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2021 Arizona Cardinals: Mold of Clay?

Arizona Cardinals Training Camp Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

I hold a profound appreciation for the spectacularly detailed projections that Mike Clay does for ESPN. Let us know in the comment section what you think of Mike Clay’s work. Do you follow him on Twitter?

As you can see, Mike Clay keeps a running grade on every team’s position groups and adjusts the grades with each team’s additions and subtractions. Check out this labor of love —- Mike’s annual Free Agency Cheatsheet!

Here are two of the Cardinals’ free agent signings that Mike Clay applauded:

The one correction I would make here is that Watt replaces Jordan Phillips in the base defense at 34 DE, not Zach Allen.

This is a handy projection of Clay’s starting OL projections:

Updated Unit Grades:

The units shaded in green are above average, while the units shaded in red are below average. Average units are in white.

  • Cardinals units shaded in green: QB, WR, OL, DI, ED, S, OFF, OVERALL
  • Cardinals units shaded in white: DEF
  • Cardinals the units shaded in red: RB, TE, LB, CB (Note. thus far in pre-season, Cardinals’ fans have a reason to be encouraged by the LB and CB play.)

This Weeks’ NFL Position Rankings Article by Mike Clay:

NFC West Position Rankings (per Mike Clay):

QB: 1. SEA-4th, 2. ARI-9th, 3. LAR-10th, 4. SF-19th

RB: 1. SEA-21st, 2. SF-24th, 3. ARI-26th; 4. LAR-30th

TE: 1. SF-2nd, 2. LAR-18th, 3. SEA-21st, 4. ARI-32nd

Shakiest: Arizona Cardinals (per Mike Clay)

I could’ve gone with Arizona or Jacksonville here, but at least Jacksonville made an attempt to improve the position by adding Luke Farrell in the fifth round of April’s draft. Arizona, meanwhile, moved on from Dan Arnold during the offseason, leaving the likes of Maxx Williams, Darrell Daniels and Demetrius Harris to handle the bulk of the snaps. Needless to say, the position remains a low priority in Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme.

WR: 1. SEA-7th, 2. ARI-10th, 3. LAR-18th, 4. SF-25th

OL: 1. SF-9th, 2. SEA-12th, 3. ARI-13th, 4. LAR-14th

DI: 1. LAR-2nd, 2. ARI-9th, 3. SEA-24th, 4. SF-28th

ED: 1. SF-2nd, 2. ARI-13th, 3. SEA-23rd, 4. LAR-26th

LB: 1. SF-3rd, 2. SEA-4th, 3. ARI-18th, 4. LAR-32nd

Unit to watch: Arizona Cardinals

Arizona has selected an off-ball linebacker in the first round of each of the past two drafts, adding Isaiah Simmons eighth overall in 2020 and Zaven Collins with the 16th pick this past April. The versatile Simmons was limited to 34% of the snaps as a rookie but is in line for a larger role and potential breakout in 2021. Collins, meanwhile, is expected to immediately replace Jordan Hicks as an every-down player. The Simmons/Collins duo has elite upside.

CB: 1. LAR-5th, 2. sf-16th, 3. ARI-23rd, 4. SEA-31st

S: 1. SEA-7th, 2. ARI-14th, 3. SF-21st, 4. LAR-27th

NFC West (Overall):

  1. SEA-8th
  2. ARI-9th
  3. LAR-14th
  4. SF-15th

Mike Clay’s record projections; going by game to game win probabilities and roster rankings:

NFC West:

  1. SEA 11-6
  2. ARI 10-7
  3. LAR: 9-7-1
  4. SF 9-8

Overall Rankings Per Roster Grades: (*Note—-Mike Clay tabulated these overall rankings by placing added weight on the QB position)

  1. TB
  2. GB
  3. CLE
  4. BAL
  5. DAL
  6. MIN
  7. TEN
  8. SEA
  9. ARI
  10. BUF
  11. KC
  12. PIT
  13. WAS
  14. LAR
  15. SF
  16. DEN
  17. LAC
  18. NE
  19. NO
  20. IND
  21. NYG
  22. LV
  23. CIN
  24. MIA
  25. PHI
  26. ATL
  27. JAC
  28. CHI
  29. DET
  30. CAR
  31. NYJ
  32. HOU

If these rankings were to translate to team records, the 2021 playoffs seeds:


  1. CLE
  2. TEN
  3. BUF
  4. KC
  5. BAL
  6. PIT


  1. TB
  2. GB
  3. DAL
  4. SEA
  5. MIN
  6. ARI

2021 Arizona Cardinals: A “Mold of Clay”?

The Cardinals’ Chief Molders:

  1. Steve Keim
  2. Kliff Kingsbury
  3. Vance Joseph
  4. Jeff Rodgers

According to Mike Clay, the Cardinals have the roster to make the playoffs. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how confident are you in each of these molders?

My answers:

  1. 5
  2. 5
  3. 5
  4. 8

My hope: Ratings of 8+ for all 4 going into 2022.

Your answers?

Your hope?

What is the one factor (other than the team staying healthy) that could get the molders and the 2021 Cardinals over the hump and into the playoffs?

My answer:

Much improved practice habits, spawned by veteran leadership, with “all-in” participation.

Your answer?