Jun. 11, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA: Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall during mini camp at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals: Predicting Which Running Backs Will Make the Roster

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.

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  • Bill Doerr

    Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington were two of the top rated RBs n the draft , Taylor 5th and Ellington 7th. Taylor was a top 3 rated power back and Ellington was one of the top speed backs in the draft. Stepfan Taylor is Stanfords All-Time leading Rusher holding the rushing yards record (4300+) , TDs (45) , YPC 5.1 , Most consecutive 1k+YD Season’s (3) . He was the rose bowl MVP a first team all American and first team all-pac 12. Andre Ellington is Clemson’s 3rd All-Time leading rusher behind C.J Spiller who he took over for , he is also a first team all-American and first team All-ACC. Both are very talented top tier talented RBs , they aren’t going n e where. Taylor also is a exceptional Pass Blocker.
    Rashard Mendenhall sat out his rookie year in 2008, but in 2009 and 2010 he ran over 1,000+ yards and was on par in 2011 to do it again with 982 before his season ending ACL injury. He sat out all last year basically w/his knee injury . He is not injury prone at all , he has had one season ending injury in the NFL. Up until that time he was looked at as one of the NFLs top elite RBs helping his offense to 2 Super Bowl’s and multiple playoff runs. He is a Elite pass blocking RB, he is very talented , 100% healthy n ready to go ( Bruce Arians said a few weeks ago he could played tomorrow ) and has already been named the starting RB by HC BA for the Cardinals. 2011 2nd round pick Ryan Williams was looked at as the best RB in the nation in the 2011 draft , he has a unlucky run of it so far. He has said he is finally running the way he did before his knee injury n is 100% healthy n ready to go , but if he doesn’t prove his worth Taylor will easily pass him up on the depth chart. Mendenhall should easily run over 1k+yds this season again though as BA doesn’t believe in RB by committee , w/ the #2 back getting limited play.
    Either way Arizona has excellent depth at RB from #1-#4 , all having starting talent , Arizona should rather easily have a top 15 rushing offense with the backs they have, especially w/ excellent run blockers LT Levi Brown n LG Jonathan Cooper opening up holes on the left side, Arizona should have a pretty run blocking OL.