It's crazy to believe that two seasons ago, our tackle spots were the weakest positions on a very weak offensive line. Levi Brown was called elite by Bruce Arians, and ultimately traded during the season. Bradley Sowell took over, and was just as weak as Brown.
Eric Winston was a late offseason addition, and manned the right side of the line, beating out Bobby Massie at the time. He had his shares of ups and downs, but ultimately was not retained by the team going into 2014.
Last seasons starters will more than likely be this seasons starters, but the depth behind them, is likely to change. So without further ado, let us meet the tackles of 2015.
An UDFA in 2011, Bradfield logged three full seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a Right Tackle, playing in 39 games and starting 25 of them. He played in 2 games in 2014, but was cut after Week 2 following an abysmal performance. The Cardinals had a try out with him on September 19th, but signed with the Falcons 11 days later. He did not play a game with the Falcons, and was cut in November. Bradfield would have been a candidate to make the roster if DJ Humphries had not been drafted.
One of the teams Undrafted signings, Crisp has the tools to be a left tackle in the NFL. However, teams are concerned about his durability. One of the top tackles in the 2010 recruiting class, Crips earned the starting role at NC State in 2012, but a broken tailbone he suffered in the season opener, limited him all season. He returned in 2013, but a concussion in the second game ended his season prematurely. He was granted a medical redshirt waiver, and played all of 2014 healthy. Crisp did play two games as a right tackle in his college career, giving him the versatility BA likes. He's a Practice Squad candidate now, but if he can improve and show that his health concerns are in the past, Crisp could very well challenge for a roster spot in 2016.
The Cardinals 2015 first round pick has his work cut out in 2015. He was graded to be the 21st ranked prospect, and fourth ranked tackle by CBS draft analyst Dane Brugler. Humphries played in 29 games during his time at Florida. He played in all 12 games his freshman year, accumulating three starts. In 2013, his sophomore season, he played in seven games, earning six starts, before a knee injury sidelined him. His senior season he played in, and started 12 games. He however missed two games.After being told by the Draft Advisory committee to stay in school, but his choice to go in early paid off for him.
Humphries has to battle Bobby Massie to earn the starting job, and as of today, his hill is steep. It's likely he won't start until 2016, while he works for playing time in 2015.
The fourth round pick in Ken Whisenhunts last draft class showed promise his rookie year. After his first eight games being abysmal, there was a sharp turn around following the teams bye week, and he played with lots of potential down the stretch. He took time to adjust to Bruce Arians zone blocking scheme however, opening the door for Eric Winston to start. Massie gradually earned playing time as the season progressed, and ultimately earned the starting job in 2014. He had his ups and downs, and was partly at fault for the knee injury to Carson Palmer against the Rams. He seems entrenched as the starter as Minicamp opens, but Humphries lingers in the background as the potential starter in 2015.
The starter at left tackle in 2013, Sowell beat out Nate Potter last year as the backup tackle. This year he looks to do it again. He has the versatility to play both left and right tackle, which is something Bruce Arians looks for. However, Rob Crisp has the versatility as well, and had he not have a history of injuries, could have very well been an early draft pick. It will be interesting to see if Arians goes with the trusty veteran, or take a shot on a young player with health concerns.
The "Hulk" was the Cardinals top signing in Free Agency in 2014. He struggled a little bit out of the gate, but settled down, and was a force at the left tackle position. At 27, it appears he has the job locked down for several more years, and with the addition of Mike Iupati this offseason, the left side of the line will be a force to be reckoned with.
With only the Guards and the Centers to be covered, the offensive side of the football is coming to a close this week, and we can examine the defensive players next week.