Mike Clay of ESPN+ (Insider) wrote up their pundits’ 2020 NFL unit rankings in this article, posted yesterday (accessible to ESPN Insider subscribers):
I tend to get fired up about rankings like this one because if the Cardinals’ players see this, it will add to the ever-growing chip on their shoulders. Time and time again, I believe the ESPN crew grossly underrated the Cardinals’ personnel.
Thus, here are the ESPN rankings, with my own ranking in parenthesis next to it.
QB: 13 (7)—-Kyler Murray is a unique talent who gives opposing DCs fits. I think that Brett Hundley is emerging as one of the top QB2’s in the league.
RB: 22 (14)—-Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds and Eno Benjamin are nifty fits in the system.
WR: 3 (3)—-The quartet of DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella is supremely talented and very difficult to defend. Expect timely contributions from KeeSean Johnson and Hakeem Butler, as well.
TE: 30 (18)—-Blocking matters and the Cardinals have the best blocking TE in the NFL in Maxx Williams, who is also an under-rated receiver. Dan Arnold and Dylan Cantrell bring young receiving talent to the group.
OL: 29 (10)—-This is the most talented, deepest and best coached offensive line group the Cardinals have had in ages. I believe they will challenge the 49ers for the top, most cohesive OL in the division. The Cardinals were 13th in offensive efficiency last year—-and the cohesion that was built on the OL was a huge reason for that. Imagine what they can do in year 2.
DL: 31 (22)—-The Cardinals have a nice blend of run stuffers led by Corey Peters and pass rushers led by Jordan Phillips, most of whom are unsung (Zach Allen, Jonathan Bullard, Michael Dogbe, Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence) as of yet.
Edge: 17 (9)—-It’s amazing how pundits continue to ignore Chandler Jones. Devon Kennard is no slouch and the Cardinals have speedy, athletic depth in Haason Reddick and Isaiah Simmons.
LB: 11 (10)—-Jordan Hicks in one of the most under-rated players in the NFL and De’Vondre Campbell may have struggled some in coverage last year, but according to PFF, he has missed only 23 of his last 291 tackling attempts. That is an extraordinary stat. Add Isaiah Simmons and Evan Weaver for depth and this unit is top 10 and possibly higher.
CB: 20 (15)—-Much depends on the healthy and rejuvenated play of Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford. Their coverage talent as a tandem is potential top 10. year 2 should be a huge step forward for Byron Murphy and don’t sleep on Chris Jones.
S: 30 (8)—-This ranking is laughable. Just as they under-rated the Cardinals Pro Bowl OLB/DE Chandler Jones, they basically snubbed Pro Bowl S Budda Baker. As the Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin and the Rams’ head coach Sean McVay about Budda Baker. Plus, if anyone watched Jalen Thompson down the stretch last year, this kid is a baller. The icing on the cake here is Isaiah Simmons, who should be used all over the field in base and sub packages. Plus, keep an eye on sub package cover 2 FS Deionte Thompson.
Overall: 22 (10)—-ESPN+ has the 49ers at 8, the Seahawks at 9, the Cardinals at 22 and the Rams at 25. I believe it will be 49ers at 7, Cardinals at 10, Seahawks at 14 and Rams at 19.
I know that my rankings may feel overly optimistic to many of you—-thus, I will be interested to read and respond to your rebuttals and to see where you believe the Cardinals’ units should be ranked.
At the end of your rankings, add up the numbers and divide by ten and that’s about where the Cardinals would be ranked overall. Mine added up to 102 which divided by 10 is 10.2. That’s how I cam up with the 10 overall ranking.