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Cardinals Projected Starters Per PFF

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals Training Camp Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Background: Jul 31, 2021; Phoenix, AZ, United States; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore (85) runs with the ball during training camp at State Farm Stadium Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale

ARIZONA CARDINALS (projected starters per PFF, link here:


QB Kyler Murray DI J.J. Watt

RB James Conner DI Leki Fotu

RB Chase Edmonds DI Jordan Phillips

TE Maxx Williams ED Chandler Jones

WR DeAndre Hopkins ED Markus Golden

WR A.J. Green LB Isaiah Simmons

WR Christian Kirk LB Zaven Collins

LT D.J. Humphries CB Malcolm Butler

LG Justin Pugh CB Robert Alford

C Rodney Hudson CB Byron Murphy

RG Justin Murray S Budda Baker

RT Kelvin Beachum S Jalen Thompson

Player to watch who isn’t listed: WR Rondale Moore

Arizona has thrown a screen on 17.7% of its pass attempts over the past two seasons, nearly three percentage points more than any other NFL offense. Moore’s dynamism is well suited to be on the receiving end of those screen passes in 2021. He broke 37 tackles after the catch in his freshman season alone at Purdue. His ceiling is higher than simply a gadget receiver, though. Moore’s route running and ball skills could lead to him becoming a well-rounded threat from the slot, pushing Green and Kirk for playing time alongside Hopkins.


The way that WR Rondale Moore has been featured in the offense thus far in training camp would suggest that he has the inside track to winning the starting slot WR position.

The rest of the projected starters on offense appear to be accurate.

The PFF projected starters on defense is in the context of a 4 man rush, nickel-type package.

Therefore, if we are going to apply the Cardinals’ defensive personnel to their base 34 defense, it is a strong bet that 34DE Zach Allen and SAM OLB Dennis Gardeck or Devon Kennard would start.

Starting Markus Golden and Chandler Jones at the 34 OLB spots would make it more difficult for the Cardinals to contain, set the edges and cover. Both Golden and Jones need to improve their tackling efficiency coming off a 2020 season in which they registered tackling grades of 35.8 and 29.0 respectively. Their missed tackle rates were 20.8% (Golden) and 27.3% (Jones). Tackling from all 4 LB spots in the 34 is of utmost importance. Hopefully all of the Cardinals’ defenders will be eager and highly productive tacklers this season.

Top Tackling Grades (60.0 or above) in 2020 (per PFF): (of returning players)

  1. 79.9 —- DE Zach Allen (505 snaps)
  2. 79.0 —- S Charles Washington (40 snaps)
  3. 78.4 —- S Chris Banjo (436 snaps)
  4. 77.2 —- LB Tanner Vallejo (96 snaps)
  5. 76.3 —- S Jalen Thompson (232 snaps)
  6. 76.3 —- LB Isaiah Simmons (376 snaps)
  7. 72.1 —- S Budda Baker (1,005 snaps)
  8. 71.4 —- LB Ezekiel Turner (6 snaps)
  9. 68.0 —- LB Jordan Hicks (1,024 snaps)
  10. 67.3 —- DT Michael Dogbe (41 snaps)
  11. 63.9 —- OLB Dennis Gardeck (94 snaps)
  12. 60.0 —- OLB Devon Kennard (362 snaps)


  • Zach Allen —- for a defensive interior player to lead the team in tackling efficiency is extremely rare.
  • Charles Washington, Chris Banjo, Tanner Vallejo, Ezekiel Turner and Dennis Gardeck —- it’s no wonder why they are the Cardinals’ aces on special teams. Cardinals’ 2020 Special Teams grade of 90.1 was 6th best in the NFL in large part thanks to the efforts of these five players.
  • Jordan Hicks —- it’s not that Jordan is a poor tackler, it’s where on the field he’s been having to make the tackles that’s the issue. His run defense grade (per PFF) in 2020 was 40.4.
  • Michael Dogbe —- for the second year in a row, when Michael Dogbe has had his chance to play, he has proven to be a highly reliable tackler. 67.3 in 2020 and 71.1 in 2019.
  • Devon Kennard —the strengths of his game are setting the edge, being physical at the point of attack and finishing as a tackler. His run defense grade was 69.8.

Former Cardinals In 2021 Projected Starting Lineups (per 2020 PFF grades compared to the 2021 Cardinals at those positions):

  • BAL —- DE Calais Campbell (2020 PFF grade: 74.7; J.J. Watt: 85.4)
  • CAR —- OLB Haason Reddick (2020 PFF grade: 72.8; Dennis Gardeck: 89.6)
  • DEN —- RT Bobby Massie (2020 PFF grade: 72.6; Kelvin Beachum: 69.0)
  • HOU —- RB David Johnson (2020 PFF grade: 62.9); Chase Edmonds: 69.2)
  • KC —- S Tyrann Mathieu (2020 PFF grade: 67.0; Budda Baker: 75.3)
  • LV —- RB Kenyan Drake (2020 PFF grade: 60.9; James Conner: 69.4)
  • LAC —- RG Oday Oboushi (2020 PFF grade: 66.6; Justin Murray: 56.7)
  • MIN —- CB Patrick Peterson (2020 PFF grade: 55.2; Malcolm Butler: 74.5)

Note: 2020 Pass Blocking Grades:

  • RT Massie —- 70.8 (8 games) ; Beachum —- 76.8 (16 games)
  • RG Oboushi —- 65.3 (12 games) ; Murray —-73.7 (13 games)

Are there any former Cardinals who are projected as starters on other teams you would rather have than the players the Cardinals at those positions?

Are there other Cardinals’ players you think might emerge as starters?