Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is content to head into the upcoming campaign with a plethora of rookie players
In years past, the Arizona Cardinals have employed head coaches who have shied away from rookies. Stocking the roster with experienced performers became the norm for a fair number of the team’s on-field leaders. Take one look at the current club, however, and you’ll quickly realize that Kliff Kingsbury has a different philosophy on the subject.
Arizona has apparently decided that there’s a place for youthful players in the desert. The new coaching staff will enter the 2019 campaign with an eye-popping 12 first-year youngsters on their squad. It can certainly be argued that pro football is a young man’s sport, but can the Cards seriously expect to have success with that many unknowns in their locker room?
The poster child of that group is none other than Kyler Murray, the first-overall pick of the NFL Draft. Kingsbury has handed the keys to his offense to the headline-grabbing quarterback, who just turned 22 on August 7th. Any playoff hopes that the Cardinals may have this year rest squarely on the shoulders of the diminutive Murray.
Byron Murphy, the first of Arizona’s two second-round selections, will also be in the limelight from the get-go. The early-season absences of Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford will provide the highly-touted cornerback with a golden opportunity to prove his worth. The Cards were probably hoping to work Murphy in slowly, but the rookie will be immediately thrown to the wolves instead.
The Cardinals third-round draft choice will also play a significant role early on. Defensive end Zach Allen had an impressive training camp, and the franchise is hoping for more of the same from the 22-year old this fall. The release of free agent pickup Darius Philon last month opened the door for the former Boston College Eagle.
Arizona addressed a need at the wide receiver position by drafting three pass-catchers this past April. Sixth-round pick KeeSean Johnson appears to be the best one of the trio, and will likely flourish in Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” system. Second-rounder Andy Isabella will also be utilized, but fourth-round selection Hakeem Butler will been sidelined for all of ’19 with a broken finger.
Two of the Cards backup safeties are also first-year professionals. Deionte Thompson is a fifth-round choice out of the University of Alabama. Jalen Thompson, a 21-year old from Washington State University, was taken during the supplemental draft in July.
Center Lamont Gaillard, offensive tackle Joshua Miles, defensive end Michael Dogbe and offensive tackle Brett Toth round out the Cardinals rookie class. Kingsbury and his assistants have peppered the roster with kids who are wet behind the ears. If they fulfill their potential, the organization will be in fine shape for years to come.