The Arizona Cardinals have been working hard to improve weak spots on their roster. There is still a lot of work to be done, but progress has been made. With Patrick Peterson leaving for Minnesota and Larry Fitzgerald not on an NFL roster right now, the Cardinals the challenge of replacing franchise icons. Arizona will look to compete in what many feel is the toughest division in football.
The Air Raid works
Kyler Murray knows the offense inside and out, and having Deandre Hopkins is a huge plus. Drafting Rondale Moore from Purdue in the second round was a steal with the speed and versatility he brings. This also puts former second round pick Andy Isabella and former third round pick Christian Kirk on blast. The signing of an old and run down AJ Green was a questionable decision. There is no real plan at tight end with Maxx Williams being the option and letting Dan Arnold go to Carolina. If Arizona was able to get Kyle Pitts or another playmaking tight end, this offense would be taken to the next level.
Trading for Rodney Hudson from the Raiders upgrades the center spot. Drafting Penn State’s Michal Menet will offer a backup waiting in the wings. Backup left tackle and former third round pick from Houston Josh Jones and backup left guard Koda Martin could be ready to take over if protecting Murray goes awry. They may also be better suited for this type of college style offense. It could only be a matter of time.
Defense, defense, defense
This is where Arizona needs to make their money if they want to be successful moving forward. Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins together? That is an amazing dynamic duo for inside linebackers for what will be a 3-4 defense. A first round pick from Tulsa, Collins will pair with the former first round pick from Clemson. This may be the best young inside backer duo in the league.
If Chandler Jones can be dominate on the edge like he was before his injury, he and Markus Golden could provide quite the pass rush. Rashard Lawrence will look to anchor the defensive line like he did with the LSU national championship team. Lawrence has Zach Allen is flanking his right and newcomer JJ Watt on his left.
Other draft picks
Sixth round rookie Victor Dimukeje from Duke will fight to compete as a rotational or sub package defensive end. The secondary is where things get a little suspect. Malcom Butler just doesn’t fit. He failed as number one corner in Tennessee and isn’t disciplined on routes with double moves. Byron Murphy had been lining up with Patrick Paterson. We we aren’t sure if he’s ready to be a fulltime top corner.
Free safety Budda Baker coordinating the secondary from the back end and his speed will help shut down deep passes. Jalen Thompson is the real outlier as the strong safety with no sacks to his name as he enters year three. Seeing seeing how a strong safety is basically linebacker in certain situations, that is peculiar.
Rookie corners Marco Wilson and Tay Gowman from Florida and Central Florida respectively, and rookie safety James Wiggins from Cincinnati will try to break through the lineup and contribute early on. With the defense still somewhat of an anomaly, one thing we know for sure is that Kyler Murray will be dialing up the bombs.
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