The Arizona Cardinals EDGE rushers are a group that has seen little success in the NFL. But given their sheer youth (just four years of combined NFL experience among the projected Top 4 heading into 2023), this is to be expected.
Even with their limited sample size, however, the Cardinals saw decent early returns with Myjai Sanders and Cameron Thomas. When the duo got their respective chances last season, they played well, and you will continue to see growth from both throughout 2023.
Outside linebacker/EDGE is a new realm for Zaven Collins, but given his ability to break into the backfield, the position may come naturally to him. Then there is B.J. Ojulari, who, barring some sort of setback, should see the field at some point in camp.
Burning questions for the Arizona Cardinals EDGE rushers
1 - Will Zaven Collins remain at EDGE for the entire season?
Zaven Collins looked like he was on the verge of a breakout season for 2023 following a solid 2022 campaign at inside linebacker. However, new head coach Jonathan Gannon threw us a curveball when Collins looked as though he were changing positions, something that has since become a reality.
Expect Collins to remain at EDGE for as long as he proves to be a successful asset at the position. However, if he struggles there, or if injuries pile up at linebacker, he could wind up returning to his former position. If Collins shows he belongs at EDGE and everyone looks good at linebacker, anticipate him to stay there all season.
2 - Who is most likely going to rack up double-digit sacks?
Myjai Sanders saw 259 snaps this past season, and per Pro-Football-Reference, that number was just 30% of all his possible snaps. If you do the math and he played the potential 855 snaps (roughly), he could have attained between nine and 10 sacks last season, with all things being equal. Ditto for Cameron Thomas, whose number of snaps sat 236 and just 20% since he suited up for all 17 games.
But with Collins and eventually Ojulari joining the lineup, that could throw a wrench into Sanders’ and Thomas’ production for a second straight season. And given the way Collins has already shown us that he’s more than capable of busting into opposing backfields, I’m giving him the early edge in this one.
3 - Will Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders make the jump from Year 1 to Year 2?
Judging from their respective performances last season described in the above section, you can make the case that Thomas and Sanders will enjoy some respective jumps in 2023. But since they will factor in as part of a rotation, don’t expect superstar numbers from them, especially with former first round pick Zaven Collins joining the group.
At worst, the duo will provide solid depth at EDGE, but both proved they could play in 2022, so they will see far more snaps in 2023 than they did last year. They made the most of their chances, so if that trend continues in camp, there is no reason to believe that their production won’t double this season.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)