The Arizona Cardinals’ failure to make the offensive line a priority during the NFL Draft could spell doom for the team in 2019.
Fans of the Arizona Cardinals were waiting. Surely, the uninspiring offensive line moves made by the club thus far in the offseason would be rectified during the NFL Draft. After all, the overall effectiveness of the Cards’ new Air Raid scoring attack could depend on it.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals’ loyalists failed to get their wish. General manager Steve Keim’s additions to the blocking unit during the draft were unimpressive as well. Arizona drafted two blockers, neither of which has the potential to have any kind of an impact this season.
In round six, University of Georgia center Lamont Gaillard was added to the nest. The fact that the position he plays was already addressed during the 2018 draft (third rounder Mason Cole) must have slipped Keim’s mind. With veteran A.Q. Shipley also on the roster, it’s a good bet that Gaillard will be nothing more than a practice squad contributor for the Cards in ’19.
The other offensive lineman drafted by the team last week could also turn out to be a non-factor. Offensive tackle Joshua Miles, a Morgan State University product, was taken in the seventh round by Keim. The 248th-overall selection will likely struggle to make the roster, let alone push starters D.J. Humphries or Marcus Gilbert for playing time.
The Cardinals are willing to sink or swim with the group of linemen that were in place before the draft. The previously mentioned Humphries has been underachieving since management took him with their first pick of 2015. Gilbert, who Arizona acquired via the trade route back in March, has missed 23 games (injuries, suspension) over the past three campaigns.
Guard Justin Pugh, the Cards’ big free agent splash of ’18, is far from worthy of the five-year, $45 million deal he was signed to last year. J.R. Sweezy, the other first-team guard, is an average journeyman who was added during free agency this past March. Either Cole or Shipley will be the center, but neither is Pro-Bowl material.
Keim went out of his way to supply top pick Kyler Murray with electrifying pass-catchers during the early portion of the draft. Wide receivers who can stretch the field and make highlight-reel receptions for the Cardinals’ rookie quarterback. Whether the offensive linemen in front of Murray will be able to keep the organization’s new star upright is another story.