Examining the Arizona Cardinals 2021 running back situation
By Jim Koch
One of the highest-rated players on the NFL’s 2021 list of free agents happens to be an Arizona Cardinals running back. Any organization that’s searching for a talented ball-carrier will likely have interest in Kenyan Drake. The Cards would obviously love to retain the one-time member of the Miami Dolphins, but limited finances could prevent that from happening.
Last fall, Drake rumbled for 955 yards and 10 touchdowns in 15 appearances (13 starts) for Arizona. The 6’1, 211 pounder also added another 159 yards on 25 receptions for the squad. Replacing that type of production could prove to be difficult for the Cardinals front office, but there’s actually an in-house candidate who the organization has a ton of faith in.
Chase Edmonds, the Cards fourth-round draft pick back in 2018, could ultimately be handed a more extensive role in the “Air Raid” offense. “As far as Chase goes, you’ve seen when he’s had his opportunity, he’s played at a starting running back level”, head coach Kliff Kingsbury told a throng of reporters this past Thursday. “We have all the confidence in the world in Chase being the bell-cow if that’s how this plays out.”
The former Fordham University product rushed for 448 yards and a touchdown in 16 games (two starts) for Arizona in 2020. Edmonds has also proven to be an excellent pass-catcher during his time in the desert. Last season, the 24-year old hauled in 53 passes for 402 yards and another four scores as well.
Behind Edmonds on the Cardinals current depth chart are two rookies from last year. Eno Benjamin was a seventh-round selection out of Arizona State University. Jonathan Ward was an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan.
If the Cards are looking for a big-ticket back to pair with Edmonds, there are some impressive free agents to choose from. Included among that group are Aaron Jones, Chris Carson, Leonard Fournette and James Conner. Other less-expensive options include Mike Davis, Todd Gurley, Marlon Mack and Malcolm Brown.