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Day 2 LTP: White Lightning and Will Power

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Background: Jan 1, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Kyzir White (43) celebrates with linebacker Haason Reddick (7) after a defensive stop against the New Orleans Saints during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher

White Lightning

Adding LB Kyzir White to Jonathan Gannon’s defense is a move that not only swiftly facilitates the Cardinals’ switch to the 4-3 base, it could electrify it.

  • SOLB: Isaiah Simmons
  • MLB: Zaven Collins
  • WOLB: Kyzir White

Seth Cox wrote: “This may be the vision. So, White and Collins in the White and Edwards role and Simmons playing the Reddick role.”

White is the quintessential modern day hybrid linebacker who can step up and tackle with consistent accuracy and has the pass coverage skills to blanket TEs and RBs.

One quick question emerged on Twitter yesterday —- what if the Cardinals draft LB Will Anderson Jr.?

Kyle Odegard thinks that Anderson could play 4-3 DE, but —- wouldn’t the Haason Reddick OLB role in JG’s defense seem perfect for Anderson?

Both, Kyle and I are fascinated with what Simmons could do as the team’s centerfielder.

I have been saying for quite some time now that the Cardinals should switch Jalen Thompson over to CB. He can force the run and cover man to man on the boundary with aplomb.

Perhaps JG can get the same kind of playmaking and timely breaks on the football from Isaiah Simmons that he got from Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in Philly. I mean, at 6-3 5/8, 238, 4.39 speed and a 39” vertical, why the frickity-frack not?

But, if the Cardinals trade down in the draft, as many pundits suspect, they now have a trio of athletic playmakers at linebacker in Isaiah Simmons —- Zaven Collins —- Kyzir White.

Lions Roaring for Richardson?

Seth Cox posted this draft nugget yesterday:

“Lions are the team I have heard want to move up for QB Anthony Richardson. I have heard you could be looking at: #6, #48, #55 and future 2nd. Similar to what the Colts got from the Jets.”

Man, that’s quite a haul.

Moving down to #6 has one potentially significant drawback in that it would likely put the Seahawks in position at #5 to take Will Anderson. The Seahawks are now loaded on the defensive interior with the additions of Dre’mont Jones and Jarran Reed. Imagine them adding Anderson to their pass rush. Yikes.

Poll:

Poll

What should the Cardinals do at #3 if Will Anderson is on the board?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Take Anderson at #3
    (38 votes)
  • 53%
    Trade down to #4 with IND to pick up the #35 pick, and take Anderson at #4
    (207 votes)
  • 36%
    Trade down to #6 with DET to get major haul of picks #6, #48, #55 and their 2024 2nd round pick
    (142 votes)
387 votes total Vote Now

Potentially Strong Addition at DE:

Monti Ossenfort plucked an under the radar talent from the Titans in Kevin Strong Jr. (6-4, 295, 4th season).On tape, Strong looks stout versus the run, but has yet to develop as a consistent pass rusher.

Last season, Strong played in 16 games as a rotational player. He recorded 17 tackles (only 1 missed tackle), 11 stops, 5 QB pressures, 1 batted ball and 0 sacks. He graded 59.5 overall and 65.6 in tackling.

Add Kevin Strong Jr. to the young (as of yet untapped) talent the Cardinals have on the defensive line.

Prater Connects from Deep

Returning STC Kevin Rodgers hinted that he would like to bring back the three amigos of veterans K Matt Prater, P Andy Lee and LS Aaron Brewer. Matt Prater, when healthy last season, made 22 of his 25 field goals (88%) and 17 of 18 extra points (94.4%).

But, due to a lingering hip ailment, he only played in 13 of the 17 games and the Cardinals kicking suffered because of it. Prater, 38, kicked in all 18 games in 2021 but was a little more erratic. Haven’t heard as yet what the salary figures are. His cap figure last season was $4.5M in the last year of a 2 year $6.5M contract. His new contract is also for 2 years.

Hunky Dory for Corey

RB Corey Clement (5-10, 220, 28, 7th NFL season, Wisconsin) must love the Eagles’ vibe in AZ these days, for he was a member of the Eagles’ Super Bowl winning team in 2017. You might recall, that after making the Eagles as an undrafted free agent that season, in Super Bowl LII, Clement caught four Nick Foles passes for 100 yards and a TD in Super Bowl. Plus, more notoriously, Clement was snapped the ball on the “Philly Special” which he handed off to TE Trey Burton, who then threw the ball to Nick Foles for the stunning razzle-dazzle TD.

Corey Clement (63.9) made a positive impact for the Cardinals during the final two games, rushing 15 times for 55 yards and 1 TD and catching 5 passes for 54 yards.

Will Power

PFF had projected Will Hernandez to receive a contract worth $4M a year. Well, the Cardinals saw that $4M for Hernandez and raised it $.5M a season to make the 2 year deal worth $9M.

Like others, I was impressed with the exchange Will Hernandez had with JG after JG’s introductory press conference. In fact, I was greatly impressed that Will and several of the Cardinals’ offensive linemen made the effort to welcome JG to Arizona. And now, most of all, it’s impressive to know how committed Will Hernandez is to turning things around in Arizona.

