The Arizona Cardinals offensive line has been a big mess for the majority of Steve Keim’s tenure. He did give the team a little more time to fix the line by drafting quarterback Kyler Murray.
Though Murray is not an offensive linemen, he is an extremely athletic quarterback that escaped pressure with ease as an Oklahoma Sooner. Not many teams have a quarterback that is as elusive and agile as Murray.
Murray can’t run forever but he can buy Steve Keim more time to build a more complete offensive line over the next few years. By the time the 2019 season is over, the Cardinals will either have more holes to fill or definitive answers for Murray’s long-term protection.
Is D.J. Humphries a franchise left tackle?
Humphries needs to stay healthy and play to his potential as the Cardinals 2015 first-round pick. The upcoming season is basically his last chance to prove himself as a franchise left tackle to the Cardinals organization. When healthy, he has been an above average offensive tackle. But with the numerous injuries he has sustained over the years, there is no doubt the ceiling to his potential has dropped. If he disappoints again, expect the team to target an offensive tackle high in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Arizona's D.J. Humphries generated a 72.2 run-blocking grade in 2018, 8th among offensive tackles pic.twitter.com/VwZWY62Zf1— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 4, 2019
Will Justin Pugh be the starter at left or right guard?
Pugh has proven to be a good left guard when he was a member of the New York Giants. In his first year as the Cardinals’ right guard, he posted one of the worst PFF grades (50.7) by a guard in 2018. I don’t think many fans wants to see Pugh play on the right side again. The Cardinals need to start playing to their strengths and play Pugh in his more natural/best position on the left side.
Did Mason Cole get stronger?
The Cardinals’ 2018 third-round pick played well for a rookie but his performance wasn’t anything to be too happy about. Keim has a tendency to draft offensive linemen that lack the necessary strength to do well in the NFL. He was beat one too many times by strength alone. He is agile enough to play center and he is mentally ready to be a franchise center. But, the lack of strength could hurt him in the long run and we need to hope he has gotten stronger over the offseason. If not, A.Q. Shipley is ready to resume his job as the starter.
Is J.R. Sweezy really an upgrade over last year’s guards?
The Cardinals played quite a few players at guard last season with Mike Iupati, Oday Aboushi, Colby Gossett and Jeremy Vujnovich. The Cardinals best guard last season was probably Aboushi who posted a 77.8 pass-blocking grade frpm weeks 10 to 17, ranking 18th among eligible guards. Meanwhile Sweezy posted a 45.7 overall grade, among one of the worst-graded guards in 2018. He did allow a career-low of 19 hurries and 26 pressures last season. Hopefully he can stay healthy and become a better guard than what his history suggests.
Marcus Gilbert needs to stay healthy but is a good short-term answer at right tackle
He has missed 23 total games the past three seasons. Even when unhealthy, his play is still better than anything the Cardinals have had for a very long time at the right tackle position. He is only on a one-year contract but a change in scenery for him from Pittsburgh to Arizona could help Gilbert health wise. Again, he is a short-term fix to the position but if he gets hurt at any time, Korey Cunningham will have a chance to build on his promising 2018 season.
Murray’s athletic ability buys Steve Keim more time to build a young and healthy offensive line. Personally, I feel the interior of the offensive line is the biggest weakness for the Cardinals where as D.J. Humphries and Marcus Gilbert are good starters for the tackle positions. We will find out if Pugh really is a big free-agent bust because his 2018 season was a very bad year for him. There are a lot of talented guards and tackles that will be eligible for the 2020 draft.
Though the concerns of the offensive line are eased a little bit, it is good to know that the Cardinals have a quarterback that has the ability to be among to best in evading pressure.