There is no doubting the Arizona Cardinals had a down year in 2016 and then went on to lose some key players this offseason. We have hashed both of these topics out extensively here on Revenge of the Birds.
While there are still playoff aspirations for the Cards and their fans, the window appears to be closing rapidly. To make that leap from mediocrity into playoff contention, players that had down years in 2016 such as Carson Palmer, John Brown and Tyrann Mathieu, will have to step it up. Still, not much is expected within NFL circles in terms of making a big playoff run.
With the roster as it is currently constructed (barring any potential Keim special signings near training camp), Pro Football Focus recently released their rankings and placed the Cardinals at 14th in the league. They cited the lack of an interior pass rush with the loss of Calais Campbell as a reason their grade took a hit. According to PFF's grading system, not a single player on the roster is in the elite level (former Cards safety Tony Jefferson was almost in that level with a grade of 88.6).
The lack of an elite player seems a bit puzzling, but that is why I have always taken PFF grades with a grain of salt. David Johnson received a grade of only 83.2, while Patrick Peterson (the player PFF cites as the team's biggest strength despite not having the highest grade on the team) garnered an 84.4. The highest grade was doled out to Chandler Jones at 87.4.
Tight end and wide receiver seem to be holding the team's overall grade down as well. Both Jermaine Gresham and Troy Niklas were graded out as "poor".
What do you think? Is this grade fair? Does 14th best roster in the league sound about right to you?