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!
It's tamper time!— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) March 15, 2021
Here is the latest 2021 NFL Free Agency Cheatsheet: pic.twitter.com/bsOUjLLpPK
Here are two of the Cardinals’ free agent signings that Mike Clay applauded:
I've loved the Conner-to-Cardinals dot-connect all offseason. He's arguably a better fit for the early-down/GL role than Drake was and he's certainly a good complement to Chase Edmonds. Good fit for both sides.— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) April 13, 2021
Updated 2021 Cardinals projections with James Conner in the fold. #clayprojections pic.twitter.com/Q0kXZfL2yP— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) April 13, 2021
The Cards leveled up at DT @mikeclaynfl ranks the NFL's biggest position upgrades via free agency and trades: https://t.co/eb5tqDJiV2 pic.twitter.com/nVY0QpzUSI— ESPN+ (@ESPNPlus) June 2, 2021
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:
Projected 2021 starting offensive lines for all 32 NFL teams: pic.twitter.com/6StB7OFBvq— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) May 27, 2021
Updated Unit Grades:
Just ran a full sweep of 2021 NFL Unit Grades.#ClayProjections pic.twitter.com/qU21T9T51x— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) August 5, 2021
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):
Way-too-early first run of the 2021 NFL Survivor League Tool— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) May 13, 2021
Each team's projected win probability by week (2nd chart is a ranking of each team's weekly win%s) #ClayProjections pic.twitter.com/trYYJey9CY
Mike Clay’s record projections; going by game to game win probabilities and roster rankings:
- SEA 11-6
- ARI 10-7
- LAR: 9-7-1
- SF 9-8
Overall Rankings Per Roster Grades: (*Note—-Mike Clay tabulated these overall rankings by placing added weight on the QB position)
If these rankings were to translate to team records, the 2021 playoffs seeds:
2021 Arizona Cardinals: A “Mold of Clay”?
The Cardinals’ Chief Molders:
- Steve Keim
- Kliff Kingsbury
- Vance Joseph
- 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 hope: Ratings of 8+ for all 4 going into 2022.
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?
Much improved practice habits, spawned by veteran leadership, with “all-in” participation.