3 burning questions for the Arizona Cardinals linebackers in 2023

The Arizona Cardinals linebackers are a group that can be somewhat deceptive in 2023, even with a couple of new faces manning the unit.
The Arizona Cardinals run a special teams drill during minicamp at the Cardinals Dignity Health
The Arizona Cardinals run a special teams drill during minicamp at the Cardinals Dignity Health / Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY

The Arizona Cardinals won’t be seeing Isaiah Simmons playing much, if any linebacker in 2023. They also won’t see Zaven Collins at the unit anywhere near as often either if he continues to see work with the pass rushers. 

Therefore, the Redbirds could be seeing a pair of new faces lining up at the position in 2023, and it’s highly likely that pairing could be Kyzir White and Krys Barnes. The key phrase: could be. 

3 burning questions for the Arizona Cardinals linebackers

1 - How much linebacker will Zaven Collins play?

This one comes down to how well he performs with the other outside linebackers and EDGE rushers. If he steps in and puts forth solid play in camp and in the preseason, then you may not see Collins lining up often at linebacker.

But if Collins struggles, then he may gradually return to the inside linebacker spot. Or, if the likes of Myjai Sanders, Cameron Thomas, and B.J. Ojulari hold their own and either White, Barnes, or even someone like Zeke Turner and Josh Woods struggles, then Collins could revert to the position. 

2 - Who will ultimately line up alongside Kyzir White if Collins doesn’t?

At this point, it depends on the source, as someone like Our Lads has Collins lining up next to White, but Josh Woods and Owen Pappoe are the next men up, shunting Barnes to a depth role. However, given Barnes’ productivity during his time with the Green Bay Packers, it’s hard to rule him out, especially with no definitive answer over who would line up next to White

While he will likely make his way onto the roster via special teams, I also wouldn’t count out Pappoe. This is a young football team in transition, so if Pappoe got the nod next to a seasoned veteran like White, it shouldn’t surprise you.

3 - Is there a chance Isaiah Simmons ultimately returns to linebacker?

For the Arizona Cardinals to consider this, Simmons would need to be a complete flop at nickel corner, safety, or wherever he will line up in the secondary - once again, sources are varying on this, but Our Lads has him pegged in as a nickel. Anyway, you will see Simmons line up at and play defensive back until further notice, so at most, you will rarely see him at linebacker. 

It’s also important to remember that Simmons is in a contract season, so he’s playing in a role where he could best serve the team. If the Cardinals thought that position was linebacker, then that’s the unit he would be practicing with. 


(Roster projection provided by Our Lads)