Arizona Cardinals: Daniel Arias is one of those guys you root for

California v Colorado
California v Colorado / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

The Arizona Cardinals signed a few intriguing undrafted free agents over the past week, but Daniel Arias might be the most interesting.

Daniel Arias played in 50 games at the University of Colorado between 2018 and 2022, and he logged just 48 career receptions, 750 receiving yards, and four touchdowns. This is by no means the type of production you look for in a player if you’re an NFL general manager, even when you’re seeking to give players a chance as priority free agents. But Arias is someone who makes you pause. 

The 6’4, 220 lb Arias is a speed demon, and he displays the prototypical tools you look for in an NFL receiver. So it’s one of those situations where you look past the lack of production, and instead, consider the what-ifs regarding someone like Arias. 

So why was his production so marginal? One reason is that his college team, the Colorado Buffaloes, experienced a massive turnover at head coach, offensive coordinator, and receiver coach. With such turnover came changes to the system, preventing Arias from growing comfortable during his five seasons in Boulder. 

Arizona Cardinals could make a feel good story out of Daniel Arias

While it’s a longshot for Arias to make the roster as a receiver, especially now that it seems like DeAndre Hopkins is going nowhere, he can stick to the Arizona Cardinals as a special teams ace, and in a way, his collegiate career reflects that of another receiver whose null production at the position still gave him a sound NFL career thanks to his ability to play special teams - Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots

Arias played the “gunner” position while on special teams, the same position as Slater, recording 77 career tackles and 26 forced fair catches. Overall, Arias is the kind of player who rarely got a chance to showcase his college skills thanks to the constant turnover in the coaching staff. 

He could have stopped playing or transferred to a smaller school, but he stuck it out at Colorado. And thanks to his efforts not just as a receiver, but also as a special teamer, he’s getting a chance in the NFL. 

Again, you won’t see Arias earn a spot on the Arizona Cardinals as a position player. But his experience and speed could warrant him a spot to earn a role on special teams. 

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Source: Former CU Buffs receiver Daniel Arias getting opportunity with Arizona Cardinals by Brian Howell,

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