Arizona Cardinals: Predicting The Starting Defense
By Scott Allen
The Arizona Cardinals changed coordinators on defense but the lineup and scheme should look relatively the same
After losing Todd Bowles as their defensive coordinator to the New York Jets to take on a head coaching position, the biggest worry for the Arizona Cardinals defense was who would the new coordinator be and would the defense look the same. They promoted James Bettcher from within and despite losing a couple of guys, the look should be relatively the same as it did in 2014.
The Cardinals lost cornerback Antonio Cromartie and Dan Williams. They also lost Darnell Dockett after he missed all of 2014 with a torn ACL. So who is going to start for the Cardinals on defense this season. Well, here are the predictions.
Defensive end – Calais Campbell
Nose tackle – Corey Peters
Defensive tackle – Frostee Rucker
Outside linebacker – Alex Okafor
Inside linebacker – Sean Weatherspoon
Inside linebacker – Kevin Minter
Outside linebacker – Markus Golden
Left cornerback – Patrick Peterson
Right cornerback – Jerraud Powers
Strong safety – Tony Jefferson
Free safety – Tyrann Mathieu
There is going to be some great competition for a few of these spots come August. At defensive end, Campbell should see pushes from rookie Rodney Gunter and Matt Shaughnessy. Let’s not forget about Kareem Martin either but right now I still see him as purely a backup.
The linebacker core is maybe not as strong as in years past. Minter needs to show up this season or he could be considered a bust somewhat. Lorenzo Alexander will compete with Okafor for his spot.
To me the biggest two competitions though will be at right cornerback and strong safety. There has been a lot of talk about Justin Bethel and is now his time? It could be but right now I give the nod to Powers. Not that Bethel still won’t see plenty of action. I think he will.
Then there is Tony Jefferson at safety. Deone Bucannon may have something to say about the position before it is all said and done but I will give the nod to Jefferson for now. Rashad Johnson is Mathieu’s main competition at free safety.
Regardless of who wins these battles it is clear the Cardinals have built depth at most of the positions. There is still a little bit of jury out on the linebackers but otherwise no question the Cardinals can go two or three deep on all of these positions.