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Josh Mauro: UDFA to Potential Starter

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The most underrated player on the Cardinals top defense

NFL: NFC Divisional-Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It was not too long ago when former Stanford defensive linemen Josh Mauro was a rookie in the NFL.

Before he became an Arizona Cardinal, he was a priority undrafted free agent that signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cardinals pursued him after the 2014 NFL Draft but failed to bring him to Arizona.

Not surprisingly, he was impressive with the Steelers. Although he had two sacks and productive performances in the 2014 preseason, he did not make the Steelers 53-man roster but did enough to land on their practice squad.

On November 13, 2014, the Arizona Cardinals wish and Josh Mauro’s dream to be on a 53-man NFL roster were realized.

Nine days after being claimed from the Steelers, he made his regular season debut in the NFL against the Seattle Seahawks and did not disappoint. He made a big impact with his new team by recording two tackles, one tackle for loss, and one pass defensed. Although the Cardinals lost, he made a lasting impact that made the front office take notice.

Here’s what Steve Keim and Bruce Arians had to say after the game, quotes courtesy of Josh Weinfuss:

“Josh Mauro would have gotten a game ball if we would have won the game,” said Arians. “He played his tail off, stout at the point of attack. Really, really nice surprise.”

“He played excellent,” said Keim. “He’s a guy, actually, that stood out.”

Josh Mauro had his best season in 2015. He finished the regular season with 16 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack, two forced fumbles, one pass defensed, and 10 QB pressures. He was active for 14 games that includes four starts.

He was rewarded with more snaps on the field in 2016. He was active for 15 games with 13 starts. He had 32 tackles and one pass defensed.

On January 12, 2017, he re-signed with the Arizona Cardinals on a two-year deal

The 26 year old is well deserving of the contract and some might say that he deserves a little more. With the new contract and Calais Campbell departure, he has a chance to be the unquestioned starter on the defensive line and can make a case for himself to earn even more when his contract expires after the 2018 season. He will likely compete with Robert Nkemdiche for the starting job with Rodney Gunter in the fold as well. Gunter could compete opposite of him though.

"Josh could be our starter” said Arians after Day 1 of OTA. “Josh only plays great every time he's on the field. He doesn't play good, he plays great. He got a game ball first rattle out of the box up in Seattle. He'll improve his pass rush. He's a great run defender and tenacious player."