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Cardinals’ Top Fives in the Three Phases

NFL: Arizona Cardinals OTA Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Background: Jun 9, 2022; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) reacts during OTA workouts at the teams training facility. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas

Here were the Cardinals’ top five highest grades (per PFF) in the team’s three phases in 2021 (minimum of 200 snaps on offense and defense):

Offense:

  1. 82.9 —- Kyler Murray
  2. 81.9 —- James Conner
  3. 79.8 —- DeAndre Hopkins
  4. 77.9 —- Maxx Williams
  5. 72.1 —- Christian Kirk

(While he did not qualify, snaps-wise, Jonathan Ward’s 83.2 grade on offense was tops on the team)

Defense:

  1. 78.6 —- J.J. Watt
  2. 77.0 —- Devon Kennard
  3. 75.2 —- Markus Golden
  4. 68.6 —- Jalen Thompson
  5. 66.9 —- Robert Alford

Special Teams:

  1. 80.7 —- Aaron Brewer
  2. 79.8 —- Demetrius Harris
  3. 79.5 —- Dennis Gardeck
  4. 79.2 —- Andy Isabella
  5. 76.1 —- Antonio Hamilton

Notes and Questions:

  • Cardinals graded well at the skill positions on offense, which speaks well to their ability to spread the ball in the passing game and to the team’s red zone rushing efficiency.
  • Q: will a Cardinals’ offensive lineman (or two) crack the top five in 2022?
  • Interesting to see three defensive linemen leading the way for the Cardinals on defense, followed by two stalwarts in the secondary.
  • Q: will one (or two) of the Cardinals’ linebackers score in the top 5 in 2022?
  • The Cardinals had the 13th best special teams’ grade in 2021, despite having one of the least productive kickoff and punt return units in the league.
  • Q: Will the Cardinals continue their excellence on cover teams and improve their return game in 2022, which could elevate their special teams unit into the top 5 of the NFL?
  • Of the 15 top 5 players in 2021, only 3 (Kirk, Alford and Harris), are not with the team. Kirk got a monster contract with the Jags. Alford and Harris are still free agents. The Cardinals have said that they have been talking to Alford. And Trey McBride is expected to be a significant factor on special teams as a rookie 2nd round pick. As might UFA signee Stephen Anderson.
  • Q: does the Cardinals’ continuity, personnel-wise, impress you?
  • “This is how we do it”...

ROTB Challenge:

Identify three players whom you believe could crack the top 5 in 2022: (I’ll chime in later on with mine)

  1. Offense: ___________________________
  2. Defense: ___________________________
  3. Special Teams: ____________________