After such a dismal 2012 campaign for the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive line, one would expect a lot more change for the unit. However, the 2013 starting offensive line will only feature one new name, Jonathan Cooper, the teams’ first round draft pick. The lack of transactions on the line suggests the team is confident in the group.
At left tackle, Levi Brown will make a comeback from a triceps tear from last preseason. It will be interesting to see if Brown will finally be able to live up to his potential. But, with the horrendous play at left tackle last season, Levi will be a welcome sight.
Being selected with the seventh overall pick in the draft has essentially locked Cooper’s spot up without competition. The team drafted Cooper to lock down left guard for the next 15 years, and his chance to do that starts now.
Cooper could be the most athletic lineman on the team. He will be featured in the run and pass game as the premier blocker.
Sure and steady wins the race they say, well for Lyle Sendlein, the sure and steady center will remain the starter after a rough 2012 season that featured an injury that cut his season short. Sendlein has been reliable since his days of hiking the ball to Kurt Warner. The Cardinals have a good deal with him, and his experience won’t hurt the team.
One of the more disappointing features of the 2012 Cardinals’ offensive linemen was their inability to stay healthy. The injury bug missed Daryn Colledge who started all 16 games, but without the interior help from Levi Brown he did not look too good. In 2013, he will have to switch to right guard, a position never played by Colledge before. Colledge is a savvy vet though and should handle the switch just fine.
In 2012 the Cardinals drafted Bobby Massie in the fourth round to be a developmental tackle. When injuries knocked out the Cardinals starting tackles for the entire 2012 season, Massie was forced to step in at right tackle in week one of the season. The development was fast forwarded and it was tough to see.
For the first eight weeks, it was brutal, Massie seemingly gave up sack after sack. But, after week eight Massie showed tremendous improvement and promise to develop into a quality starter. For 2013, Massie is poised to get a second chance at the start.
Massie and every other lineman on the line will be pushed by Nate Potter. 2012 was an exceptional rookie year for him, as he started eight games and impressed the organization. Right now he is the backup right and left tackle. If he proves to be better than Massie or Brown during pre-season it will not be hard for Arians to start him. The team has also discussed moving him to guard but as of yet he has not seen any time there during OTAs.
Hopefully the Cardinals line is able to avoid injury this year. As unproven as they are, they will need every bit of practice to gel together, any missed practice will hinder development. The lack of depth is a major concern for the team. Outside of Potter they have Chilo Rachal at guard, a former San Francisco 49er and Chicago Bear who has not impressed anyone in his career.
They also drafted Earl Watford in the fourth round of the draft, but he is seen as a developmental project who may need a year or two to prove competent enough to start in the NFL. With new coaching for the Cardinals, maybe the line will not need new faces to improve on last year, maybe the pieces are already on the team.