For the Arizona Cardinals, the biggest question the team has to answer is involving their defensive line.
They lost Calais Campbell, they didn’t get a lot out of the defensive end opposite Campbell and as good as Corey Peters is, he is more of a cog in the machine, rather than a big time playmaker.
They need a couple of players to step up, most notably 2016 first round pick, Robert Nkemdiche, but one of Rodney Gunter, Olsen Pierre or Josh Mauro also need to answer the bell.
Through the beginning of the offseason though, one player that is turning heads is Olsen Pierre:
“He’s one of those cats, he’s going to be surprising,” Iupati said, according to Kyle Odegard for the official team site. “He’s a phenomenal player. He’s one of those guys, like a Michael Bennett-type. He’s getting his stuff down. He’s not only fast but he’s physical. He’s a force to be reckoned with. It’s one of those things where you underestimate him because he’s a small guy. But he’s quick. I think he’s a hell of a player.”
The Cardinals need a defensive lineman to step up and lessen the burden of losing Campbell.
It won’t be just one player, that is really tall task to ask any singular individual, but if Pierre can show flashes in his time of a Michael Bennett-type, that would be a huge boost for the defense.
Remember, Bennett was an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, signed initially by the Seattle Seahawks. He made the Seahawks roster out of camp in 2009, but injuries along the offensive line forced them to release Bennett, and Tampa Bay swooped in to claim him.
Similarly, Pierre was a surprise part of the roster coming out of camp, but maybe Arizona saw something that made them remember a situation like Bennett’s and knew better than to release him.
Pierre may be someone that the Cardinals see growing slowly into a position. Bennett had one sack as a rookie, then one sack as a second year player. More importantly, he only had three tackles as a rookie and 15 as a second year player.
It was year three before the jump was made for Bennett, then in year four he became the dominant force he is now.
That means, maybe Pierre will show flashes in 2017 and grow into a mainstay in year three. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they have Michael Bennett starting in September. Although, that would be nice.