The Arizona Cardinals are a young team that could struggle in 2023. But there are a few players from each position group who could rise to the challenge.
As a football team looking to get even younger, you will see a lot of newer faces in white helmets in 2023. And many of them will be looking to make their mark early in the NFL, or at least to take full opportunity of a chance presented to them.
Below, I’ve listed one player from each position group who could be in the best place to become an unlikely hero for the Arizona Cardinals. Who can rise up out of nowhere when things get tough this season? Keep reading for more.
One unlikely hero from each position group from the Arizona Cardinals
QB: Clayton Tune
I’m projecting Clayton Tune to beat out Colt McCoy to start under center. And if Kyler Murray continues to struggle with injuries, or if he struggles in general, look for Tune to return to the driver’s seat and at least help the Arizona Cardinals eke out a respectable campaign.
RB: Emari Demercado
Emari Demercado somehow wound up as an undrafted free agent following a solid season at TCU that ended with an appearance in the National Championship Game. He will likely start off as the fourth running back on the roster, but if injuries and inconsistency plague the unit, he will prove to be more than capable of stepping up.
WR: Greg Dortch
Greg Dortch could have emerged as an unlikely hero last season had it not been for Kliff Kingsbury holding him back. Now with a new coaching staff and a new outlook, expect Dortch to become a pivotal part of the Arizona Cardinals passing attack.
TE: Zach Ertz
It’s inevitable that Trey McBride will become the undisputed TE1 in 2023. Zach Ertz will take a back seat, and that could even occur in training camp if he’s unable to go and if McBride performs well. Nonetheless, expect Ertz to remain a pivotal part of the offense when he returns.
OL: Jon Gaines II
It’s become clear that Jon Gaines II was drafted to become the next center for the Arizona Cardinals. While it’s not likely he will win the job out of camp, he will get his chance and refuse to look back, finally solving the Redbirds woes at the position.
DL: Dante Stills
If you were to find position rankings of every NFL team’s defensive line, the Cardinals may boast the league’s worst. But that gives late-round rookies like Stills golden opportunities, and he will take every advantage of them.
LB: Krys Barnes
If Isaiah Simmons ends up playing primarily linebacker, it means he and Kyzir White will be the top two members of the unit. Owen Pappoe, who could wind up as a steal, will also factor in, leaving Barnes as a potential odd man out. But if injuries strike, Barnes has proven himself to be more than a reliable player in this league to hold things down.
DB: Christian Matthew
And finally, we got a late-round pick from last season in Christian Matthew. He did nothing to impress us in 2022, but he wasn’t so bad as to think he’s one-and-done in this league. Overall, with a potentially weak unit at corner, Matthew, like Stills, could take advantage of the situation.