookies may be just the slate of running backs the Cardinals need to improve their rushing numbers.