The depth chart in May

Posted by Darren Urban on May 16, 2013 – 9:57 am

Trying to figure out the depth chart in the offseason is always a sketchy thing, especially early on in the process. What happens in May can impact where the team is in September, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate with the lineup.

A quick story (and those of you who remember back to 2004, this may ring a bell): In Denny Green’s first offseason after taking over the Cardinals, he came in and made a host of changes right away, which you would expect, one being benching long-time left tackle L.J. Shelton and taking guard Leonard Davis (the same Davis who would later become a Pro Bowl guard in Dallas) and putting him at left tackle because, as Green put it, you can’t take a lineman No. 2 in the draft and pay him left tackle money to be a guard. So they made him a tackle.

That wasn’t unexpected. But at the end of OTAs that summer (in those days, minicamp was first, before OTAs, whereas now minicamp is the last part of the offseason), Green made a big deal about his depth chart. The Cardinals called an impromptu press conference on the final OTA day (most media would not have attended). First, Green called his team together and made a point of announcing his starting lineup heading into training camp — remember, the vets were about to disperse until then. He then did the same in front of the media.

Most spots were as expected. Two moves caught the attention at that point. One was the naming of Quentin Harris as free safety instead of Dexter Jackson. Jackson was coming off a six-interception year in his first season as a Card, but he had some back issues and more importantly, he and Green didn’t see eye to eye at all. Jackson was gone before the season started (and with all due respect to Q, now the team’s director of pro scouting, he was mostly a place-holder, starting the first three games that year before being benched for Ifeanyi Ohalete.) The other big deal at the time was Green naming Emmitt Smith the starting running back, a surprise to everyone (including Emmitt) after Marcel Shipp — now interning as a Cards’ coach — had run first-string the entire offseason until that point.

One move that didn’t bring any attention. Pete Kendall was named starting center.

That was a big deal six weeks later, when Kendall — who again, hadn’t been on the field since that day Green named him a starter — was cut on report day for training camp. Green said it was because the Cards needed a change; It was likely because Green thought Kendall had said something to the NFLPA about breaking rules in OTAs, which led to a league punishment. Whatever the reason, it was a drastic upheaval. (Alex Stepanovich was not Pete Kendall.)

Now, Bruce Arians is not Denny Green. I wouldn’t expect anything like the Kendall situation. But things are in flux. Jonathan Cooper is running second string right now. But yes, I expect him to be the first-string left guard sooner rather than later. Will it be by minicamp? By the start of training camp? By mid-preseason? We’ll see. Is Daryl Washington running second string as a message or because they want Karlos Dansby ready for those first four games? We’ll see. The same goes for other spots (like cornerback. Or outside linebacker). There is a long way to go before September rolls around and games count. One thing to keep in mind: Arians has reiterated a couple of times that he sees “starters” in all his different packages, offense and defense. It gives you a sense of how he views the depth chart.

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23 Responses to “The depth chart in May”

  1. By Kurt on May 16, 2013 | Reply

    Thanks for the Way-Back Machine.
    Karlos will be very crucial to the success of this year’s team. In all likelihood Washington will see jail time and a serious suspension from the NFL front office if any of the allegations prove true.

    Karlos is up to the task.

  2. By D on May 16, 2013 | Reply

    I will be watcing Talley and E. Thompson as backup DE players this summer…

  3. By Rich on May 16, 2013 | Reply


    Just after the draft, I suggested that the Cards might put Cooper at Left Guard and move Colledge to the right side so as not to have two youngsters on the right side. You disagreed at the time. Do you think that may be the reason they have him slotted on the left side?

  4. By Darren Urban on May 16, 2013 | Reply

    Rich —

    RE: Left side

    I think they are moving him because the left guard is expected to pull more, and Cooper is more athletic than Colledge. I do not think it has anything to do with Massie’s experience versus Brown.

  5. By Rich on May 16, 2013 | Reply


    Are they giving Wartford any looks at center?

  6. By Darren Urban on May 16, 2013 | Reply

    Rich —

    RE: Watford

    Not at this point.

  7. By Rio on May 16, 2013 | Reply

    Sendlein the center, i know i did not spell his name corently, but he did not do a good job last year, when he was out the running game pick up.
    they need to find someone to replace him. the guard we just cut fill in for him and did a much better job at center for us.

  8. By ored on May 16, 2013 | Reply

    my thoughts also were that snyder should be given more time at center,at least for this year since the cost was already baked in.i thought he did reasonbly at center and with more playing time would only improve.his was just an unfortunate series of events,new to our system when we needed him most,playing mostly one armed due to injury,and our poor decision to overpay him on a lengthy contract.

    now we get a fresh start all around from gm,coaches,to players and they seem to be better contract choices instead of overreacting when something happens that is unforseen,at least they seem to be trying to have a back-up plan.

  9. By cardsalltheway on May 16, 2013 | Reply

    “Is Daryl Washington running second string as a message or because they want Karlos Dansby ready for those first four games? We’ll see.”

    I don’t know how we’ll ever “see” but I’d say the later. Actually I don’t see why there is a question since Arians doesn’t “sugarcoat” things and “all trust this guy with their life; he’s up-front and honest.”

    D. Wash doesn’t need any mind games.

  10. By Mike Ellingboe on May 16, 2013 | Reply


    “when he was out the running game pick up.”

    It did? By my count we averaged 81.5 yards a game on the ground in the 11 games he played, and 61.4 yards a game in the 5 he missed. Yards per carry dropped from 3.59 to 3.0.

    Rushing TD’s? Seven in the games he played, three when he didn’t (all three coming by way of the Detroit game).

    What did you see that the stat sheet missed?

