What the Arizona Cardinals depth chart SHOULD look like on defense in 2023

Los Angeles Chargers v Arizona Cardinals
Los Angeles Chargers v Arizona Cardinals / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

As a team looking to get substantially younger this season, the Arizona Cardinals depth chart should lean toward giving its younger players ample playing time.

The Arizona Cardinals are going through a developmental season, and that means they need to rely on two types of players in 2023: Youngsters and leaders. Anyone not fitting the criteria should either take a back seat, or only see ample playing time if they absolutely need to. 

So the depth chart I’ve created below for the defensive players mainly follows that approach. You will see many young players lining up as starters, or at least projected to receive extended playing time in 2023. 

And just like I did with the offensive players, this isn’t a depth chart of what I think will occur. Instead, it’s what the depth chart should look like for the Arizona Cardinals heading into 2023; a depth chart that favors the younger, more inexperienced players. 

What should the Arizona Cardinals depth chart look like on defense

  • DE/EDGE: Zaven Collins, Myjai Sanders, 
  • DT: Dante Stills, Carlos Watkins
  • DT: L.J. Collier, Kevin Strong
  • DE/EDGE: B.J. Ojulari, Cameron Thomas

Yes, the newcomers to the group in Zaven Collins and B.J. Ojulari should get the starting nods, but that doesn’t mean Myjai Sanders and Cameron Thomas won’t play important roles. Instead, and I’ve been saying this for a while now, the Arizona Cardinals should opt for a solid rotation here instead of a clear-cut starter. One player I wanted to add was Dennis Gardeck, but I ran out of roster space, meaning he as part of the “final cuts.”

On the interior, I want to see L.J. Collier get the starting role and take advantage of his change of scenery. At this point, we know Carlos Watkins and Kevin Strong have limited ceilings, but we don’t know what sixth round pick Dante Stills will look like. In a season of growth, it’s smart to just play the rookie. 

  • LB: Kyzir White, Owen Pappoe, Josh Woods
  • LB: Krys Barnes, Zeke Turner

While the Arizona Cardinals would do well to roll with younger talent, Krys Barnes is only heading into his fourth season and he therefore could be a long-term fixture into the team’s plans while Kyzir White is here to quarterback the defense. This leaves Owen Pappoe as the primary backup and rotational piece who will still, and should, see ample playing time. 

Zeke Turner and Josh Woods won’t see much time playing linebacker on defense. However, both are sound special-teamers who will likely become leaders on the unit. 

  • CB: Marco Wilson, Antonio Hamilton
  • CB: Garrett Williams, Kris Boyd
  • NB: Isaiah Simmons, Kei’Trel Clark
  • SS: Budda Baker, Juju Hughes
  • FS: Jalen Thompson

I listed Garrett Williams as a starting cornerback since he should be cleared to play before Week 1 unless he experiences an unfortunate setback. Marco Wilson showed he can be the CB1 for the Arizona Cardinals while the older Antonio Hamilton should slide back and play a depth/special teams role. 

We now know Isaiah Simmons will be a defensive back for now on, so he’s getting the nod at nickel. While this appointment may come at the dismay of many fans, it’s also worth mentioning that with Simmons focusing exclusively on the position, he should perform better this season. Kei’Trel Clark should be Simmons’ backup, and the primary slot corner if the Cards need an extra one on the field. 

Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson should be undisputed starters at safety, with youngster Juju Hughes. 

Related. What the Cardinals depth chart should look like on offense in 2023. What the Cardinals depth chart should look like on offense in 2023. dark