One of the failings of 2016 was that of the offensive line not coming together. Both injuries and ineffectiveness led to the Arizona Cardinals having one of the worst offensive lines, again, in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus ranked the Cardinals 2016 offensive line as 26th, lamenting the injuries to Jared Veldheer and Evan Mathis.
Now, with the Cardinals looking to have their 2017 line in order, Pro Football Focus has released their rankings heading into the season and have the Cardinals 17th:
“The success of this line will be largely dependent on 2015 first-round pick D.J. Humphries. He couldn’t crack the starting lineup as a rookie and last season took his lumps on the right side, yielding nine sacks. He’s in line for the left tackle spot in 2017 and will need to take big strides for this line to improve.”
Not surprising to see the key being Humphries growth. The Cardinals throw the ball… a lot. Keeping Palmer upright is the key moving forward.
However, there's legitimate questions on all five positions heading into the season.
Can Humphries be a lockdown left tackle?
Can Mike Iupati stay healthy and play at a high level?
Was A.Q. Shipley's play in ‘16 a flash in the pan?
Is Evan Boehm the answer at right guard?
Can Veldheer make a smooth transition to right tackle for the first time in his career?
All that being said, seeing the Cardinals as near the league average or just below is actually more than fair with all those questions and if they get three of five a positives, I think we could see them as a top 12-15 line in the league when the season ends.
If that happens, we could see a productive season, maybe with a stronger ending.