3 burning questions for the Arizona Cardinals defensive line in 2023

If there is one position group on the Arizona Cardinals full of more question marks than perhaps any other, it’s at defensive line.
Jun 6, 2022; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence (90) during
Jun 6, 2022; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence (90) during / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Well, well, well, we are just days away, less than 48 hours away, really, from the Arizona Cardinals opening up their 2023 training camp, and their defensive line looks like something you would see on a scout team. If there’s any hope, it’s that L.J. Collier is a former first round pick, and Rashard Lawrence has at least been solid even if unspectacular when he’s not sidelined with an injury. 

Other than that, there is nothing to say here, other than the fact we can ask a few dozen questions surrounding the position group. But, there is not enough time to wade through 30-plus questions, so I decided to stick with the three that jump out more than anything else. 

Burning questions for the Arizona Cardinals defensive line

1 - Can anybody step up and at least make the unit look respectable?

If you’re Dante Stills, you can, realistically, open Week 1 as the starter given the total ineptitude of this group. Stills, despite his status as a rookie picked in the sixth round, could at least win significant playing time early in the year if he steps up during camp and in the preseason. 

Regardless of whether it’s Stills or someone else, like Carlos Watkins, Kevin Strong, Leki Fotu, etc., somebody has got to step up and at least make this unit look better than it’s currently being advertised. All offseason long, I’ve been optimistic about the Cardinals defensive front, but even I can’t get too excited about what I’m seeing here. 

2 - Will Rashard Lawrence finally be healthy all season?

Rashard Lawrence has been at least halfway decent when he’s been healthy enough to play. In 2022, he appeared in five games, but he also racked up 10 combined tackles, three behind the line, and even a forced fumble, showing signs that he was on the verge of a breakout campaign before he went down with yet another injury. 

So, if the 24-year-old finally stays healthy all year, then perhaps he can put together a 40-plus tackle campaign with 10-plus tackles behind the line and a pair of forced fumbles. If that’s the case, then the Cards could have a long-term answer at the position. But before anything else, Lawrence must prove himself capable of staying on the field. 

3 - Can L.J. Collier redeem himself in the desert?

L.J. Coller’s status as a former first-round pick tells us that he was at least putting up eye-catching performances in college. So far, it just hasn’t translated to the NFL, but maybe, just maybe, Collier wasn’t playing in the correct system during his time with the Seattle Seahawks

So if he’s a better fit in defensive coordinator Nick Rallis’ system, then Collier could enjoy some better returns in the desert than he gave in Seattle. The upside is that Collier is still young, and the Cardinals defensive line is so barren, that if he proves himself, he may become a long-term fixture at the position.  


(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)