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Cardinals’ DT Darius Philon is primed for a breakout season

The 25-year-old must be more than a run stopper along the defensive line

Cincinnati Bengals vs Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Scott Varley/Digital First Media/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals made sure to bolster the defensive line by signing former Chargers’ defensive tackle Darius Philon to a two-year, $10 million deal during the offseason.

Philon is coming off a season where he started 13 of 16 games, in place of the injured Corey Liuget. He was a key contributor to the Chargers’ defensive line, playing in almost 59 percent of their defensive snaps. He registered 33 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss, four sacks, and a forced fumble in 2018.

In the past two seasons, he recorded 64 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss and 22 QB hits

Positional versatility is such an important trait of his, allowing Cardinals’ defensive coordinator Vance Joseph to use him all over the defensive line. He can rotate with Corey Peters as a nose tackle and play on either defensive end positions.

He is one of the smaller defensive tackles in the NFL, being only 6-1 286 pounds. Even then, Philon plays a lot bigger than his size and has a non-stop motor. He satisfies a position of need for the Cardinals, considering they allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL on defense last season.

Since being a sixth round pick out of Arkansas in 2015, Philon has improve with every season and is known for his run-stuffing prowess. He does make up for his lack of size and speed with power. His ability to penetrate on the defensive line and disengage to tackle the rusher is evident in his film.

The Cardinals linebacker unit this season is arguably a lot more talented than the Chargers of 2018. Expect most, if not all, of the Cardinals’ 2019 opponents to put double blockers on either Chandler Jones or Terrell Suggs. This will give Philon plenty of opportunities to sack or get after the quarterback.

I’m projecting Philon to double his sack total of last season and record a total of eight sacks in 2019. Whether more opportunities means more production is not certain but normally is expected.

With an increase in snaps in line for the 25-year-old defensive tackle, all eyes will be on Philon to eclipse his 2018 totals. The Cardinals will be a forced to be reckoned with on defense if he can live up to expectations.