Arizona Cardinals set the stage for success in 2023 and beyond
By Sion Fawkes
The Arizona Cardinals roster still has a few holes in it, but it’s clear that this will be a season of development, setting the stage for 2023 and beyond.
I follow a lot of hockey, and Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort’s plan is eerily similar to that of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres general manager, Kevyn Adams’. And when you break things down, the similarities are plentiful.
Like Adams, Ossenfort took over a team that’s been, for the most part, little more than the league’s laughingstock, and one seeing their darkest days in quite some time. Also like Adams, Ossenfort could have a few disgruntled veterans uninterested in a “rebuild,” and there is still a chance he trades them away, even if I have both pegged to be on the roster come August at this point.
What’s more? Like Adams, Ossenfort has a stockpile of draft picks for the following season, making it clearer than ever that building the Redbirds through the draft is the way to go here.
Arizona Cardinals general manager setting stage for success
So how did Adams’ Sabres fare? They were terrible in the truncated first season he was at the helm, and it occurred a few months before he traded away a few franchise cornerstones. In Year 2, they improved to 75 points, before finishing just one point and a tiebreaker (91 points total) from snagging a playoff berth.
Seeing the process work well in Buffalo, even if we’re talking about two different sports here, gives me faith that the blueprint should also work in Ossenfort’s favor, assuming he drafts well. And in immediate hindsight, both myself and experts like Mel Kiper Jr. had top marks for Ossenfort, something I don’t think we could have said about predecessor Steve Keim.
Ossenfort also understood he couldn’t fix Keim’s mess in one season, much like Adams realized he couldn’t fix the mess of several past regimes in the Queen City. Hence, the number of draft picks next year, which include two first rounders, and six in the first three rounds.
That other first round pick belonged to the Houston Texans. And if Houston is going to be as bad as we believe they will be, the Redbirds just locked up a top ten pick for next season. If the Cards struggle again, you could easily see two picks in the top ten, and potentially five in the top 75.
Sure, Ossenfort needs to hit big on these picks. But if he does, you could see a dramatically improved Arizona Cardinals team as early as 2024, and contention for the playoffs in 2025.