Depth Chart Dumpster Diving – Cardinals Linebackers

Embed from Getty Images


Under the Radar Players with Potential to Breakthrough


Now that the draft is over and most of the free agency movement has ended, we can start to take a closer look at the depth charts around the league for opportunity. Some depth charts have names penciled in because of the lack of talent. Other depth charts may be almost completely blank after the top players. This series takes a closer look at these opportunities and spotlights a few players to watch closely. Some of these players may be worth a deep stash while others may be more appropriate watch list candidates.

Arizona Cardinals

The Starters

Jordan Hicks

The Cardinals are in the midst of transition, including another scheme change on defense. This off-season the Cardinals are transitioning back to a 3-4 defense. One of the Cardinals’ most high profile off-season additions was Jordan Hicks.  Hicks is penciled in at one of the two inside linebacker spots, but he also has a concerning injury history. Another Hicks injury could lead to a huge opportunity in the middle of the Cardinals defense.

Haason Reddick

Haason Reddick figures to get the first shot next to Hicks. Reddick has intriguing athleticism and versatility but has not yet lived up to the first round draft capital investment. If Reddick fails to capitalize on yet another opportunity, one of these under the radar depth guys may get a chance.  The Cardinals offense should be improved from last year, but the increased tempo on offense should lead to a lot of snaps for the defensive unit as well.

Depth Candidates – Dennis Gardeck, Dante Booker, Tanner Vallejo, Zeke Turner, Joe Walker, Pete Robertson

Dennis Gardeck

Height: 6’0″

Weight: 242 lbs

Age: 24 years

Experience: 1 year

2018 PFF grade: 60.0

School: Sioux Falls

Draft Pick: Undrafted

40 time: 4.57 seconds

Three-cone drill: 7.35 seconds

Bench press: 31 reps

Vertical leap: 36.5 inches

Broad jump: 10’6″

Dennis Gardeck is an undrafted player from Sioux Falls entering his second year in the league. Gardeck lead the Cardinals in special teams snaps as a rookie and earned a 60.0 PFF grade on limited defensive snaps. Gardeck’s 240 pound frame is a more ideal fit at inside linebacker than most of the other linebackers on this depth chart. His size, combined with good speed (4.62s 40 yard dash) and explosion numbers, make Gardeck my top player to watch on this depth chart. In the words of Vance Joseph, “I think a guy that’s going to be a real guy is Gardeck.”

Dante Booker

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 240 lbs

Age: 22 years

Experience: Rookie

2018 PFF grade: N/A

School: Ohio State

Draft Pick: Undrafted

40 time: 4.75 seconds

Three-cone drill: 6.94 seconds

Bench press: 23 reps

Vertical leap: 33 inches

Broad jump: 9’11”

Dante Booker is a former five-star recruit who battled injuries at Ohio State and ended up going undrafted. At 6’3″ and 240 pounds, Booker brings legitimate inside linebacker size to go along with solid athleticism. Booker’s speed and explosion testing results do not quite stand up to Gardeck’s. However, his agility scores are better. Dante also has familiarity with the linebackers coach, Bill Davis, from their time together at Ohio State. It is rare for players to succeed in the NFL after lackluster college careers. Robert Foster is recent proof that it can happen though.

Tanner Vallejo

Height: 6’1″

Weight: 228 lbs

Age: 24 years

Experience: 2 years

2018 PFF grade: 42.4

School: Boise State

Draft Pick: 6.11

40 time: 4.67 seconds

Three-cone drill: 7.08 seconds

Bench press:  19 reps

Vertical leap: 33.5 inches

Broad jump: 10’1″

Vallejo got some playing time on an injury depleted Browns’ defense in 2018 and showed some flashes but really struggled in coverage. He showed coverage ability in college, so he may just need some continuity to put it all together. Vallejo is also a good special teams contributor.

Zeke Turner

Height: 6’1″

Weight: 212 lbs

Age: 22 years

Experience: 1 year

2018 PFF grade: 62.8

School: Washington

Draft Pick: Undrafted

40 time: 4.65 seconds

Three-cone drill: 6.95 seconds

Bench press: 19 reps

Vertical leap: 30.5 inches

Broad jump: 9’5″

Zeke Turner is an undrafted safety from the University of Washington that has added some weight and converted to the linebacker position. Turner was a key contributor on the Cardinals special teams units last year as a rookie and earned a 62.8 PFF grade in limited defensive snaps as a rookie. Zeke lead the Cardinals in special teams tackles last year. Despite being a converted safety, Turner is a below average athlete but should bring some natural coverage skills.

Joe Walker

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 236 lbs

Age: 26 years

Experience: 2 years

2018 PFF grade: 60.0

School: Oregon

Draft Pick: 7.30

40 time: 4.60 seconds

Three-cone drill: 6.86 seconds

Bench press:  23 reps

Vertical leap: 37 inches

Broad jump: 10’4″

Joe Walker was bumped off the Eagles’ active roster in favor of special teams ace DJ Alexander. The Cardinals scooped up Walker after Gardeck suffered an ankle injury last year. Walker was mostly a depth linebacker and special teams contributor in Philadelphia.

Pete Robertson

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 233 lbs

Age: 26 years

Experience: 3 years

2018 PFF grade:

School: Texas Tech

Draft Pick: Undrafted

40 time: 5.17 seconds

Three-cone drill: 7.38 seconds

Bench press:  21 reps

Vertical leap:  28.5 inches

Broad jump: 8’11”

Robertson’s athletic numbers do not look appealing, but he does bring versatility. He can play the inside and outside linebacker position and is a solid blitzer. Robertson played for new head coach Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech which may work in his favor.

Conclusion

These guys are listed in the order of intrigue I see with them. I will be watching Gardeck closest in training camp and preseason activities. Reddick will also be intriguing to watch as he tries to hold down his starting spot.

I’ll try to keep this article updated with any major news or updates. Also follow my twitter @ONUtyjo and the @IDPGuys twitter and podcast for more updates. Find more of my writing here.

Facebook Comments

Former college football player, team leader in personal fouls for two straight seasons. Work as an engineer when I'm not engulfed in fantasy football. Follow me on twitter @ONUtyjo to talk anything fantasy football related: IDP, dynasty, contract leagues, superflex, devy, etc.