Less than one week from now, the Arizona Cardinals will fly to Washington D.C. to open up the 2023 NFL campaign. One of the team's biggest question marks revolves around a defensive line that is severely lacking in talent. First year general manager Monti Ossenfort added reinforcements to the group, but none of the acquisitions are expected to make a huge difference.
Despite some reports to the contrary, it appears that new Cards head coach Jonathan Gannon is electing to stick with a 3-4 defense. Leki Fotu and Jonathan Ledbetter, a pair of holdovers from the previous regime, will assume two of the starting spots. The third slot will likely be occupied by a former number-one draft pick who'll be looking to salvage his pro career in the Arizona desert.
L.J. Collier, a first-round choice of the Seattle Seahawks back in 2019, is currently listed as a starting defensive end for the Cardinals. That's somewhat surprising, considering the fact that the 27-year-old has just three quarterback sacks on his professional resume. Will Collier suddenly take his game to another level with a Redbirds squad that desperately needs him to perform?
Arizona Cardinals have brought in fresh new depth for an unimpressive defensive line
Another veteran defender also inked a free-agent contract with the Cards back in March. Carlos Watkins, a seventh-year defensive tackle, comes to the organization after spending the past two campaigns with the Dallas Cowboys. In 69 career NFL appearances (36 starts), the 29-year-old Watkins has racked up 132 tackles and five sacks in stints with the Houston Texans and Cowboys.
Kevin Strong, yet another free-agent pickup, is someone that Ossenfort is familiar with. In November of 2021, the 6 foot 4, 295 pound Strong signed with the Tennessee Titans, a franchise that employed Ossenfort as it's Director of player personnel at the time. During the 36 pro contests (two starts) he has dressed for, Strong has been credited with 49 tackles, three pass breakups and a sack while playing for the Detroit Lions and Titans.
One more addition to the defensive front that Arizona made this offseason came to the club as a sixth-round selection from this past April's draft. Dante Stills, a 6 foot 4, 285 pounder out of West Virginia University, will likely be afforded an opportunity to contribute. The 23-year-old's preseason stat line consisted of six tackles and a sack that he recorded back on August 26th against the Minnesota Vikings.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)