  11. By Ottis Anderson Fan on May 16, 2013 | Reply

    Darren –

    You said you didn’t expect D-Wash to play much in the preseason anyway (i.e. even if he had not been suspended) before Dansby was signed, therefore suggesting whether D-Wash practiced with the first team or the second (which was my question – i.e. would D-Wash’s replacement get more first team reps possibly leaving D-Wash unprepared when he returned in week 5) was a moot point. I expect you to stick with your answer.


  12. By cards4life93 on May 16, 2013 | Reply

    synder is no longer on the team was cut and signed back with san fran. FYI

  13. By Steve on May 16, 2013 | Reply

    Darren: I remember the Dennis Green era in AZ vividly. I thought he was an excellent evaluator of talent, particularly in regards to the draft but poor in X’s and O’s. I wish Denny had stayed on one more year before being fired because I’m sure he would have drafted Adrian Peterson instead of Levi Brown!

  14. By david on May 16, 2013 | Reply

    BA always had a tight end and its a key variable in running our offense, cards have who?

    Trade a cb for m.lewis, jags

  15. By Mike Ellingboe on May 16, 2013 | Reply


    Outside of Peterson, what CB are we going to give them that will make them trade Lewis?

  16. By david on May 17, 2013 | Reply

    Mike Ellingboe —

    It would have to be a mid draft pick

  17. By John The Draft Guy on May 16, 2013 | Reply


    Why do you think that about Green?

    Is that because Green chose Aaron Rodgers over Antrel Rolle.

    Or was it all these great draft picks;
    JJ Arington
    Eric Green
    Darryl Blackstock
    Elton Brown
    Lance Mitchell
    Laron McCoy
    Matt Leinart
    Leonard Pope
    Gabe Watson
    Brandon Johnson
    Jonathon Lewis
    Todd Watkins

    Meanwhile passing on guys like;
    Haloti Ngata, Andrew Whitworth, Greg Jennings, MJD, Jahri Evans, Elvis Dumervil, Brandon Marshall, Marques Colston, Aaron Rodgers, Frank Gore, Justin Tuck, Trent Cole, and Jay Ratliff.

    Point is Green’s legend is based of his 2004 draft. His next two drafts were bad and put us in a hole. When passing on Rodgers, we had nothing in the way of QBs (we signed a washed up Warner- who was expected to be a backup).
    His greatness of spotting talent is very over rated. For someone so great at spotting talent shouldn’t have taken JJ Arington over Frank Gore or Rolle over Rodgers, or Watson over Evans, Lutui over MJD or Pope over Owens Daniels, or Watson over Dumervil…………. You get the point.

  18. By azfaninwa on May 16, 2013 | Reply

    David I think that is wishful thinking but I love the concept. We have too many CB’s and could use TE depth. Especially one with pass catching ability since Housler hasn’t stayed healthy or broken out yet. Still love the guys potential… as well as Kings well rounded, intelligent, durable game and Dray’s lead blocking ability. 6th round pick is a hilarious question mark. It would be nice to have one more name in the mix…,

  19. By Mike Ellingboe on May 17, 2013 | Reply


    Thank you, I’m tired of hearing how Whisenhunt rode Green’s coattails into the Super Bowl. Even his 2004 draft wasn’t fulfilling it’s potential until he left.

  20. By John The Draft Guy on May 17, 2013 | Reply

    Mike Ellingboe

    Not to mention his insistence to play Leonard Davis at LT, when it was clear he could not do it. (As Dallas showed, he was one of the best guards in football)

    Green’s 2004 season is one of legend though. Signing Bertrand Berry, drafting Fitz, Dansby, Dockett and Antonio Smith was great.

    Of course everyone is intitled to a miss like the 4th round taking Alex Stepanovich over Jared Allen. Hindsight is easy.Also Nick Leckey and John Navarre were misses also.

    But as stated above, those 2005 and 2006 drafts were disasters.
    Even his hits were actually bad picks. Antrel Rolle over Demarcus Ware and Aaron Rodgers. Duece Lutui over LT’s Andrew Whitworth and Marcus McNeil and RB MJD.
    Sure Rolle and Lutui had success but how could a talent guru miss like that.

    So for all those Green fans out there, what would the cards look like had Green drafted this way; (and I am not looking at low draft picks or surprises)
    Aaron Rodgers over Rolle
    RBs Gore over Airington
    LT Whitworth over G/T Luiti
    Ngata over Leinart
    TE’s Owen Daniels over Pope
    DL Dumervil over Watson.

    Sure it is easy to look back but in most cases, its guys in the same positions in the same round. Seems like Greens talent board was a little off. His pick of Leinart was set up by his failure to pick a QB the two previous years.

    This guys legend grew over 5 players in 2004 (4 draft picks) and whose to say if we had Big Ben throwing to Boldin wouldn’t have been a better choice. Big Ben does have 3 super bowl appearances and 2 wins.

    Yeah, I’m glad we have Fitz too.

  21. By sbrown on May 17, 2013 | Reply

    @JTDG, agree Denny did hit on his 2004 draft, they were the core of that team Whiz took to the SB. One thing to think about, who else was in the draft room with Denny in 05 and 06 ? that might also have swayed who Denny took. ( poor scouts, owner not wanting to pay players, a GM who does not watch tape on draft picks ??? ) One big difference between Denny staff, BA has real coaches not just family and friends with him. Between Whiz staff and BA, BA has the luxury of having 21 coaches with him to work the roster, three just for the O-line. That’s better than just having Grimm out there by himself.

  22. By Leesters on May 19, 2013 | Reply

    Levi Brown at left tackle scares me. We need to put him on the right side where he kicks tail, and FIND A LEFT TACKLE.

    Thank you. I feel better. 🙂

  23. By cardsalltheway on May 19, 2013 | Reply

    According to the thumbs down in my previous comment fans must believe D. Wash needs mind games. Astonishing!

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