Arizona Cardinals made defensive line an offseason priority
Several solid offseason additions should make the defensive front of the Arizona Cardinals a much more viable group in 2020
On many occasions last season, the general manager of the Arizona Cardinals felt let down by the club’s defensive unit. Steve Keim watched helplessly as coordinator Vance Joseph‘s group got throttled far too often by the opposition’s offenses. The results were tough to stomach, so Arizona’s top talent-evaluator promised himself that he would rectify the situation during the 2020 offseason.
Over the past several weeks, Keim and the front office have added an influx of talent to the Cards defense. The front line, in particular, was an area that needed to be addressed by the team’s management. The Cardinals did exactly that, with a couple of savvy free agent signings, followed by the drafting of two defensive line prospects a month later.
Back on March 17th, Arizona landed a player who was fresh off of a fantastic campaign with the Buffalo Bills. Jordan Phillips, a former second-round draft selection of the Miami Dolphins, was lured to the desert with a $30 million contract. The 27-year old defensive end racked up 9.5 sacks, 31 tackles and 16 quarterback hits for the Bills in ’19.
A week after acquiring Phillips, the Cards dipped into the free agent pool again. Trevon Coley, a talented defensive end who has suited up for the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts, was signed to a one-year deal by Keim. The 25-year old’s professional resume includes 86 tackles (11 for loss) and 2.5 sacks in 38 career games (29 starts).
Last Saturday, during the NFL Draft’s third day, the Cards used both of their fourth-round picks on d-lineman. Leki Fotu, a 6’5, 335 pound nose tackle out of the University of Utah, was taken with the 114th-overall choice. The 21-year old totaled 82 tackles in 30 career appearances for the Utes, and was named First-team All-Pac 12 following both his junior and senior seasons.
Seventeen selections later, the Cardinals added LSU’s Rashard Lawrence to the mix. The 6’2, 308 pound defensive end registered 120 tackles, nine sacks and seven pass breakups in 39 collegiate contests for the Tigers. Lawrence was named Second-team All-SEC following a solid performance as a senior last year.
The newcomers will be joining an Arizona contingent that already includes Corey Peters, Zach Allen, Jonathan Bullard, Miles Brown and Michael Dogbe. It’s an intriguing mix of veterans and youngsters that have been assembled Keim and company. Improvement on the defensive side of the ball is a necessity, and recent moves by the Cards indicate that it all starts up front.