As is common in the offseason, an offseason power ranking from ESPN has been released.
However, this ranking from ESPN is slightly different.
This is an effort actually from Pro Football Focus that was put on ESPN Insider that ranked all 32 NFL rosters.
It’s not overly surprising to see that the Arizona Cardinals roster was ranked among the bottom third in the NFL, coming in at 23, if you’ve paid attention to what PFF has said about the Cardinals this offseason.
The concern from PFF makes sense when you see what they consider the strength of the Cards:
> Biggest strength: Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the team’s best player spent nearly all of 2017 on injured reserve. Star running back David Johnson suffered a season-ending wrist injury in the opener, averaging 2.2 YPC before he got hurt, which explains his low grade. He was coming off a breakout year in 2016, when he earned an 87.8 grade and led all running backs in forced missed tackles with 71. If healthy, Johnson can take some of the weight off veteran QB Sam Bradford’s shoulders and reclaim his seat among the league’s best running backs.
The best player on the roster to PFF is David Johnson. The reason it makes sense is because the 87.8 grade for DJ would have been the highest on the team from last year.
That’s right, Johnson in 2016 was better than Chandler Jones in 2017, if only slightly, Jones had an 87.3 grade in ‘17. Moreover, the only other 80+ player on offense from PFF grades was Larry Fitzgerald.
That’s why when you add in what PFF sees as the weakness of the Cardinals, the ranking down at 23 makes some sense:
> Biggest weakness: Cardinals tackle Andre Smith, previously one of the better players at his position, has fallen off a bit since his prime years (2011-14). The nine-year player out of Alabama has earned sub-60.0 grades in each of the past three seasons and, most recently, allowed 32 total pressures en route to a 92.4 pass-blocking efficiency rating. That tied for 68th among tackles with at least 178 pass-block snaps.
The concern of Smith is one many feel, but when you add to that the Cardinals only had two starters with a 50+ PFF grade in 2017, D.J. Humphries (74.9) and Justin Pugh (52.4), the concern lies along the whole line.
Yes, in fact the Cardinals only have one projected starter, Humphries, with a grade over 70.
Per Pro Football Focus, a grade in the 70 range is considered average.
Meaning every member of the Cardinals offensive line, at least to PFF, was considered poor, a grade of less than 60, other than Hump.
Defensively, the Cardinals have a lot of average to above average players, but in PFF grades, they don’t have any elite level players.
That’s why, in the case of PFF grades, it plays itself out that the Cardinals have a bottom third roster.
These are their grades of players, whether we agree or not doesn’t matter.