The Arizona Cardinals had the sixth ranked defense overall in 2013 and it was first against the run. Part of that is becaause of the play of the defensive line. The line consisted in starters Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett and Dan Williams, with Alameda Ta'amu and Frostee Rucker as the rotational guys.
In 2014, they return all five of those players, albeit with Ta'amu recovering from ACL surgery. They also drafted Kareem Martin and Ed Stinson.
With that group, SB Nation's Danny Kelly has the Arizona defensive line as one of the league's best. He doesn't rank it as elite or damn good, but he lists the Arizona among the "contenders for the crown."
The Cardinals had one of the best defenses -- maybe the best defense -- in the NFL last year, and their dominance started up front. Campbell, Dockett, Williams, and Abraham hold it down, and are supported by Shaughnessy, Ta'amu and Rucker. I liked their picks in the high-potential Kareem Martin and steady-but-underrated Ed Stinson, both excellent run-defenders in college. Arizona will be very, very difficult to run against in 2014, and their pass-rush is no joke either.
In terms of "defensive line," Kelly also included the outside linebackers of teams that run a 3-4.
The teams listed among the "damn good" and "elite" are on a different level. The Panthers and Rams are those teams. It is really hard to argue them. They have talent and depth.
The Jets, Lions, Broncos, Bills and Ravens make up the next level. Again, hard to argue, as they all are either fantastic inside or have elite pass rushers.
Arizona has John Abraham as a great pass rusher and they have elite run stopping as a unit.
Kelly's assessment is fair. The defensive line is good...if not damn good. But they are definitely contenders. If Kareem Martin shows he can a great disruptor rushing the passer and Stinson continuesto be the run stuffer he was in college, that should take the unit up a notch, at least.
Where would you rate the Arizona defensive line?
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