The rotation of BJ Ojulari, Dennis Gardeck, Victor Dimukeje, and Zaven Collins isn’t a bad one, as they collectively finished the year with 17.5 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, and 32 quarterback hits. These aren’t awful numbers, but they also reflect four unspectacular edge rushers who averaged just one sack per game.
This also isn’t the group you want to go into next season with, as, even if they make up a solid rotation, the lack of a blue-chip talent will keep them in the bottom-half of the league productivity-wise. If the Cardinals want their defense to improve in every facet for 2024, they need to find one more player to complete and get the most out of the group.
Of the four, Gardeck was the best as he recorded 6.0 sacks and 12 quarterback hits, but his limited size and skill-set will never produce anything more than serviceable production. Ojulari has the most upside, and he could evolve into a strong secondary pass rusher after recording 4.0 sacks in 2023, but he has yet to show he can be anything spectacular.
Arizona Cardinals edge rushers were okay in 2023, but they need more
Victor Dimukeje was the surprise player, proving he can be an asset in a backup and rotational role after recording 4.0 sacks and eight quarterback hits. Like Gardeck, Dimukeje doesn’t have the skill-set that someone like Ojulari possesses, but he’s also done nothing but grow since arriving in the desert in 2021.
Zaven Collins was the player we all wanted to see reach the next level after he moved from linebacker to edge, but he ended up with the fewest sacks of the core group with 3.5, and he logged just six quarterback hits. Collins has potential, so that could keep him in Glendale for 2024, but don’t expect general manager Monti Ossenfort to pick up his fifth-year option.
Overall, the primary edge rushers had some moments, but they were nothing more than a pedestrian group and that will remain the case until they get a consistently productive player into the lineup. For 2023, they get a C-minus, and the only thing that kept them at average is that they enjoyed a few good games throughout the year.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)