Emari Demercado proving he can handle an expanded role in Arizona Cardinals offense

Undrafted rookie Emari Demercado hasn’t been lights out, but he has played well so far this season as the RB1 in the Arizona Cardinals offense.
Baltimore Ravens v Arizona Cardinals
Baltimore Ravens v Arizona Cardinals / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

When James Conner went down with a knee injury a few weeks back, the Arizona Cardinals turned to Keaontay Ingram and Emari Demercado to take the reins as the RB1. Demercado won the battle, and has served as the Cards featured back for the previous two weeks, racking up 33 carries for 136 yards, good for 4.1 yards per attempt. 

But even before the last two contests, Demercado showed us he could be an integral part of the Cardinals offense. Overall, he has 49 carries, 195 yards, 4.0 yards per attempt, 10 forced missed tackles, four carries of 10 or more yards, and 2.82 yards per rush after initial contact. 

His PFF Grade sits at a solid 72.7, which places him in 15th place out of 53 qualified running backs. His rushing grade sits at a staggering 84.4, just 1.6 points behind Conner’s, whose grade is 86.0 in the same category, and 85.5 overall. 

Emari Demercado is handling a large workload for the Arizona Cardinals

Demercado has been one of the NFL’s better undrafted free agents this season, and if he stays healthy and keeps up his current pace, he won’t be leaving the desert anytime soon. It seems like we’re writing something about Demercado here at Raising Zona each week, but until he turns in a paltry performance, the rookie will continue to impress us. 

No, his numbers aren’t all-world, but they don’t need to be. Instead, if Demercado keeps putting up consistent performances, then he’s doing his job in the Arizona Cardinals backfield. It’s unclear of what will become of James Conner following the season, but if the Cards go in a different direction, you can expect Demercado to be a part of it if he continues to play well throughout the second half of the season. 


(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference, additional statistics and grades provided by PFF [subscription])