Keeping Will Hernandez with Kelvin Beachum as the G/T tandem on the right side of the offensive line could pay handsome dividends. Both Hernandez (64.9) and Beachum (70.6) scored outstanding pass blocking grades at 79.1 and 76.4 respectively. It takes strong communication and coordination for a G/T tandem to switch on TEX stunts (DT and DE crash and loop stunts). They are working those switches well.

As I mentioned on my wish list for wanting Will Hernandez back is the notion that his best football is still ahead of him. When he was signed last season, I think the majority of us thought he would be good in Arizona. He was. And now he gets a chance to build off a strong, albeit injury interrupted year (pec injury landed him for 4 weeks on IR —- Weeks 10-13 —- but he returned for Weeks 14-17 to help the offense take 4th quarter leads with their backup Q3 and QB4s) —- to slide back in next to Kelvin Beachum, the only Cardinals’ offensive lineman to start all 17 games.

The Cardinals need a whole lot of will power —- and Will Hernandez has it —- literally and figuratively.

By the way, look at how Kelvin Beachum and Will Hernandez come to Kyler’s defense:

Allen Wrench and Murphy’s Law

The tremendous irony of losing Zach Allen to the Broncos is that we Cardinals’ fans were always hoping that Vance Joseph would attract high profile Bronco defenders to Arizona —- and it never happened. Yet, a mere few weeks into his new DC assignment in Denver, he helps to land Zach Allen, who was the brightest and most productive defensive lineman the Cardinals have drafted since Calais Campbell.

However, as good and exciting as Zach Allen was for the Cardinals, the Broncos clearly had to outbid the Cardinals and all suitors in order to get him on board. While Zach Allen was one of the few Cardinals’ players who would flash in some games down the stretch after Thanksgiving, by the last two games each year he was shutting down due to an assortment of injuries that he would get treated on in the off-season.

As productive as Allen was this past season, his numbers pale in comparison to JJ Watt’s, who at age 33, had double the sacks and 21 more QB pressures and made 11 more stops (32 to 21). Now, Zach Allen is making the same salary as what the Cardinals paid Watt. Thus, can one really blame Monti Ossenfort for not reaching to that pricey extent to retain him?

While it hurts to also lose CB Byron Murphy, overpaying for him was difficult to justify for the same reason it was for Kyler Murray —- Murphy did not finish a single one of his four seasons on a strong note. Like Kyler he got off to some very good starts early in the season, but by the end of November, the quality of his play appeared to diminish due to injuries and fatigue. That’s why a double digit yearly salary at this point in Murphy’s career is such a daunting gamble. Byron Murphy’s yearly PFF grades:

  • 2022: 9 games —- 66.7 overall —- 56.8 tackling —- 63.9 pass coverage
  • 2021: 17 games —- 58.5 overall —- 58.2 tackling —- 62.1 pass coverage
  • 2020: 15 games —- 64.7 overall —- 56.5 tackling —- 63.3 pass coverage
  • 2019: 16 games —- 48.3 overall —- 48.8 tackling —- 48.5 pass coverage
  • 4 year career thus far in pass coverage: has given up 2,228 yards, at a 67.8% completion rate and has surrendered 22 TDs, while making 5 dang good interceptions, and 25 pass breakups —- albeit for a pretty high QBR at 103.2.

Just the same it is very frustrating and tantalizing to lose a player like Byron Murphy at a high need position who has shown superb flashes of brilliance. Plus, like Christian Kirk, there goes another local favorite.

With Zach Allen and Byron Murphy moving on in free agency, what this means is that in all of Steve Keim years as GM, only one of his draft picks, D.J. Humphries, was re-signed to a multi-year deal after his rookie contract had expired. D.J. even played through a franchise tag to a year later sign his 2nd deal. With the 3rd deal he agreed to last summer, D.J.. Humphries becomes the longest tendered draft pick for the Cardinals since Larry Fitzgerald.

What this trend suggests is that if a Cardinals draft pick makes it through 4 years, the odds are nearly 100% that he’s going to another team in free agency.

The paltry few other 2nd multi-year contract extensions of rookie deals —- for Tyrann Mathieu, David Johnson, Budda Baker, Kyler Murray and Jalen Thompson —- were agreed to prior to the final year of their rookie contracts.

Obviously those decisions did not work out well for the Cardinals with Tyrann Mathieu and David Johnson —- and after a noticeable decline in play this season from Kyler Murray and Jalen Thompson if they don’t rebound well —- only Budda Baker would have justified the early 2nd contract decisions.

The Cardinals Annual Draft Pick Defection Lament

Perfectly felt and said by Gambo and Burns.

Hopefully, Monti Ossenfort will start a new, far more positive trend for his Cardinals’ draft picks.

If 2024 compensatory picks are a consolation, then perhaps yesterday the Cardinals secured a 3rd for Allen and a 5th for Murphy.

Poll

Thus far in FA, do you think Monti Ossenfort is making wise choices and contract decisions?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Yes
    (133 votes)
  • 35%
    Not quite convinced
    (77 votes)
  • 4%
    No
    (9 votes)
219 votes total Vote Now

What are your thoughts about Day 2 of the NFL’s legal tampering period with regard to the Arizona Cardinals?