The Arizona Cardinals have been a surprise team in the season’s early going, and there are many players who have stepped up to show us this group could be better than everyone thought. Sure, the roster is still weak, especially as the injuries pile up, but so far, the “next man up” mentality has worked.
One reason is that general manager Monti Ossenfort knows how to bring in the right players, even if they’re cast-offs who have seen little success in the NFL. This is a testament to him realizing that such players are good fits for head coach Jonathan Gannon and his coordinators’ respective systems.
Two of the players listed below are those Ossenfort either signed as a free agent, or acquired via trade. The first player listed, however, has been the heart and soul of the offense over the season’s first three games.
3 Arizona Cardinals whose stocks are sailing north
1 - James Conner, RB
So much for being a seventh-year player who’s reaching the age when a running back’s productivity wanes. By PFF’s standards, James Conner is the second-best back in football, garnering a grade of 82.4.
With 266 yards on 51 carries, Conner is currently on-pace for 1,507 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. This would shatter any previous career-best that Conner has enjoyed either in the desert or as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, so it’s not bold to claim that Conner’s best days may be ahead.
What’s more amazing is the fact that Conner’s running grade is not his highest, as the 90.1 mark he has received for pass blocking stands as his greatest attribute. Conner is also averaging 3.16 yards per carry after contact, and he has also been elusive, forcing 14 missed tackles in the season’s early going.