Analyzing the Arizona Cardinals defensive line for 2023 (Good Vibes Needed)
By Sion Fawkes
Many believe the Arizona Cardinals are going to have a terrible defensive line, and their current lineup suggests that. So can a few unlikely heroes rise up?
The Arizona Cardinals defensive line, to put it generously, is an eclectic bunch laden with potential given the, well, generally unproven nature of the group. Now, just because the line is made up of no-names and failed prospects by no means indicates they will be terrible in 2023, though the odds of them being an effective group are long.
That said, the Cardinals need to hope their dynamic linebacking unit, which could be a strong group, converges and generally makes up for the strong likelihood that the Redbirds defensive line will struggle in 2023. But, even the weakest position groups need to have a few starters and those providing depth, so who’s making the cut?
Arizona Cardinals defensive will likely be weak in 2023
Projected Starters if 3-4: L.J. Collier, Leki Fotu, Carlos Watkins; Backups if 3-4: Kevin Strong, Rashard Lawrence, Dante Stills. Manny Jones
Projected Starters if 4-3: Zaven Collins, L.J. Collier, Carlos Watkins, B.J. Ojulari Backups if 4-3: Cameron Thomas, Leki Fotu, Rashard Lawrence, Dante Stills, Kevin Strong, Myjai Sanders
As you can see, whether the Arizona Cardinals run a 3-4, a 4-3, or even a hybrid, we will be getting some different looks. Overall, I like the 4-3 look more, with Zaven Collins potentially making the switch to edge from linebacker (though this is still up in the air), while rookie B.J. Ojulari provides heat from the other side, and L.J. Collier, and Carlos Watkins take the inside.
Cam Thomas and Myjai Sanders are listed as backups, but I see them more as rotational pieces. Look for Fotu and Lawrence to man the backup positions at defensive tackle, while Dante Stills also works in (and possibly takes over) at some point during the season. Kevin Strong could also provide backup in the 4-3.
The 3-4 look is simpler, with L.J. Collier and Carlos Watkins taking over at end, while Fotu gets the first crack at nose tackle. Strong and Manny Jones will provide backup duty if the Cards go with the 3-4, with Jones being the only add-on from my original way too early 53 man roster prediction.
If the Cards use more of a 3-4 look, then expect Collins, Ojulari, Thomas, and Sanders to line up at outside linebacker, and remember, Collins could float between it and inside linebacker. Time will decide what the Arizona Cardinals ultimately decide to run here, but as it stands, it’s wise to prepare yourself for both situations.