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Opinion: Which Cardinals Should Start? Where and Why?

NFL: NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

: Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr. on stage after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals sixth overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee


  • QB: (if Kyler is on PUP) Clayton Tune —- behind Kyler, has most upside and brightest future
  • RB: James Connor —- da man
  • WR1: Hollywood Brown —- time to shine
  • WR2: Michael Wilson —- nifty and tenacious
  • SWR: Greg Dortch —- total dawg
  • LT: Paris Johnson Jr. —- where he belongs from day 1
  • LG: Jon Gaines —- played LG last year, he’s a natural fit, could eventually be the center
  • C: Hjalte Froholdt —- knows Drew Petzing’s offense and coaches have been lauding him.
  • RG: Will Hernandez —- bulldozer
  • RT: Josh Jones —-should build off last year’s success to make strong case for a second contract
  • TE Trey McBride —- could emerge as go-to guy on 3rd downs and Red Zone

Defense (thinking the 3-4 best suits the personnel and JG/NR vow to be flexible):

  • SOLB: Zaven Collins —- exciting new role to maximize his formidable skills and physicality
  • LDE: Cameron Thomas —- takes over Zach Allen’s role
  • NT: Rashard Lawrence —- has talent/upside and can platoon with Carlos Watkins
  • RDE: Dante Stills —- is a dawg vs. run and has gives team inside passing rushing skills
  • WOLB: B.J. Ojulari —- let his rush, let him rush, let him rush
  • SILB: Kyzir White —- QB of defense, can stuff run and cover
  • WILB: Owen Pappoe —- swift in run support and pass coverage
  • LCB: Garrett Williams —- tailor made for JG’s/NR’s man and zone coverages
  • SS: Isaiah Simmons —- where he belongs, forcing run, covering TEs and blitzing QBs
  • FS: Budda Baker —- the straw that stirs the drink
  • RCB: Marco Wilson —- making significant strides in his development
  • NCB: Kei’Trel Clark —- finally, a pesky, aggressive slot corner
  • NDE: Myjai Sanders —- nickel edge rusher with superb talent
  • NS: Jalen Thompson —- asset in the safety rotations, particularly in man coverage and deep zones where he has 13 or 12 the field responsibilities.

Special Teams:

  • K Matt Prater —- when healthy, one of the best
  • P Nolan Cooney —- in 3 pre-season punts for Cardinals last year, he averaged 53.7 ypp, plus dropped one inside the 20 —- and in 9 kickoffs, he booted 6 touchbacks
  • LS Matt Hembrough —- 2022 All-American who was a model of consistency at Oklahoma St.

Question Marks:

  • WR DeAndre Hopkins —- does not fit the “team-first”, “all-in”, “no egos tolerated” mantras that highlight the team building philosophy of the new GM and HC. Quitting on team the last two weeks of last season, particularly after severely handicapping the team with his 6 game PED suspension was thoroughly careless and irresponsible. His days of manipulating the Cardinals should come to an end, the sooner, the better.
  • T D.J. Humphries —- depends on how he answers the question of whether he is willing to switch this season to RT so that the team doesn’t make the same mistake of not playing their 1st round tackle at his most natural position from the get-go. if anyone should understand that, D.J. should. If D.J. is amenable to making the switch, then great. Otherwise, the team should accommodate a trade that could get the team good value in return (draft pick and or player), especially seeing as his base salary this season is a highly attractive (for a trading partner) $5.5M. Unfortunately it would cost the team $26M in dead cap value—- but, with his cap hit in 2024 set at $22M (which the team is not going to run with), the dead cap in 2024 is still pretty high at $13.8M. Under no circumstances should the Cardinals move Paris Johnson Jr. around in order to appease D.J. Humphries. When you draft the best left tackle in the draft at pick #6 (the first non-QB offensive player in the draft) it behooves you to play him from day one where he belongs.
  • CB Colt McCoy —- for the past two seasons Colt gave the team everything he had, for which he deserves high praise. This year, however, with a team re-set (rebuild) in place, it does not make sense to count on him to play, particularly in light of the array of injuries he suffered last season, some of which he is still recovering from. The team can save $1.5M on the cap with a dead cap figure of $3.5M if they trade or release him.

What Cardinals’ players do you want as starters? Where and why?

Here’s the Cardinals current depth chart on Ourlad’s: