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Arizona Cardinals Projected 2021 Starters

With just days until the start of the 2021 NFL season, the Cardinals depth chart is close to complete.

With less than a week until the Cardinals open the 2021 season against the Titans, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said the depth chart is mostly solid. 

Here are the projected starters based on Arizona's most recent depth chart from the preseason, observations during the open portions of practice, press conferences and preseason games:

Offense

Projected Starters Offense

PositionPlayer

X

DeAndre Hopkins

Y

Christian Kirk

LT

D.J. Humphries

LG

Justin Pugh

Rodney Hudson

RG

Brian Winters/Justin Murray/Josh Jones

RT

Kelvin Beachum

TE

Maxx Williams

Z

A.J. Green

QB

Kyler Murray

RB

Chase Edmonds

The Cardinals will run plenty of 10 personnel on offense, as they led the league in such formations last year. 

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Rookie wide receiver Rondale Moore would come in and line up in the slot in four-receiver sets. Even in standard packages, Moore will likely see the field a lot due to his versatility, which includes the intermediate passing game, something Arizona struggled with in 2020, and jet sweeps.

When the Cardinals run 12 personnel, Darrell Daniels could see the field with Williams at tight end. 

Running back James Conner will get his share of touches behind Edmonds. Conner profiles as a powerful third-down and goal-line runner who could push through holes the Cardinals struggled with last year. He and Edmonds could be a 1A-1B tandem. 

The right guard spot was the most uncertain in the lineup, but head coach Kliff Kingsbury revealed Tuesday that Josh Jones would start.

Jones got most of the snaps with the first team during camp due to injuries to the two veterans, and the youngster played quite well in his preseason run. 

But, Murray is the returning starter and the Cardinals signed Winters for his physicality, although penalties have been an issue for him. It will be interesting to see if there might be a job-share at the beginning of the season, especially considering the practice time Winters and Murray missed during training camp. 

Defense

Projected Starters Defense

PositionPlayer

DE

J.J. Watt

NT

Rashard Lawrence

DT

Leki Fotu

OLB

Chandler Jones

ILB

Zaven Collins

ILB

Isaiah Simmons

OLB

Markus Golden

CB

Robert Alford

CB

Byron Murphy Jr. 

S

Budda Baker

S

Jalen Thompson

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Since cornerback Malcolm Butler retired, the Cardinals will need rookie Marco Wilson to step up in three-cornerback packages. Kingsbury likes him on the inside and outside. Murphy also has that versatility. 

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The Cardinals will likely rotate up front, as the plan is to play Watt fewer snaps than he did last year in Houston. Zach Allen would fill in at defensive end. 

Second-year defensive tackle Leki Fotu will see extra snaps with veteran Jordan Phillips on reserve/injured for at least the first three weeks. 

The Cardinals expect Simmons to play multiple positions this year, and they can put veteran Jordan Hicks in the game at inside linebacker when Simmons does. They ran plays during the preseason with Hicks and Collins together on the inside and Simmons on the outside.

On the edge, the Cardinals mixed up their looks and got more players involved than anticipated last season with Chandler Jones out, most notably Dennis Gardeck. 

Kingsbury mentioned Monday that Gardeck's packages will expand once he returns to form, as he is working back from a torn ACL suffered in Week 15 last year. 

Rookie Victor Dimukeje and veteran Devon Kennard also provide depth on the edge. 

Special Teams

Projected Starters Special Teams

PositionPlayer

K

Matt Prater

P

Andy Lee

LS

Aaron Brewer

H

Andy Lee

KR

Eno Benjamin 

PR

Rondale Moore

The Cardinals have not committed to a returner. 

Kingsbury said he wanted to see how Moore's role on the offense plays out first, but the rookie's ability to return punts may be too strong to leave aside. 

Benjamin would be the alternative on kickoff returns, as he had a strong preseason doing so, but Moore could take over as the full-time returner at some point.

The team's depth chart lists Benjamin and Moore as the kickoff returners, but has Kirk as the punt returner and Moore second.

Coverage teams will rely on key returning members like Charles Washington, Gardeck, Zeke Turner, Jonathan Ward and Tanner Vallejo. Losing Trent Sherfield this offseason opened a hole at gunner, so Week 1 will be telling as to who will fill that spot.