Background: Nov 27, 2022; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals defenders Budda Baker (3) and Isaiah Simmons (9) celebrate a defensive stop against the Los Angeles Chargers at State Farm Stadium. Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK
Here is a close look at how the Cardinals’ defensive personnel matches up with the Eagles, vis-a-vis Jonathan Gannon’s 4-3 defense.
- LDE: Brandon Graham (6-2, 265, 4.72) —- Cameron Thomas (6-4, 267, 4.78)
- LDT Javon Hargrave* (6-2, 305, 4.93) —- Rashard Lawrence (6-2, 308, 5.07)
- RDT Fletcher Cox* (6-4, 310, 4.77) —- Leki Fotu (6-5, 335, 5.15)
- RDE Josh Sweat (6-5, 265, 4.53) —- Myjai Sanders (6-5, 255, 4.67)
- If the Cardinals re-sign Zach Allen, he’s strong fit at LDE and they could move Cameron Thomas over to LDE. Or maybe JG would like Allen as a disruptive DT. Move him inside and outside.
- Not sure whether Myjai Sanders has the prototypical bulk and strength to start just yet at RDE. Maybe this off-season with Buddy Morris and crew can do wonders for Myjai.
- This is why Tyree Wilson (6-6, 275, Texas Tech) would be a nifty fit at the 4-3 RDE position. As could Myles Murphy (6-5, 275, Clemson) , Lukas Van Ness (6’5, 269, Iowa), Keion White (6-5, 286, Georgia Tech), Dylan Horton (6-4, 275, TCU), Isaiah Foskey (6-5, 265, Notre Dame), Zack Harrison (6-6, 272, Ohio St.). or Tavius Robinson (6-6, 265, Mississippi).
- While Rashard Lawrence has the ability to thrive in JG’s defense, his durability concerns should behoove the Cardinals to try to acquire two stud DTs. It would be huge for the Cardinals to sign an instant impact DT like Javon Hargrave or Dalvin Tomlinson. Huge!
- At DT in the draft, the red flags regarding Jalen Carter are too daunting to ignore, especially for an organization that took a big gamble on Robert Nkemdiche, a gamble which set the team back years at the DT position and, more tragically, because of Jeff Gladney’s and his girlfriend’s fatal car accident. Plus, Hollywood Brown’s alarming 120 mph speeding arrest. It would seem highly hypocritical in MOJO’s first draft for them to select Carter in light of the personnel priorities they have made clear and emphatic to the fans and players.
- If the Cardinals trade back, in Round 1, then Calijah Kansey (PIT) or Bryan Bresee (CLEM) could possibly make sense, as would selecting Gervin Dexter, Jr. (FLA) late on Day 2, or early in Day 3.
- It’s not a particularly deep draft at DT. Carter, Kansey and Bresee appear to be the only potential plug and play starters. Although, Mazi Smith (MICH), Tuli Tuipulotu (USC) and Siaki Ika (BAY) and look aptly suited to be solid rotational players as rookies.
- Conclusion: it would be wise for the Cardinals to address DT in free agency and try to bolster 4-3 DE in the draft.
- SOLB Haason Reddick (6-1, 240, 4.52) —- Isaiah Simmons (6-4, 238, 4.39)
- MLB T.J. Edwards* (6-1, 242, 4.77) —- Zaven Collins (6-4, 260, 4.66)
- WOLB Kyzir White* (6-2, 225, 4.69) —- Dennis Gardeck (6-0, 232, 4.57) or Jesse Luketa (6-3, 247, 4.89)
- If the Cardinals draft Will Anderson Jr., then he plugs right into the SOLB “Reddick” role, which would then enable JG to switch Isaiah Simmons over to WOLB. Man, the thought of a linebacking trio of Simmons, Collins and Anderson is a cause for cartwheels and somersaults.
- I think it is very possible that JG and Nick Rallis may want to sign Kyzir White to pick up where he left off in Philly at WOLB. While T.J. Edwards has been mentioned as a potential UFA signing, my guess is that the Cardinals’ coaches are excited to have Zaven Collins as their MIKE.
- Conclusion: the Cardinals could finally have a defense where their linebackers are actually well suited for their roles and emerge as a strength of the defense.
- LCB James Bradberry* (6-1, 211, 4.50) —- Christian Matthew (6-2, 195, 4.50)
- SS C.J. Garnder-Johnson* (5-11, 210, 4.48) —- Jalen Thompson (5-11, 190, 4.47)
- FS Marcus Epps (6-0, 191, 4.43) —- Budda Baker (5-10, 195, 4.45)
- RCB Darius Slay (6-0, 190, 4.36) —- Marco Wilson (6-0, 191, 4.34)
- NCB Avonte Maddox (5-9, 184, 4.39) —- Nate Hairston (6-0, 195, 4.52)
- The Cardinals need to sign two UFA CBs and draft two CBs. Plain and simple. Obviously, James Bradberry stands out as a strong UFA possibility. But, my hunch is that JG will try to sign a couple of less heralded CBs whom he believes can flourish in his system.
- What excites me beyond all ecstasy is the thought of the Cardinals finally acquiring a bona fide slot CB who can dog the likes of Lockett, Deebo and Kupp.
