With organized team activities and minicamp completed for the offseason, the next time the Arizona Cardinals take the field it'll be for their conditioning tests before training camp in July. During the past nine weeks, 90 players -- some of who came and went -- put their resumes on tape, as head coach Bruce Arians likes to call it. But only 53 of those -- and possibly, and likely, a few new faces -- will be able to don a Cards' jersey on "Monday Night Football" in Week 1.
Going off of what I saw during the past two months, I have put together my best prediction of a 53-man roster. As I was doing so, I saw how easy it was for Arians and general manager Steve Keim to say the final few roster spots are fluid. My first list had 45 players on it, obviously eight short of the maximum, and I left guys such as linebackers Marcus Benard and Ernie Sims off that initial roster because their futures aren't as set in stone as Matt Shaughnessy's or Sam Acho's. I even left tight Rob Housler off the first rendition because of a comment Arians made Thursday about having more tight ends "that can actually play" than they can keep, and to me, Housler would be the first tight end let go.
Adding the final eight spots wasn't easy. I had 13 possibilities for those final eight roster openings. I'll let you know who the final eight were at the end of this story.
Here's my 53-man roster after OTAs and minicamp:
* indicates predicted starter
Running back (4)
Wide Receiver (5)
Offensive line (8)
Tight end (4)
Troy Niklas (injured)
Defensive line (7)
Alameda Ta'amu (injured)
Outside Linebacker (5)
Inside Linebacker (4)
Tyrann Mathieu (injured)
Long snapper (1)
Picking the final eight positions wasn't an easy task, especially when it came to rounding out the offensive line. The eight I added were LB Marcus Benard, TE Rob Housler, RB Robert Hughes, G/C Ted Larsen, T/G Nate Potter, WR Walt Powell, QB Logan Thomas and CB Teddy Williams.
Some of those may have seemed like obvious picks for the initial roster, but adding two tight ends this offseason showed me Arians isn't as high on Housler as he was last year. Hughes has been praised often by Arians, but there were still other running back options that had to be looked it. Thomas may have been the easiest decision of the 13 finalists, however.
When it came time to pick the offensive line, finding players who were versatile was important, which is why Larsen and Potter made the cut. Potter may never see a snap this season but he'll be an able-bodied backup just in case. As you can see, I didn't have Paul Fanaika on the roster because if Watford wins the job, which I think he will, the Cards don't need a backup guard when they have two other players who can fill the role, at least temporarily. I could also be very wrong here and Fanaika could win the job -- throwing the roster into a slight jumble.
Well, that's that. My 53-man roster projection. I think some of it will hold true on cut down in late August but there'll be surprises -- there always are.