Who are the 5 cornerstones of the Arizona Cardinals in 2023?

Dec 12, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (3) and Jalen Thompson
Dec 12, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (3) and Jalen Thompson / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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ESPN ranked each NFL team’s core group of players and, unsurprisingly, the Arizona Cardinals ranked a “solid” 32nd out of 32 teams.

So what is a cornerstone? They are the five players who you can label “franchise cornerstones.” And while the Arizona Cardinals roster currently boasts very few players worthy of the cornerstone label at the moment, they are far better than the players Seth Walder of ESPN.com claimed when they ranked each team’s “roster core.” 

So who did Walder come up with for the Cards? The list included players like quarterback Kyler Murray, rookie guard Paris Johnson, and returning tackle D.J. Humphries.

Can you see the issue here? For one, we don’t know when Murray will return, so even if he is indeed on the team in 2024, he’s not a core player in 2023, or at least in the early going. Paris Johnson has yet to play a single snap, so why he’s on the list I’ll never know, and D.J. Humphries has just been cleared to practice, and we don’t know what he will look like come training camp.

Baker and Brown are two players you can make the argument to be part of the Cardinals five cornerstones in 2023. As for the other three positions, let’s revamp this list. 

Isaiah Simmons
New England Patriots v Arizona Cardinals / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Who are the Arizona Cardinals current cornerstones?

5 - Isaiah Simmons

While there are times when I’ve been tough on Isaiah Simmons, he’s still accomplished the following feats: 

  • Four career picks, including a pick six
  • Seven forced fumbles
  • 258 career tackles, or 86 per season. 

In short, Simmons has made plays during his first three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. If the current coaching staff just finds a position for him and leaves him there, whether it’s linebacker, corner, safety, whatever, he will take his game to an elite level. 

Update: Per recent sources, we will see Isaiah Simmons mainly lining up in the secondary.

4 - Zaven Collins

How Zaven Collins failed to make Walder’s list is a mystery to me. Sure, it looks like he’s switching positions in 2023, but it doesn’t mean Collins flamed out as an inside linebacker. Like Simmons, Collins has sound numbers to back up his game, including a pick six, a forced fumble, a pair of sacks, 100 combined tackles, and 11 stops behind the line. 

No one made a bigger leap from Year 1 to Year 2 for the Cards in quite some time. And regardless of where Collins ends up playing position-wise, he’s going to make an even bigger leap in 2023.