- Another question mark in the secondary is deep coverage, which has been a weakness. One would imagine that JG, Nick Rallis and the assistant coaches have detected this pass coverage weakness while studying the 2022 game films. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising to see MOJO sign or draft a good, rangy, ball-hawking centerfielder.
- Conclusion: JG cut his teeth in the NFL as a defensive backs coach. Rebuilding this secondary is likely going to be one of his top pet projects.
- DT —-
Javon Hargrave (PHI - 3/$18.5M ave.); Dre’Mont Jones (DEN - 4/$17M ave.); Zach Allen (ARI - 3/$12.5M ave.); Dalvin Tomlinson (3/$11.8M ave); David Onyemata (NO - 2/$7.5M); Fletcher Cox (PHI - 1/$7M); Sheldon Rankins (NYJ - 2/$6M ave.); Larry Ogunjobi (PIT - 3/$10M ave.); Poonah Ford (SEA -- 2/$7.5M ave.); Matt Ioanidis (CAR - 2/$6.5M ave.); Morgan Fox (LAC - 2/$5.5M ave.); Jarran Reed (GB - 2/$3.75M ave,); Greg Gaines (LAR - 2/$3M ave.); A’Shawn Robinson (LAR - 1/$2.5M)
- CB —-
- #5 —-Jamel Dean (26, TB —- 77.9): 4 yrs — $17m avg/yr, $45m guaranteed, $68m total
- #15 —-James Bradberry (29, PHI —- 71.7, 2022 2nd Team All Pro): 2 yrs — $12M avg/yr, $16.5M guaranteed, $24M total
- #23 Cameron Sutton (28, PIT —- 68.1): 3 yrs — $8.5m avg/yr, $15.5m guaranteed, $25.5m total
- #33 Jonathan Jones (29, NE —- 68.1): 2 yrs — $5.5m avg/yr, $7m guaranteed, $11m total
- #45 Byron Murphy (25, ARI —- 66.7): 3 yrs — $12m avg/yr, $21.75m guaranteed, $36m total
2023 NFL Draft Menu (per Mel Kiper’s Big Board):
1. Jalen Carter, Georgia
2. Calijah Kancey, Pitt
3. Bryan Bresee, Clemson
4. Mazi Smith, Michigan
5. Tuli Tuipulotu, USC
6. Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
7. Siaki Ika, Baylor
8. Colby Wooden, Auburn
9. Karl Brooks, Bowling Green
10. Byron Young, Alabama
Just missed: Keondre Coburn, Texas; Gervon Dexter Sr., Florida
1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
2. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
3. Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
4. Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State
5. Deonte Banks, Maryland
6. Cam Smith, South Carolina
7. Kelee Ringo, Georgia
8. Riley Moss, Iowa
9. Garrett Williams, Syracuse
10. Tyrique Stevenson, Miami (Fla.)
Just missed: Darius Rush, South Carolina; Clark Phillips III, Utah; Kyu Blu Kelly, Stanford; Carrington Valentine, Kentucky; Julius Brents, Kansas State; Alex Austin, Oregon State; Cory Trice, Purdue
1. Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
2. Myles Murphy, Clemson
3. Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
4. Keion White, Georgia Tech
5. BJ Ojulari, LSU
6. Dylan Horton, TCU
7. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State
8. Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
9. Zach Harrison, Ohio State
10. Tavius Robinson, Ole Miss
Just missed: Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern
1. Drew Sanders, Arkansas
2. Trenton Simpson, Clemson
3. Jack Campbell, Iowa
4. Daiyan Henley, Washington State
5. Dorian Williams, Tulane
6. Dee Winters, TCU
7. Noah Sewell, Oregon
8. Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati
9. Henry To’oTo’o, Alabama
10. DeMarvion Overshown, Texas
Just missed: Nick Herbig, Wisconsin; Isaiah Moore, NC State; Owen Pappoe, Auburn; Drake Thomas, NC State
1. Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
2. Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
3. Nolan Smith, Georgia
4. Mike Morris, Michigan
5. Derick Hall, Auburn
6. Byron Young, Tennessee
7. Andre Carter II, Army
8. Thomas Incoom, Central Michigan
9. Caleb Murphy, Ferris State
10. Jalen Graham, Purdue
1. Brian Branch, Alabama
2. Jammie Robinson, Florida State
3. Sydney Brown, Illinois
4. Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M
5. Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State
6. Ronnie Hickman, Ohio State
7. Jartavius Martin, Illinois
8. Kaevon Merriweather, Iowa
9. Christopher Smith, Georgia
10. Jordan Battle, Alabama
ROTB Challenge: Using the menus above and given a $24M UFA budget to spend on defense, who are your top 2 UFAs defensive signings and top 2 defensive draft picks?
- Defensive UFA #1: ______________________________________________________
- Defensive UFA #2: ______________________________________________________
- #1 Defensive Draft Pick: ________________________________________________
- #2 Defensive Draft Pick: ________________________________________________
Your 4-3 Starters + Nickel CB:
- LDE _____________________________________________________
- LDT ____________________________________________________
- RDT ____________________________________________________
- RDE ____________________________________________________
- SOLB __________________________________________________
- MLB __________________________________________________
- WOLB ________________________________________________
- LCB __________________________________________________
- SS ___________________________________________________
- FS ___________________________________________________
- RCB _________________________________________________
- NCB ________________________________________________
I am absolutely fascinated to see what you come up with,