Through a combination of draft picks and free agent signings, the Cardinals receiving corps has the potential for an epic turnaround.
The Arizona Cardinals finished last in team passing yards in 2018, only garnering 2,523. Incredibly, that doesn’t do justice to how poorly the Cardinals performed in that area.
Not only did they finish last, but they also finished with fewer passing yards than any team in the NFL since 2011.
It is hard to pinpoint only one reason the Cardinals struggled so much in this respect. The offensive line was plagued by injuries, every lineman that started during Week 1 of the season ended up injured or released by early December. They had a rookie quarterback under center, Josh Rosen, who never had much of a chance behind the terrible line.
Rosen was sacked 45 times despite only starting in 13 games. Additionally, Rosen threw 14 Interceptions while only adding 11 touchdowns. The Cardinals’ receivers struggled last season as well. The corps was led by a 35-year-old Larry Fitzgerald and rookie wideout, Christian Kirk. Not exactly an ideal scenario.
Former offensive coordinator Mike McCoy can be considered a major factor as well. McCoy struggled to add life to the Arizona offense and as a result, the team struggled in the first half of the season before firing him. With McCoy out and Kliff Kingsbury calling the plays in Arizona next season, expect to see a trend that includes more pass attempts in a high-paced offense.
Thankfully for the Cardinals, the 2019 iteration of their offense looks much different. Starting in free agency, the Cardinals signed J.R. Sweezy and Max Garcia to bolster the interior of their offensive line. Some of the players who were injured along the line last season should be back to protect rookie quarterback Kyler Murray as well. Speaking of Murray, his addition paired with Kingsbury and his Air Raid offense should allow the Cardinals to substantially increase their passing yardage.
As far as the receiving corps goes, they added Kevin White, a top 10 pick in 2015 who has struggled with injuries thus far in his career. If White can stay on the field, he could be a valuable addition to the receiving corps. The Cardinals also drafted three receivers including Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, and Keesean Johnson. All three receivers now have the opportunity to come in and learn under future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald, and develop alongside Murray in Kingsbury’s new offense.
Isabella led all FBS receivers in receiving yards last season at UMass last season and provided 13 touchdowns as well. His speed and route-running prowess should compliment Murray’s skills nicely. Butler is a bigger receiver who displays the ability to win the ball one on one against defensive backs.
Johnson finished eighth in the nation last season in receiving with 1,340 yards. While he’s the least likely to start of the players drafted, but he could certainly develop into a solid target in the slot for years to come.
Las Vegas currently has the win total for Arizona set at five for the upcoming season. With a solid defense and a revamped offense, that number feels appropriate and reachable. The Cardinals play in a difficult division and their schedule features several difficult opponents as well, but they should be around five wins and flash signs of potential for the future.