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Projecting 2016 Arizona Cardinals Defense

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We know that the offense put up some amazing numbers last season--but let's not forget about the defense shall we?

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

There's an awful lot of talk in the offseason. It's easy to do--I see memes all the time that show someone counting down the days until football season.

Since no one is playing, we have to talk about it. Or watch games from last year. And wonder.

But there's no denying the sense of optimism coming from the Arizona Cardinals organization.

All or Nothing is coming out in just a few days. Even casual football fans can see what we as Cardinals fan saw all of last season. And I've seen lots of graphics with eye popping numbers from the offense.

Give credit where it's due--Carson Palmer had a career year. The Cardinals have arguably a top-3 receiving corp. They have, maybe for the first time ever, 3 really good running backs, each playing their own part.

But what about the defense?

Let's not forget that shall we. For all the stats I've seen about Arizona's offense, here's on that coming courtesy of NFL.com and Bucky Brooks (who has a great podcast by the way...) about the defense:

With Tyrann Mathieu: 12-2 record with per-game marks of 19.2 points allowed, 329.6 yards allowed, 86.7 rushing yards allowed, 242.9 passing yards allowed, 2.1 takeaways and a 34.8 percent third-down conversion rate.

Without Tyrann Mathieu: 2-2 record (including two playoff games) with per-game marks of 28.2 points allowed, 348.5 yards allowed, 133.3 rushing yards allowed, 215.3 passing yards allowed, 1.5 takeaways and a 45.9 percent third-down conversion rate.

(per NFL.com)

Now, it's just 4 games, and yes it was at the end of the season, but that's a fairly big shift. I should also take into account the blowout/pouring on by Carolina has skewed those numbers.

My point being, as we see the NFL Network Top 100 coming out, there are lots of Cardinals on that list. And there's a reason Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson are on it (although I think Deone Bucannonhas some good reasons to be on it too).

Now, for my own personal starting projection for the defense:

DT: Calais Campbell

NT: Rodney Gunter

DT: Robert Nkemdiche

Analysis: The first two are simple. I think Nkimdiche ends up listed as a starter, but really ends up playing closer to 30 snaps a game in a rotation with guys like Josh MauroCorey PetersEd Stinson andFrostee Rucker (If they all make the team). The defensive line depth is there, and this will keep Nkemdiche fresh. Which is great if you're a Cardinals fan. Not so much for opposing offensive lineman.

OLB: Chandler Jones

ILB: Deone Bucannon

ILB: Kevin Minter

OLB: Markus Golden

Analysis: This was actually easy--most of you guys know who the starters will be, and barring injury or really bad performance, I don't see this changing.

CB: Patrick Peterson

S: Tryann Mathieu

S: Tony Jefferson

CB: Justin Bethel

Analysis: I think too much is being made out of the lack of depth at the opposite corner position. Yes, Bethel will have to guard guys one on one some, but Mathieu will also play some corner and Tyvon Branch even might as well. Bethel has several games under his belt--he will be fine, even if he will get picked on at times. What will be interesting to watch about this group is all the depth at the position. I mentioned Branch already and they have a guy like DJ Swearinger who was a starter at times late last season and held up just fine. They got faster in the secondary (a big offseason goal), and as long as the Honey Badger stays healthy, this unit should be a top-5 unit in the NFL.

So what are your thought about Arizona's defense? Any bold predictions?