Arizona Cardinals: Projecting where 5 tweeners will end up in 2023

Arizona Cardinals offensive linemen Jon Gaines II (59) and Paris Johnson Jr. (70) practice in the
Arizona Cardinals offensive linemen Jon Gaines II (59) and Paris Johnson Jr. (70) practice in the / Mingson Lau/The Republic / USA TODAY

Two seasons ago, Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins looked like linebackers for the Arizona Cardinals. In 2023, both may play elsewhere on the defense.

You just never know where some players are going to land on the depth chart. Talents like Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons entered the league listed as linebackers. Now, that may not be the case. But they are just two of five tweeners on the Arizona Cardinals that we will be talking about today. 

But first, what is a tweener? This is a player who could end up playing multiple positions, like a tackle/guard, a center/guard, a corner/safety, linebacker/safety, you understand where I’m coming from. 

Next to Simmons and Collins, who else made the list? Keep reading to find out. 

Projecting landing spots for 5 tweeners on the Arizona Cardinals in 2023

1 - Isaiah Simmons: Nickel

We heard about Isaiah Simmons getting in reps with the defensive backs in OTAs, and it looks like he will be seeing most of his time in the secondary this season. But the question is, where? Safety? Nickel? Outside corner?

With Marco Wilson and Antonio Hamilton likely manning the outside corners along with rookie Garrett Williams when he returns, look for Simmons to slide into the nickel position. Since he will be working with the defensive backs from here on out, you can also expect him to perform much better in the role this season than in 2022. 

2 - Zaven Collins, Defensive End/EDGE

Despite seeing success at linebacker in 2022, Zaven Collins will likely play defensive end/edge with the Arizona Cardinals in 2023. And given his overall size, 260 lb, he fits the mold. Once Collins learns the ins and outs of the role, look for him to become a force early and often. 

3 - Jon Gaines II, Center

I’m completely on board with having Gaines start at the center position from Day One of training camp. Yeah, he was mainly a guard in college, but the Arizona Cardinals need a reliable center, something they haven’t had in quite a few seasons. Hjalte Froholdt is the favorite to win the job, but he would be a stopgap at best. Gaines is the best potential long-term solution at the position. 

4 - Paris Johnson Jr., Guard

While the Arizona Cardinals drafted Paris Johnson to eventually play tackle, he won’t be there this season thanks to D.J. Humphries’ presence. Instead, the sixth overall pick in April’s draft will kick in and play guard for at least the foreseeable future. 

5 - Kei’Trel Clark, Slot Corner

Kei’Trel Clark was a tough one, because with Garrett Williams’ knee injury being a factor, and the likelihood of Simmons sliding into nickel, it left me with a mystery to crack regarding where he would end up playing. Ultimately, I’m looking for him to take the slot corner role if opponents line up with four receivers on the field, playing opposite of or alongside Simmons, depending on the package.

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