The Arizona Cardinals may not have a good defensive line in 2023, but their EDGE rushers are brimming with potential.
Potential. That was the one word I thought of when the Arizona Cardinals drafted Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders in the third round during the 2022 NFL Draft. In 2023, Thomas and Sanders will make their respective leaps, but with Zaven Collins slated to join them along with rookie B.J. Ojulari, this position group will be deep.
Many in the NFL universe will give the Cardinals EDGE rushers a low grade simply because none of them have much experience in the NFL at the position (Collins played linebacker over his first two seasons), and the fact none of the projected top four have amassed more than 3.0 sacks in a single year. However, there is no denying how intriguing this young rotation is.
Only Dennis Gardeck, who is likely fringe to play much at the position given his older age and lack of size, has more. In 2020, he recorded 7.0 sacks. But he’s done next to nothing over the past two seasons.
Arizona Cardinals EDGE rushers are a high potential group
When it comes to grading the Cardinals EDGE rushers, I’m giving them marks based on past performance AND potential. Though he didn’t see time at EDGE, Collins still played well at linebacker, while Thomas and Sanders were solid pieces when former defensive coordinator Vance Joseph gave them a chance.
Ojulari is a rookie, so he’s still a mystery by many accounts, and Gardeck, at worst, should provide solid depth. Therefore, given the overall potential that this group can make an incredible leap in 2023 coupled with the fact they produced when called upon, they deserve a solid B.
Thomas and Sanders are making a jump this season, but that doesn’t mean Collins and Ojulari won’t pitch in constantly. You may see this group ultimately forming a sound rotation, and that means fresh legs from Week 1 until Week 18, assuming they can stay healthy.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)