The wide receiver corps could be an issue for the Arizona Cardinals in 2017
A lot went wrong in 2016 for the Arizona Cardinals. The combination of problems led to a disappointing 7-8-1 record. For a team that was a potential Super Bowl contender, missing the playoffs altogether was a disaster.
The Cardinals made plenty of changes this offseason, in an effort to rebound. Hopes are again high, and they feel like they improved at some important positions. One area that could be a hang up, however, is the wide receivers.
Last year, injuries and off the field issues robbed the team of valuable depth at receiver. John Brown, Jaron Brown, and Malcolm Floyd all figured to be key parts of the offense. All three, for various reasons, missed parts of the season.
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There were a number of people who thought they could address the receiver spot, either in free agency, or with a very early draft pick. They did neither, and go into 2017 with a unit that is nearly the same as a year ago. That might come back to haunt them.
Larry Fitzgerald is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, and one of the greatest of all time. He’ll be 34 before the season starts, though, and evidence says he’s slowing down. He did have 107 receptions last season, but had a career low in yards per catch. His longest reception was 33 yards, also a career low. He’ll still be a factor, but he’s not the player he once was.
The team used a third round pick on Chad Williams, who has loads of athletic potential. Rookies receivers don’t always thrive, though, and he’s a question mark at best.
John Brown was a budding star a few years ago, but things haven’t been the same since. Last year, he dealt with health issues that greatly slowed him down. He’s been hampered by injury this offseason as well.
Jaron Brown has the tools that the Cardinals like, but so far, his career hasn’t taken off. In four seasons, he’s totaled just 55 receptions for 700.
JJ Nelson is a fan favorite, and an exciting player on the field. However, his size limits his impact, and counting on him to be an every day second receiver is a bit much.
Also fighting for playing time are guys like Brittan Golden, Jeremy Ross, Aaron Dobson, and others with little experience. There is talent, but a lack of proven production.
Head coach Bruce Arians recognizes the danger. He recently said, ” I must’ve been seeing things back in the spring when I said we had had 12 guys who could play in the NFL. We might have two.”
The Cardinals see themselves as contenders in 2017. They are certainly talented, and are strong overall at most positions. But if the receiving corps is unable to stay healthy, or can’t produce, the offense will take a huge it. That could leave them on the outside of the playoffs looking in again.